Seyla Hernandez was recommended to us by our friend Ashley in El Sauce. Here is her letter describing Seyla and her situation:
Seyla is an extraordinary young lady from a very small, rural town on the outskirts of El Sauce. She lives in a tiny community called Ojo de Agua, which is near the town of Guacucal. I have gotten to know Seyla through the Ciudad Hermana scholarship program, which she has received since she was in third grade. She has to walk 45 minutes to get to school every day, because her community is so rural. Seyla’s family has struggled financially, because there are no opportunities for jobs where they live. Her father is a day-laborer, doing whatever odd jobs he can find, often helping out in the fields. However, he also has health issues that make it difficult for him to work. Thanks to the Ciudad Hermana scholarship, Seyla has been able to continue her elementary education, and she has officially graduated from 6th grade! Her teacher has moved up with her each year, and tells me that Seyla is a rare gem, because she is such a sweet young lady and a hard worker who truly wants to continue studying. Unfortunately, many girls in Guacucal end up getting married shortly after finishing 6th grade, and very few continue their education into secondary school. Seyla is determined not to be one of them. She is 15, which is a little older than most 6th grade graduates, but this is because she started school later than most kids due to the distance that she lives from school (her parents didn’t want her to be walking such long distances alone at 6 years of age, which I understand and respect, especially since she has studied and has done very well!).
Every year, the scholarship recipients write a thank-you letter to their sponsors. This year, it broke my heart to read her letter, because at the end of her letter, she wrote “I don’t know if I will be able to go to secondary school because my family can’t afford it”. She was so proud of herself to have graduated, and it is heartbreaking to think that she might not be able to continue studying because she doesn’t have enough money to buy her school supplies and pay the bus fare to get to class. There isn’t a high school in her community, so in order to continue her education, she will need to travel to El Sauce. Most students from Guacucal and the surrounding areas who do continue into secondary school study on Saturdays in El Sauce, so that they can take the public transportation into town and study, then return to their home in the evening. This is what Seyla would like to do, so that she can travel with other students from her community. Without the support to pay for her bus fare every Saturday, and to purchase all of her school supplies, Seyla would not continue her education beyond the 6th grade, and she would have essentially no opportunity to get a job to support her family, or her future children if she chooses to form a family of her own. I know that Seyla truly wants to continue her education, and without the support of a scholarship, this would be essentially impossible for her.
Here is a translation of Seyla’s application letter to the foundation:
My name is Seyla Junieth Hernandez Perez. I have two sisters and will enter my first year of secondary school and my favorite class is mathematics. I have lived 16 years in Ojo de Agua near Guacucal. I live with my parents, I went to primary school in Guacucal.
My family doesn’t have very many resources. My mother is a housewife and my father doesn’t work much because he has kidney problems. I am the youngest of the three children and I help my mother with the housework.
My big dream is to keep studying in high school and for this reason I am writing to ask for a scholarship because my parents can not continue helping me. I am ready to commit to the requirements of the program, as are my parents.
I will be studying on Saturdays because my community is so far away from town. I hope you take into consideration my request. Thanking you in advance,
We are so happy to be able to help Seyla continue her education, and we are very excited to see where she goes in her life!
We’ve been out of touch a little with Seyla, since she lives far from town, and doesn’t have a phone. We heard that in the middle of the year in 2020, she got married. At first we decided that she couldn’t be part of the program anymore, which made us very sad. We realized, however, that our “rules” don’t say anything about getting married, only getting pregnant. Seyla is not pregnant, she finished her fourth year of secondary school, and she wants to continue on to finish high school and go on to the univsersity. So the board asked her some questions about her intentions, the support she receives from her husband, and her ability to stay in touch with us. She really wants to continue with school. She is going to move to Leon to be with her husband, but our contact in El Sauce, Marina, will still handle her funds.
Seyla finished her second year of high school with a 75% average, which is pretty good. She loves English, although she’s shy about trying to speak it to us. She still works and lives with a family in El Sauce during the week, and attends school on Saturdays, then goes home to her family in the country on Sundays. It’s not an easy path, so we are proud that she is persevering. When we finally were able to get her to talk, she talked very excitedly about her love for animals and how much she would love to be a veterinarian. Of course, this meant we had to show Seyla all the pictures of our animals at home, and we spent a while talking about cats and dogs.
We are very proud of Seyla and her work in school. She is holding steady and working hard, and that is not an easy thing to do when you have to work all week and then learn the whole week’s classwork in one day! We are very excited that she is continuing to study, since it is so easy to give up when you have so much on your young shoulders. Seyla received a 71% in her classes for her mid-term grade, and she is justifiably very proud.
We received her mid-year letter to us. For this letter, we asked the girls to describe something they accomplished this year, something they’d like to accomplish for the rest of the year, and to tell us their favorite story or legend from Nicaragua. We’re learning a lot!
Here’s Seyla’s letter to us. We love that she told us a story about Nicaragua’s most famous literary figure, Ruben Dario:
September 8, 2018
Hello dear Christa, I hope that this finds you healthy and in the company of your family. This letter is a way to thank you and ONE, who have given me a lot of help. Your collaboration has made it possible that I continue my studies and thus finish a course of study, which is my dream. Thank you for everything, I hope to see you all soon.
This year, I have learned many new things. I am very happy to be with my family and to know that you are well; this month I am taking exams. I have to study a lot to do well and not to fail a single class; here in Nicaragua the crisis in our country has affected us and we pray to god that Nicaragua will be free again.
Ruben Dario, poet of Nicaragua, tells the story of when he was a child living with his mother in a little house in the town of Dario, in the state of Matagalpa. One day the boy disappeared and he mother worried. She looked for him very worriedly and didn’t find him anywhere. His mother was a beautiful woman with dark eyes and short hair. His mother arrived at a corral filled with cows and the child Ruben Dario was there nursing from a cow and the cows were chewing their cuds, and the mother carried him away in her arms and gave him a spanking.
Sincerely, Seyla Junieth Hernandez Perez
Seyla is now working full time as a maid in a house in El Sauce. This means that she doesn’t get to go home very often, and we know she misses her family. She studies on Saturdays, and it’s pretty challenging, but she’s working hard. She finished her first year of high school with a 71% average, which is really good when you take into account that she’d helping clean, cook, and care for a small boy at her work the other 6 days of the week. We are so impressed with her perseverance, and her desire to continue to move forward. She’s a lovely, quiet, and very shy young woman, and we just love her.