Christa, Janeece, and Leslie first met Thalia in 2019, during a visit to Guatemala with the Flagstaff Arts and Leadership Academy. Thalia is deaf, and one of the FALA students knew some sign language, so they spent a lot of time making art together.
Thalia has been learning sign language and now is learning to read lips. Her school situation is challenging, however, since she has to travel 4 hours round trip each day with her mother to be able to study at the school for deaf students. Here is the letter of recommendation from our contacts at Colectivo Vida Digna.
Dear fellow ONE board of directors,
I hereby greet you, sending you big hugs in gratitude for your dedication to the education of girls around the world. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is Gloribel Salanic, I began my collaboration with the Asociación Colectivo Vida Digna in 2022 in the area of education, providing counseling and educational accompaniment to the girls and boys with scholarships. The surprise of my job was meeting Thalia Lopez Minera, a young 18-year-old Maya Mam, who has been deaf since she was born and lives in the community of Rancho Alegre Cajola, in Quetzaltenango in western Guatemala. It gives me so much satisfaction to recommend her for a ONE scholarship because she is a young woman who works hard to achieve what she sets out to do.
Thalia is currently studying at the Benemerito Committee for the Blind and Deaf of Guatemala, Educational Center for Deaf Children, Western Region “Ora. H.C. Elisa Molina de Stahl”. From the beginning Thalia and the dedication of both parents, Guadalupe and Yaneth, amazed me since they watch over the education of her daughter with great interest and affection. The serious language tool in conjunction with learning to lip read has been helping Thalia to communicate and develop. She highlighted that during her childhood she has gone through very difficult times, however her own initiative has been her tool to overcome these situations. One of the barriers that limited her from continuing to study is the distance between the school and her community, all of which implied that Thalia and her mother had to get up at four in the morning to travel, since the journey takes two hours to travel to get to school.
It has been very difficult for the family because of the economic expense of public transportation and her mother’s time because she stays waiting for her during classes. In addition, the insecurity that exists within the country does not allow her to travel alone to take her classes. This year we managed to find a family in Quetzaltenango, where Thalia has been able to stay since the beginning of classes in January. We hope with a scholarship from ONE she can continue to live close to the school.
Thalia’s letter to us for her application was very heartfelt and tells us a lot about this young woman.
Quetzaltenango, 4 April, 2023
Good day, My name is Thalia Lopez Minera. I am from Cajola and I am 18 years old.
When I was four years old I went to the school in Quetzaltenango for deaf children. I felt out of place and I cried a lot. They spoke to me in sign language and I didn’t understand because I was young, but later I learned a little because I had a very nice teacher.
After a year, my parents took me out of the school because they couldn’t pay and they sent me to the school in my community.
I felt happy in my community but only with my friends because we played and all, but to write I just copied what was on the blackboard because I didn’t understand. My teacher in the community school didn’t know sign language, just like me. I just made them up. Some kids rejected me and others liked me. I was there until fifth grade, until I found the opportunity through Vida Digna to study at Elisa Molina School, where I am now. I started again in third grade but I was really happy.
In Eliza Molina I am now in second basic. I like it a lot and I have four friends. They also give workshops at the school and this year I am learning to embroider with a machine. I like it a lot. I have also always loved cake making. Perhaps next year I will learn more.
Now I am learning dance. We are rehearsing a lot and it’s possible that we will compete in the capital city and perhaps also in Panama.
Since February I have lived in Xela so I can be closer to the school. I feel good at the guest house where I stay. I want to continue studying and I hope you can help me with a scholarship. I am going to try hard in all my classes, and I also have the help of my parents and of Vida Digna.
We are delighted to provide more than half of Thalia’s scholarship for her to be able to study and not have to travel so far. Colectivo Vida Digna will pay for a portion of her scholarship, we will pay the rest. Thalia is a very special and dedicated young woman, and we’re very happy to have her as part of our family!
Thalia has been doing well in school, her semester report card was an 82%, which is really good. She’s learning to read lips as well as her sign language, and we hear this is doing wonders for her confidence. For the year so far in school she has received either “good” or “excellent” ratings in terms of her accomplishing the tasks set out for her by her teachers (respecting the belongings of her classmates, completing homework, collaborating with her classmates, etc.). We’re really proud of her efforts!
We sent her some questions to answer for her first letter at the semester. She’s never had to do anything like this before so her answers were a bit on the slim side, but we’ll work with our contacts at Vida Digna to make sure she understands that we’d like her to be able to explain things to us just a little bit more!
- What have you learned during the last six months of your school year?
I have learned about physics, and mathematics, and all my materials. I have also learned how to dance and I have learned many things
- What have you learned from the topics taught by your teacher during this time?
I have learned respect and to care for the environment.
- How do you feel about your education after having finished the first half of the school year?
A little tired, frustrated. But I want to continue to reach my goal.
- What are you hoping to learn for the second half of the school year?
I want to learn more therapy. More vocabulary and numbers.
We’re not sure what she means by therapy, so next time we talk to her, we’ll ask what that means!
In September, Thalia was also able to participate in a dance workshop in Panama for dancers from all over Central America who have auditory disabilities. Our contact Anna said she had a really good time and she also sent us a link to the event announcement on Facebook. It’s pretty cute. You don’t have to have a Facebook account or log in to see it.