As I browse Facebook, a familiar face pops up on a post by the Universidad del Valle, one of the highest ranked universities in Guatemala. The smiling person on the photo is Rosa Mariela Zapeta, a sponsor student, and the post is about her new position at the University on the highlands campus (the university campus on the west side of the country). I immediately thought, this needs to be shared! And with great joy I called her to interview her so I could share her answers directly to you. Come and join me on this success story!
Can you give me your full name and age? My name is Rosa Mariela Zapeta Par, but everyone calls me Mariela. I am 20 years old.
Tell me about your family. My dad, Edgar, is a Baptist pastor. My mom, Luisa, is a teacher at a public school. I have two older siblings. My older brother is a music teacher and my older sister works at an international school in Panajachel.
How old were you when you got sponsored? I think I was 11 years old. I still remember the excitement of being told I had sponsors. I never thought they would accompany me for so long! I am blessed.
What are you currently studying at university? This year I will obtain my degree on Learning Disabilities.
Why was there a post about you at the University’s Facebook? (she giggles with excitement) I had just received my new job position at the university and it was being announced. I am the Director of the Innovative Projects department. We create self-sustaining alternatives for low income families in our area. The team I am working with is called ENACTUS-ALTIPLANO and we annually participate on competitions against other national universities.
What does your job as a director consists of? As a director, it is my responsibility to oversee that the products we create are innovative and useful for society. I also coordinate the training workshops that the families take and also those we offer to the public (they are trained on how to do these products themselves). I am also in charge of the logistics for sale and delivery of the product.
What has been your greatest challenge so far? We have encountered a number of challenges but I think the hardest one is the communication boundaries – not everyone has a cell phone or internet, and sometimes it is very hard to reach the families.
How has the Sponsorship influenced your life? Being sponsored has been truly essential to my academic career and my entire life. I have counted on their financial support for years. They have been there for me emotionally and have lifted me up in prayers. I do not think I would be here now if not for their support. I have never met my sponsors in person, at least not yet, but they are part of what I do in and outside the university.
How has the spiritual education you received since childhood influenced your life? The christian values I was taught at home and at school have helped me to find guidance in God, to set a quality standard among my friends and colleagues, and has allowed me to serve those who need it the most.
Our interview comes to an end. I thank her for her time. She says she is happy to help. She tells me again how blessed she is and thanks me for the opportunity of sharing her gratitude this way. I gave her some words of encouragement and hung up thanking the Lord for all those sponsors who have been part of Proyecto Fe in one way or another through the years. Some have been able to become long time partners, others, because of different life situations, have been with us for part of the journey. They are all important. They all have made a difference.
A big thank you to all the sponsors for impacting lives one at a time. Many are blessed in return.