How a former sponsored child is championing change in her community!

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How important is access to education?

Just ask Elizabeth, 22 – she’s a former sponsored child who reaped the benefits of an education, thanks to the support of generous donors!

“My mother attended school until sixth grade and my father until third grade,” says Elizabeth. “They didn’t have the same chances we did due to lack of resources and because it wasn’t considered important for girls to go to school.”

Growing up in Guatemala where over half the population lives in poverty, Elizabeth seemed destined to follow a similar path to her parents. But when Plan International began working in her community to increase access to education, health, and protection, life changed for many.

At age 6, Elizabeth became a sponsored child, and with the support and encouragement of her parents and her sponsor, she went from primary school to high school – and graduated with flying colours!

Elizabeth at her work computer

Elizabeth, 22 – grown up and working for Plan International Guatemala!

Empowering youth to speak up

Not only was Elizabeth able to exercise her rights to education but she was also encouraged to learn more about gender equality through our youth groups.

These peer-to-peer groups help build girls’ confidence and encourage them to speak up about issues affecting them, like violence, child marriage and early pregnancy.

“Before, I was embarrassed of speaking up because I thought I was wrong. Now I know that my ideas are valid and that I should share them with others,” says Elizabeth.

“I first learned about sex education and reproductive health from Plan International,” she says, adding that many young people in her community already had children of their own.

“My mother says that it has a lot to do with the way people think and the opportunities they have.”

Through participation in various workshops, Elizabeth learned more about sexual reproductive health and her right to say “no” to sex or marriage before she’s ready.

“Nobody has the right to force me into doing anything I don’t want to do,” she says. “I have the knowledge to understand the kind of life I want for me and my family.”

Together with her youth group, Elizabeth has travelled to different communities to share information regarding sexual and reproductive health rights and learn more about how boys and girls are treated in the country.

“We are the voice of all the girls we meet,” she says, adding that government officials have attended the youth events and listened to their stories.

“We were able to speak freely about the issues that threaten girls.”

Coming full circle

Elizabeth with group of children in circle with arms raised

Elizabeth works with youth to champion change and challenge traditional norms

Today, Elizabeth is still heavily involved with community youth groups. In fact, she’s championing children’s rights as a member of Plan International Guatemala’s Child Sponsorship department – talk about coming full circle!

“Getting involved with Plan International is a great way to help the lives of young people in our communities. It opens the door to different opportunities and helps parents support their children,” she says.

“I have seen for myself how adults can change their minds significantly regarding the importance of education for girls and that we women have the same rights as men.”

Ambitious and empowered, Elizabeth hopes to become a psychologist one day and help those who need it.

“By working, I can afford to pay for my studies at university. I want to become a psychologist in order to help people manage their emotional issues.”

We have no doubt she will achieve this goal!

The chance to change lives

If you would like to help a child like Elizabeth, then learn more about Child Sponsorship and see how your support can help change lives around the world!