Maricela Lopez Catarina Tum, Santa Catarina, Guatemala

Indigenous girl leader, Maricela uses every chance she gets to lead by example and hopes that other girls from her community will have the same opportunity to go to school.

Maricela Lopez Catarina Tum, 18
Santa Catarina, Guatemala

Girl leaders around the world are advocating for their right to education. As we have seen from Malala Yousafzai’s struggle and leadership, girls still face many obstacles to simply attend school. In this week’s video blog, Let Girls Lead showcases a video submitted by indigenous girl leader, Maricela Lopez Catarina Tum. Because her town has high unemployment and a high level of poverty, Maricela was forced to leave her family to be able to have an education. A nearby group home in the city offered her room and board and helped pay her school fees. Though she knew she would miss her family and her community, Maricela made the brave decision to seize the opportunity — it was her only chance to get the education she deserves. Today, Maricela is serious about her studies and has become a dedicated student and strong leader in her new community. She focuses her efforts on fundraising for her new home, continues to work hard at being an excellent student, and is a competitive athlete. Maricela uses every chance she gets to lead by example and hopes that other indigenous girls from her community will have the same opportunity as she did, to go to school.

Maricela’s Story: Good morning! My name is Maricela Lopez Catarina Tum. I’m from Santa Catarina, an indigenous town. It is a very nice place but the problem is that indigenous people are unemployed and therefore, there is a lot of poverty. Being a girl leader is important as I figure out my future. I am from the countryside. I had the opportunity to live in a group home that invites children to live there in order to get an education. I have the qualities of a girl leader because I had to leave my family and be independent. Being a girl leader is very important especially in Guatemala today because there is so much crime, poverty, racism, and discrimination. Women and girl leaders are an example for society because they encourage people on how to move forward. I am a girl leader in the group home, in school and when playing sports.

At home, I organize fundraisers so that we can earn more money and have more furniture. In athletics, I’m a leader by training with a group and competing in many places, like the capital. And while it’s hard work, I will continue because I know that there is a future for me. At school, I am a leader because I participate with a strong moral sense because I like to learn many things and enjoy everything that I’m being taught. In the future, I wish to be an example for others to continue their education, to participate in sports and to seize every opportunity they have to live a meaningful life. Thank you!

Let Girls Lead empowers girls and their allies to lead social change through advocacy, education, economic empowerment, storytelling, and strategic partnerships, contributing to improved health, education, and livelihoods for more than 3 million girls globally.

Let Girls Lead’s Global Girls’ Conversation video contest highlights girls’ power to create change by sharing their own solutions through short videos. The video contest is an exciting opportunity for girls, organizations working with girls and girls’ allies to submit one to two-minute videos capturing girls’ solutions and successes. In partnership with The Huffington Post, Let Girls Lead will feature these compelling videos on the Global Girls’ Conversation interactive platform and on Huffington Post’s Global Motherhood column, sharing girls’ power to lead change with a global audience. Contest winners will receive $10,000 in cash, equipment, and training to create their own short films. For more information, please visit here.

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