Maria’s many things. She’s a daughter, a granddaughter and a big sister. She’s a sponsored youth, an Unbound scholar and a hard worker.
She’s also someone who knows an opportunity when she sees it.
Maria is 16 years old. She lives in Guatemala with her mother, three brothers and grandparents. Her father abandoned the family when she was 4. When Maria was sponsored in 2010 by Stephen in Arizona, it was a huge help for her family.
“My mother was alone with two children, she was pregnant and she did not have a job,” Maria said. “This is how Unbound found my family when I got sponsored. I don´t know what our lives would be like without Unbound.”
While sponsorship provided support for Maria’s school expenses, the family still struggled. So Maria kept her eyes open for any opportunity to help contribute to the household income.
The idea she settled upon was crazy. Crazy corn, to be precise.
“I got the idea from my cousin,” Maria said. “She used to sell ‘elotes locos’ [boiled ears of corn on a stick, coated with various condiments and cheese] and I saw how good she was doing. I also got encouraged when I learned that other [Unbound] scholarship holders were starting small businesses to help pay for their education. Some were raising canaries, some had hens, others sold candy.”
Working with the local Unbound coordinator, who allowed Maria to use some of her sponsorship benefit money to get started, she took over her cousin’s business.
“I sell on Saturday and Sunday afternoons which is when I have more time,” Maria said. “I sell around 80 ‘crazy corns’ every weekend. I sell them for 40 cents each. I go to the marketplace to buy the corn and I cook them in water over charcoal. I put out my sign and my table and I sell on the street.”
Maria uses some of the money she earns to help with household expenses, but most of it goes to support her studies.
“I challenge myself to be the best student that I can be,” she said. “I work very hard to get excellent grades. I also try to be a good role model for my siblings. I want them to be responsible and do well in school.
“This is my first year in high school. I am studying to be a bilingual [Spanish-English] secretary. School is very important. I will give my best effort to finish my education.”
When asked what advice she would offer to other young people, Maria became emotional.
“Take advantage of what you have,” she said. “Don’t waste it. If you have opportunities, resources, a mother and a father, don’t take them for granted.
“Go to school, value the things you have because there are many others in the world who don´t have access to those things. It’s funny how people who have more things than they really need do not value them, and people who don´t have anything wish they could have those things.”
Help a youth find additional opportunities. Sponsor today.