Immigration to the US is on the rise in Guatemala. 'A Brighter Future' explores the effect on rural Guatemalan communities and how Mil Milagros is helping to create brighter futures at home.
Lidia, Mil Milagros Community Coordinator
The night before he left, he said goodbye to the children. I remember it so well, I was sitting right here. He told them, “I need to leave, I am going to find work.” With tears in his eyes he said “I’m going to fight for you because I don’t have even a piece of bread to give you, but I know with time, I will be able to give you everything you need.” Every time we spoke to him, we would always cry. My youngest one would cry and say “When is dad coming home?” Then his brother would cry and we would all sit together crying. It was so difficult for me to be alone. For two years, I was just at home doing the same thing every day. Cleaning, looking after the children, washing, cooking - that was it. I had no one to talk to, no one to share my problems with. At that time I felt like no one was listening.
Many times, people would ask, “Where do you work?” and now I can say “Mil Milagros.” Now, I feel so happy. I am learning so many things. I tell other mothers that they have to apply what they are learning with Mil Milagros. To get the most out of the programs. I feel motivated with my co-workers and with everyone involved in Mil Milagros because I feel the love and friendship. I feel it every time I come to work. Everyone always asks me “How are you? How are you feeling?” When I was home, no one asked how I was. After Mil Milagros came into our lives, things changed. We started to smile and see the light of day again.
Maria, Grandmother Leader
My husband died very young. We were together almost nine years and then he died. I was only 30 years when I was left alone. That’s when I began my struggle to raise my children alone.
I had a little house with only one room. The five of us all slept in the same room, two to a bed. One day my daughters said “Mom, we have decided to go the United States because here, we are suffering. We don’t have a proper house, it’s always leaking.” There was a tin roof but it was broken and every time it rained, it would leak. My daughters say, “We are so far from our children and we can’t show them the love they deserve. Maybe we will see them one day but by that time they will be all grown up. Because we are so poor, we had to leave and leave our children behind.”
Mil Milagros has changed the lives of my grandchildren. Now they wake up, wash their faces, wash their hands, and brush their teeth before going to school. I am so grateful because I have seen everything that Mil Milagros has done in our community. My dream for my grandchildren is that they keep studying. I want all the children in our community to have good jobs in the future.
In these areas, immigration is something quite sad because the children often only think about their absent parents. They don’t always have the full support of both parents. Here in the school as teachers, many times we have to step in as parents from the very beginning. We have to teach them to shake hands and say “good morning”, how to eat, how to go to the bathroom. Mil Milagros helps us to support the children and shows us how to educate them. Many families don't have the resources to help their children but that doesn’t mean that we can’t get things done. We just have to work together. I love working with Mil Milagros because I have learned new and better ways to teach. They have given us educational resources that have helped me to improve my teaching. Since Mil Milagros came to our school, we have also noticed the parents have become more supportive. They have changed their mentality and now they are investing more in their children’s education. All so that the children can have better futures and so that when they are older they can have opportunities here in Guatemala and in the future won’t need to go to another country to find work.
Children in Guatemala are learning that drinking water every day is essential to living a happy, healthy life!