Many obstacles keep children living in poverty from reaching their full potential.
Gaby was raised by a single mother in a rural region of El Salvador, so the odds were already against her.
Gaby’s father passed away, leaving her mother, Dina, as the sole provider for Gaby and her four siblings. Dina’s income as a baker fluctuates, as her wages depend on how many orders she gets and how much bread she sells daily.
Gaby is 22 and has been sponsored through Unbound since she was 7 years old. Her sponsors are Mike and Mary from Georgia.
“I think that sponsorship has helped me a lot and my family, too,” Gaby said. “When we started in the program they gave us groceries. For my mother it was a big support because she is a single mother.”
In addition to receiving sponsorship support, Gaby was selected as a scholarship student. She receives financial support from Unbound to help cover the cost of her education. In return, she provides 30 hours of community service each month.
Gaby spends her volunteer time helping with correspondence and accounting at the local Unbound office in Santa Ana.
With some financial burdens alleviated, another challenge Gaby faces is the geographic access to higher education. While many children from her rural town abandon their studies after high school, Gaby chose to pursue her dream of becoming an accountant by attending a university in Santa Ana.
She boards a local bus at 5:10 a.m. and transfers three times before finally arriving at the university in Santa Ana around 8:30 a.m.
“I think that the distance is one of the challenges because not many are going to say, ‘I’m go to go there [to study far away],'” Gaby said.
Beyond the perils and exhaustion that come from commuting almost six hours each day, the foreign nature of everything about studying in a new city made the transition even more challenging.
“At first when I came to study I didn’t have any friends, because no one from my high school came to study here,” Gaby said. “[I also] didn’t know the bus routes. Sometimes I was afraid to fail because I didn’t know if I could finish my studies, but now I know that I can!”
Gaby’s confidence comes from the encouragement she’s received from her older sisters Roxana, 26, and Zulma, 23, who have both walked the same path of attending university. When Gaby’s struggled in her studies, her sisters have been there to remind her that setbacks are part of the process of becoming successful.
“One time I failed a class and I thought, ‘I can’t continue,’ but I did!” Gaby said, thanks to her sisters’ encouragement. Gaby is in her fourth year of a five-year accounting program. After she completes her fifth year, she will spend one additional year completing her thesis in order to receive her degree in accounting.
Her travels likely won’t end once she graduates. Gaby hopes to move to the capital city of San Salvador to find work in order to support her mother and her family.
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