Frequently Asked Questions
Why Girls' Education?
Indigenous girls in Guatemala are among the country's most disadvantaged group with limited schooling, early marriage, frequent childbearing, and chronic poverty. In Guatemala, the average Maya teenage girl has obtained only 3.5 years of education. Furthermore, only ten percent of indigenous girls are enrolled in secondary school and less than one percent continue to University. The need to invest in education, particularly for under served girls is acute. Education is one of the most critical areas of empowerment for women. It is also an area that offers some of the clearest examples of discrimination women suffer. Among children attending school there are twice as many boys as girls, and among literate adults there are twice as many men as women. Offering basic education to girls is one sure way of giving them greater power, enabling them to make genuine choices over the lives they wish to lead. This is not a luxury. It is a basic human right. It is not sufficient to stop with basic, secondary education. Providing an opportunity for young women to advance to the next level of education at university is essential if the existing macho culture is ever to change. University graduates will become tomorrow's leaders of transformational change.
The current state of the education system is substandard. Many classrooms, especially in rural Guatemala, do not have adequate teaching materials. Additionally, with more than half the population living below the poverty line, many children – especially rural and indigenous children – are forced to drop out of school to help support their families or because they are unable to afford the cost of uniforms, books, supplies and transportation. Gender disparity in Guatemala is among the worst in the western hemisphere, second only to Haiti. This key problem is seen in education statistics. Of the 2 million children in Guatemala that do not attend school, the majority are indigenous girls living in rural areas. In fact, over half of the Guatemalan population is indigenous and less than 30% of poor, rural indigenous girls are enrolled in secondary school. Almost none are enrolled in university.
There is no better time. The world is changing fast and Guatemala needs to change with it.
Which is it, Starfish or MAIA?
Starfish and MAIA are the same organization, they just changed their name in 2018 to coincide with the opening of their new MAIA Impact School. The new name, which is the name of one of the largest stars in the sky, has more meaning and symbolism for the Girl Pioneers and the staff; it means the same in all three languages, English, Spanish, and Katchikel; and it maintains the "star" metaphor, which is such a strong piece of the organizational culture.
What is the relationship between MAIA, the Evergreen Rotary Foundation, and the Q Fund?
We are partners in advancement of the same goal - girls' education. For a while, Starfish/MAIA provided fiscal oversight of the Q Fund as well as providing staff support on the ground in Guatemala. Beginning in January, 2019, the fiscal oversight part has shifted to the Evergreen Rotary Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Rotary Club of Evergreen, Colorado. MAIA continues to provide staff support in Guatemala.
What is the future of the Q Fund?
The current executive committee of the Q Fund is committed to ensuring that all students admitted into the program will continue to receive full financial and supplemental support until they graduate from university. Since 2020, no new students have been admitted to the program because the supply of graduates from the original Starfish mentoring program will be exhausted. Since the typical university program in Guatemala is six years, this means that the program will continue at least through 2025. The Q Fund and MAIA will enter into discussions to determine what, if any form the program continues beyond that time.
How can I contribute?
You can donate at any time using the Donate link on the menu. If you would like to become a sponsor and support one of the students directly, please see the Sponsor page.
Can I visit the Program?
Yes. Each year in February, we arrange an "insight trip" for a group of 10 to 12 persons to visit Guatemala and see first hand the work of the Q Fund and MAIA. During these trips, we visit students homes to meet their families, visit one of the universities that they attend, tour the MAIA-Impact School, and attend a group meeting of all the Q Fund students. Trips are usually of about ten days duration, and include a few days of liesure in Antigua, the old Spanish colonial capital. If you are interested or would like more information, please use the Contact Us link on the menu.