Why I Sponsor a Q Fund Scholar in Guatemala

By Margaret Swahn

2016 Sandra Biblana Saloj Pecher.jpg

Sandra Bibiana

Quetzal University Fund Scholar

Siﹶ, puedo in Spanish means Yes, I can. This is the attitude exhibited by the Quetzal University Fund young women in Guatemala.  These scholars come from profound poverty with little support beyond family and they represent indigenous women who are looked down upon in their own country and who live in a culture of solid patriarchy. To get to university these students have to travel great distances and they have to learn at least two languages (Spanish and English) beyond their native Mayan dialect. When I went to university many years ago, I had the support of my family and friends and the means to do a work/study program to decrease my tuition.

We know that people internalize ideas from their socialization. Without a Q Fund education that leads to internships and ultimately jobs, these young women are left to feel “less than” and that their life holds little beyond quitting school sometimes before the end of elementary school, marrying as a young teenager, having many children, and maybe being able to make and sell


Margaret Swahn


tortillas or do some craft work that is sold to a middle-person who eventually sells it in a local market.

In 2018 I visited Guatemala on a Q Fund Insight Trip. To meet these young women, to see what they have accomplished and the goals they have for themselves was truly humbling. These young people want to become attorneys, teachers, social workers, biomedical engineers and many other professions so needed in our world today.  My scholar, Sandra Bibiana, is close to finishing her nursing program and has been instrumental in working for public awareness about the COVID crisis in Guatemala. I could not be prouder of her. The annual amount to sponsor my student is a pittance compared to educating a young person in the US. The rewards are exponential.


James Hollis, a depth psychologist has said, “ fear and lethargy are the enemies of life.”  These young women inspire me daily as they push through their fears and certainly, they are not lethargic in any way.  Yes, I can sponsor a young woman who will give back as an employable professional whose horizons have been broadened, and whose relationships have been expanded. Won’t you join me?