Jáckelyn and Joselyn proudly smile as they pose with Rotary International President Jennifer Jones. Thanks to CoEd’s Rise Program, the twins are now thriving in mid-level jobs in the capital, proving that hard work and determination can make anything possible. San Jose Poaquil, February 2023.
Twins. Imagine the shock of hearing this as an expectant parent! Unfortunately, in rural Guatemala—where families subsist on less than $4 a day—double the blessing can also mean twice the hardship. And so, as soon as they were born, Joselyn and Jácklyn were already facing a difficult life, especially coming so soon after their older brother.
The three siblings attended school together until their brother dropped out midway through seventh grade. The sisters, however, wanted to stay. And luckily, their father supported them. For so many girls in Guatemala, this isn’t the case. They would be the first to be pulled out of school while their families prioritize educating the boys.
As highlighted by Joselyn:
“Many times in Guatemala, education denies more to girls—because of machismo.”
Jáckelyn and Joselyn with Guatemalan singer Gaby Moreno during the Rotary International 2023 Imagine Impact Tour. San Jose Poaquil, February 2023.
But keeping both twins in school proved to be expensive. After finishing middle school, the sisters had no hope of affording high school. Instead, their mother taught them a variety of tasks—to knit, cut coffee, or work the fields. Sometimes, they would help their uncle cut blackberries and other crops—a difficult task.
“Then, one night, my uncle came to my house,” Joselyn recalls:
“Where he teaches, some people from CoEd [Cooperative for Education] came, giving opportunities to continue studying. My uncle thought of us and told us about this opportunity.”
Thanks to this tip from their uncle, both girls applied for and entered CoEd’s Rise Program! “God does things that one does not imagine,” she adds. The girls worked hard through the week, going to classes on the weekends. In school, they were learning more than they ever dreamed possible.
Before studying at the CoEd Computer Center at their school, they had never even touched a computer. But now, they were gaining vital technology skills. They even had the opportunity to take a Microsoft Office Specialist exam in Excel. Both sisters passed with flying colors—scoring a 960 and a 961 out of 1000 points! (All 16 of their peers who took the exam also passed!)
After finishing high school, the twins moved to the capital to pursue their dreams. Though they struggled to find work in the pandemic economy, they faced the challenge with determination and gained experience in a variety of formal jobs, working as cashiers at País and La Torre, the two largest grocery store chains in Guatemala. These are solid mid-level jobs that give them the opportunity to use their technology skills every day!
Jáckelyn and Joselyn proudly update CoEd staff on their life in the capital and the jobs they’ve obtained after graduation, thanks to their education through CoEd’s programs. February 2022.
The sisters reflected in a video interview that their lives would have been very different if they had not received the scholarship to finish high school. If they had dropped out and moved to the capital after eighth grade, they would likely be working in houses or tortillerias. Instead, thanks to Rise—both sisters would like to be entrepreneurs and have even thought about pursuing opportunities to study in other countries.
Joselyn and Jáckelyn were born with all the odds stacked against them. No one expected two indigenous girls from a tiny town to finish school—let alone achieve a nearly-perfect score on a Microsoft Office Specialist exam in Excel! But with their own hard work and access to CoEd programs, all of this was possible! We empower rural communities to deliver quality education that transforms their children’s futures. Thanks to these programs, individuals like Joselyn and
Jáckelyn, are now living and working independently in the capital, and dreaming of the next big thing.