Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Succeed

Overcoming Cultural Barriers to Succeed

"My dad always said that girls were only good to be housewives and to stay at home," shares Silvia. "My father was very kind to me when I was little,” recalls Silvia. “When I came home from kindergarten, he would ask me what I learned and help me with my homework. Unfortunately,” she continues,

"I don't remember positive things about him after this stage of my life, especially when it comes to the things a child needs — love." In Guatemala’s male-dominated society, women are often seen as inferior. Such was the case in Silvia’s home. Her father often mistreated his wife and four daughters. His hurtful words and actions left Silvia emotionally scarred and resentful. At the age of 5, Silvia was enrolled in Compassion’s child sponsorship program. "Joining the project was a true gift,” states Silvia. “I really loved to study and to learn new things and they gave me that opportunity."

However, continuing her education was a constant battle. Silvia's father insisted she abandon her education. She completed high school only through begging, prayer and perseverance. Upon graduation, Silvia was given the chance to join the Leadership Development Program, where she would attend college and train to be a strong Christian servant leader. “I knew I didn’t have the support of my parents, so I didn’t tell them,” admits Silvia.

“I struggled with whether I should drop this great opportunity that God was giving me or not.” Bravely, Silvia chose to become part of the Leadership Development Program, although she feared hard consequences at home. Silvia graduated with the highest scores in her class and received her Bachelor's Degree in Social Work.

She’s now working for a nongovernmental organization that is trying to change the macho culture that was so damaging in her family and to others throughout Guatemala's countryside. "One of my sisters observed that everything that I want to accomplish, I achieve.

That's something I learned, thanks to Compassion and the Leadership Development Program. Because of this program, I now know what to do to overcome my upbringing. They also helped me to forgive my dad,” Silvia says with a smile.