Emiliana, ParentChild+ parent graduate and mother of six, immigrated to the United States from Guatemala and speaks Mam, a Mayan language. Her English is limited, but in her native language she proudly described her experience at ParentChild+. ParentChild+ staff at The Guatemalan-Maya Center’s ParentChild+ (funded by the Literacy Coalition of Palm Beach County and the Children’s Services Council) translated Emiliana’s story:
Emiliana, a 37 year-old Guatemalan Mayan mother of six, speaks very little English and can neither read nor write except for her name. Growing up in a small town in Guatemala, she was never exposed to any children’s books or given the opportunity to go to school. At the young age of 6, she was responsible for doing the daily household chores and taking care of her younger siblings, while her parents worked in the fields. When she became old enough, she too began working in the fields. She was married at 14, and soon after had her first child. She moved to the United States almost a decade later, bringing him and her five year-old daughter with her.
In 2009, her two year-old daughter, Araceli, enrolled in ParentChild+ and from the first day the entire family participated in the program. Sessions took place in the one tiny room that serves as a kitchen, living room, dining room, and bedroom for a family of eight.
During the first months of the Program, Araceli was extremely shy, but her siblings made up for her silence. Eventually, Araceli came out of her shell and began to participate with her sisters Amelia (1) and Rosalinda (3), all of them soaking up everything they saw and heard during the home visits. Together they all learned about colors, shapes, and numbers. Emiliana never missed a session and benefited from the Program, learning alongside her children.
Araceli developed a particular fondness for books. Initially she loved hearing stories read to her, and later, proudly, she was able to read the stories on her own. Caring for and protecting her new books became her mission.
Emiliana was delighted to update the ParentChild+ staff on her children’s progress: Araceli, Amelia, and Rosalinda attend elementary school and are top students in their classes. Araceli graduated from kindergarten with A’s and B’s, and proudly demonstrated her excellent reading skills to the excited ParentChild+ staff.
Although this devoted mother of six barely speaks English and does not read or write, she is totally committed to her children’s education. She knows education is the key to opening doors that lead to future opportunities.
When she compares the way her two older children struggled to get through their first years of school to the way her three younger daughters enjoyed and soared through kindergarten, she sees a huge difference. She is proud that she is playing such an active role in their learning process. She continues to use the books and toys from the Program with her youngest son who is 15 months old.
Emiliana says, in her native language of Mam, ‘Kaw chiwa’wal yuwaltihoxh tet jun b’ulan anima max kolwahok yin jeb’ ix oxwan wune’ yin ya’le snaab’al jeb’ix yin skuywi b’ey snaahil kuyo. Jaahinti’an kaw chintzaalahan yutol jeb’ix wune’ti’ kaw sa’al stoo jeb’ ix yin skuyu yuxan jaahinti’an kaw chitzaala jink’ul yin junti’.’”
Translation: I am very thankful for this program because it has helped my three girls be prepared for school. I am so happy because they are doing so well in school and I am proud of them.