Meet Anderson

“I feel happy because not everyone has the opportunity to receive a scholarship like this,” says Anderson. “My dream when I graduate high school is to study civil engineering.”

In a small concrete room, an array of tabletop machinery sits amongst a pile of denim. Roberto works diligently, assembling the two sides of a pair of pants. When finished, he passes them to his 13-year-old son, Anderson, who uses his machine to double stitch them. On average, they create one pair of pants every half hour. Each pair of pants sells for a little more than a dollar. 

At just 16 years old, Roberto began working as a tailor in Guatemala City. After 7 years, he was able to buy the equipment he needed to work on his own. Now, he works from his home in Santa Lucía Utatlán to support his family. Before the pandemic, he worked alongside others, but for 7 months of 2020, orders came to a halt as many struggled to make ends meet. His coworkers left to find other work. Since then, the orders have started to pick back up but it is just Roberto, his wife Felipa, and Anderson working to fulfil them.  

“I help by double stitching the pants and sewing on the pockets,”
says Anderson. “I still get a little scared of using the machines but I am learning.”

Guatemalan boy uses sewing machine in workshop
Anderson and Roberto in the workshop

It is not uncommon for children in Guatemala to work alongside their parents to help make ends meet. Anderson’s parents are nevertheless determined to make sure he graduates high school and achieves his own dreams. Like many living in rural Guatemala, Anderson’s parents weren’t able to attend school past sixth grade.

“My hope for Anderson is that he continues his studies and graduates,” says Roberto. 

Father and son holding up pair of pants

Being a student in rural Guatemala is not easy. Just 56% of students graduate from the sixth grade. The COVID-19 pandemic has made it even more difficult to get a good education. But Anderson is taking it in stride and persevering to achieve his dreams of reaching university and becoming an engineer. 

In 2019, Anderson was a student leader in one of Mil Milagros’ partner schools. He learned how to raise funds for school projects, lead health campaigns, and developed his leadership skills. MM Education Coordinator, Marcos could see he was a student with a bright future ahead of him.

“I first met Anderson when he joined the student council,” says Marcos. “He was very active in leading the health campaigns and projects we did together and was always enthusiastic. I knew that his family struggled economically, so I nominated him to receive a scholarship to make sure he could continue his studies.”

Guatemalan boy speaking into microphone
Anderson leading a hand washing campaign in his school

Now, Anderson is a student in his first year of middle school. He is adjusting to a new chapter in his education journey in the midst of a pandemic. A typical week involves going to school in person on Mondays and studying from home the rest of the week. Before the pandemic, Anderson would take public transport. These days, it is safer to walk, which takes him around 25 minutes. Once there, he writes down all his work for the week in his notebook. Teachers also send work via Whatsapp. 

Anderson’s scholarship is helping to pay for an important tool during pandemic times - internet at home. With schools suspended for the entirety of 2020, many students did not have the resources they needed to keep up with virtual schooling, including Anderson. 

Guatemalan boy using cell phone to do his homework

“Studying during the pandemic was difficult,” says Anderson. “The teachers would send us our school work but whenever I had questions I didn’t have a way to communicate with them. It was very difficult to do my work without the internet.”

Now, thanks to the scholarship funds, wifi has been installed in his home and Anderson and his sister, who is in high school, are now able to communicate with their teachers and get their school work done.

“I feel happy because not everyone has the opportunity to receive a scholarship like this,” says Anderson. “My dream when I graduate high school is to study civil engineering.”

We are so proud of Anderson and grateful to Friends of Guatemala for providing the scholarship funds for Anderson to pursue his dreams.