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Jose Rafael Díaz

Major: Systems Engineering
School: Universidad de Mariano Galvez
Originally From: Chiquimula, Chiquimula, Guatemala

Rafael was born November 25, 1993, and grew up with an older brother and younger sister in a poor, rural village outside Chiquimula. When ‘Rafa’ was just three years old, his father abandoned the family, so they moved into his grandmother’s small adobe home, which they shared with grandma, uncles, and a cousin. The house, like most in the village, has neither running water nor electrical appliances. Rafael’s mother cooks outside over a wood fire, and the family washes their dishes, clothes, and themselves in large outdoor pilas (cement tubs) that are filled once a week with water from a community faucet. During Rafael’s childhood, his mother worked cleaning houses in the town of Chiquimula, barely earning enough to feed her family, and often was not able to return home for weeks. Rafael remembers many times the family had only tortillas and beans to eat, and some days they had nothing at all.

Had Rafael not received help through GSSG, he would not have attended school past ninth grade, because the family could not afford the cost of diversificado (similar to US high school). However, GSSG selected 14-year-old Rafael to come to the United States in 2009 as one of their original group of scholarship students, and to live with American families while studying in US schools. After only a summer of learning English, Rafael attended a private college preparatory academy in Raleigh, NC, along with several other GSSG students. Imagine what kind of fortitude and hard work it took for Rafael to be graduate four years later from a school known for its very rigorous academics!

After completing a year at community college in Raleigh, Rafael returned to Guatemala to continue his education at the Universidad at San Carlos in Chiquimula, close to his family. A year later, because he wanted to help support his mother and aging grandmother, and help purchase materials for a better house for them (their old one is crumbling), Rafael chose to move to Guatemala City where he could use his now excellent English skills to work at a call center, while continuing his university education in engineering at ‘Saturday School’ at Rafael Landivar University.

Rafael greatly appreciates the life-changing impact of the education he has been receiving because of GSSG donors. He wrote in one of his letters to his supporters:
“One of the best ways for a third world country to develop towards a first world country is through education. Many individuals in Guatemala do not have the chance to receive a good education, or they receive none at all. The ones that cannot get a good education are the poor. I came from this background, and I learned that through an excellent education, Guatemala can achieve the dream of becoming a first world country.

With this degree I will be able to develop educational programs for students in Guatemala, and develop advanced software that will help with the students’ education. I am planning on helping my country advance because the more educated individuals we have the more our country will progress towards a better future.”

If you decide to sponsor this student click on the link to the Donate page.