Twenty-two year-old Brenda was born in Sayaxche, Peten in Guatemala. When she was five, Brenda moved with her parents and five siblings to Los Reyes, San Andres, Peten, located far from her extended family in Sayaxche. Los Reyes was a very small, isolated town, and the only transportation to and from it was one bus that ran at four in the morning. Right before Brenda started second grade, her father made it clear that his belief was that women did not need school and that their responsibilities were only in the home. Despite this, Brenda continued her studies. That same year, family problems caused the separation of her parents, and Brenda moved back to Sayaxche with her mother and siblings while her father stayed in Los Reyes. In Sayaxche, she lived with her grandmother for a short time before being taken to a government home called the Temporary Home of Zacapa. Officials there decided that Brenda and her sisters could not return to live with their mother, but had to stay until they turned eighteen. Brenda did not finish school that year, and she was then sent to a girls’ school to finish third grade.
One day while Brenda was in school, the principal told Brenda and her sister that there was a place in Guatemala City where they could live and continue their studies. Brenda was excited—at Zacapa’s home, she could only go to school until 9th grade, but that was not the case at this new location, called Esperanza Juvenil. In 2006, Brenda and her sister moved to Esperanza Juvenil, the Boys Hope Girls Hope Guatemala affiliate. On joining the Boys Hope Girls Hope family, Brenda said:
“I knew I was going to be better, that I would have the opportunity to change my life, to leave all the bad memories and situations behind, this was the opportunity I needed to be someone better. When I first came to Esperanza Juvenil, I loved it, I wanted to stay. I had never imagined that there was such a place. Coming to Esperanza Juvenil is the best opportunity I have received. I have had everything I ever imagined. Esperanza Juvenil gave me a new family, a safe place to live and many opportunities.”
In 2014, Brenda began her university studies. She has successfully completed three years of Business Administration, and this year she came to Atlanta to study English at Georgia Tech. She is grateful to be enjoying her experience in another country and getting to know new cultures. Brenda has had to strive for everything she has achieved in her life—including going to college and studying in the United States—but her efforts have been successful with the help of the Boys Hope Girls Hope Guatemala affiliate.