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Full Bellies, Full Hearts

Starfish English teacher Conner Pullen has been showing his U.S. family around Lake Atitlán for the past few days, and introducing them to the Starfish program. Mentor Paola Petzey and I joined Conner and his folks yesterday on an adventure up to Panimatzalam village, the home of Starfish girl Pascuala Chicoj Cuy.    Pascuala lives with her…

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Saturdays with Patsy and Picasso

  For the last two and a half months, longtime Starfish supporter Patsy Schmitz has been offering weekend art classes at our Starfish offices. The kind of Fine Arts education that helps to develop creative problem solving skills, visual language, and cultural awareness has historically been an inaccessible luxury for most of our Girl Pioneers, so we…

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Volcanothon 2015

  The 3rd annual Volcanothon kicked off with a scavenger hunt to get our visitors’ blood flowing after a long ride to Panajachel. First, the ten Starfish girls chosen to participate met our six visitors outside of their hotel for introductions and backpack distribution (Eddie Bauer has generously donated brand-new backpacks to the Volcanothon for…

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Spotlight on Lily & Mirna Morales

  Lily Morales has never lived in the same home as her father. He left her still-pregnant mother for another woman 15 years ago. Instead, Lily resides high up in the Las Canoas hills with her mom, grandma, uncle, two aunts, and little cousin. Lily only sees her dad when he visits Las Canoas, which…

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Spotlight on Starfish Girl Pioneer Milsa Savjin Ajpus

  As Milsa Savjin Ajpus finished up her 6th grade year she had a life changing decision to make. At 14 years old, Milsa had to choose between continuing her education and working at her mother, Magdalena’s “huipil” weaving shop. The reality? Milsa’s family did not have the economic resources to support further schooling. Her…

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A Letter From The Field

I joined Starfish in early 2010. I vividly recall the beginning—the first Girl Pioneers and their families sharing their ambitious dreams of completing school and changing the trajectory of their lives. Today I can see how each of them has grown and achieved those dreams—many have formal jobs, while others are now studying at the…

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Spotlight on a Girl Pioneer: Luisa Maria

Luisa is 19-years-old, the only daughter of single, illiterate mother. This November, having overcome tremendous odds, Luisa will graduate from high school. When did you join the Starfish program? After the 8th grade. My father left my mother when she was pregnant. She never had the opportunity to study, so she doesn’t know how to…

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Spotlight on a Girl Pioneer: Lucia Ajcabul

Lucia Ajcabul is the fifth of six Mayan children. To get to her house, one must navigate narrower and narrower streets that snake up and down within her area of the large indigenous town of Santiago. If that’s not claustrophobic enough, one finally arrives at a slab of tin that serves as a door opening to…

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The Maripositas of Chuacruz and Los Murales

Once a month, Starfish mentors make a visit to the home of each Joven Estrella (young star) in their mentorship group. These visits serve to develop trust between Starfish and the family, and to ensure that each family remains completely united around the vision of an empowered Girl Pioneer. The members of the Maripositas Soñadoras have…

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Hard Work, Gratitude, and Family

Walking the streets of Panajachel is an interesting and unforgettable experience. Look to one side and you see a lush green forest growing up steep cliffs, look to the other and you can see the beautiful Lake Atitlan. The lake is calming and bright, well deserving of it’s name, which translates to ‘where the rainbow ends.’ The…

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