As the photographer for She's the First, a not-for-profit that raises awareness about girls education and encourages young people to creatively fundraise to sponsor a girl in the developing world, I recently had the opportunity to visit one of our partner organizations in Guatemala. Starfish One by One works with indigenous Mayan girls in middle and high school by providing tuition costs and placing them in a unique mentorship program. Each girl is placed in a group of 15 and is lead by an indigenous Mayan mentor who has herself graduated high school and beyond. This support system encourages the girls to push beyond the education level that their families could have provided for them. Most of them will be the first in their families to graduate high school, many the first to be educated beyond the 6th grade.
I was asked by Starfish One by One to document one girl in particular - 18-year-old Francisca Chiviliu Quinac. In October, Francisca will be the first person in her family to graduate high school. Amid studying and attending her weekly mentoring sessions, Francisca helps her mother and little sister Brenda complete many chores around the house, from making 70 tortillas three times a day by hand to harvesting corn in the family's yard to washing clothes by hand. I've included a few preview photos from the project below, but will be producing a short photo/video documentary about her to be completed in the coming weeks -- come back to check it out!
I also had the opportunity to meet some of the other girls in the program and their mothers at their homes, and to attend a few of the mentoring programs. You can read more about my trip with She's the First on our blog and more about Starfish One by One on their website.