How long have you been a part of EFTC?
I started studying at the School of Hope when I was 11 years old. When EFTC first visited my household, I didn't want to go to school. I told Sophie (EFTC founder) that I wasn't interested in school. I was comfortable at home and I knew what my life would be like. Girls stay at home and take care of the household. I didn't think I needed an education or that girls were supposed to have one. Sophie told me she would make me a deal, if I didn't pass my classes in the 1st year then I could quit. I passed all my classes that year, and I kept passing, now I just finished my 2nd year of university. I never knew I would love school so much.
Why did you decide to study psychology?
I want to be a psychologist in order to help other kids like me. I never had a childhood, a lot of bad things happened to me that shouldn't have. I know there are a lot of other kids going through the same things I went through and I want to use my degree to help them the way Aracely, the psychologist at the School of Hope, helped me. Aracely and the other psychologists motivated me a lot when I was younger, I will never forget talking to them and feeling relief because somebody was listening to me, someone cared.
Can you tell us about your new job?
I have been working in a factory, I clean and maintain the building. I have worked there for four months now. It is hard work and long hours, I usually work 4 or 5 days a week in 12 hour shifts. It was really hard adjusting to the schedule and commute, because sometimes I work the night shift and the factory is in another region of Guatemala, so the commute makes the days seem even longer. When I first started working, I wanted to quit because I was so tired. However, when I got my first paycheck I was so happy. I am glad I didn't give up, it has gotten easier.
How does this job compare to other work you have done?
This is my first official contracted job, but I have worked since I was a young girl. My whole family works in the market selling different kinds of things. The work is really hard, I used to work everyday, sometimes for 12 or 14 hours and only make Q1,000 (approx. £100) per month or even less. If I didn't work a day, I didn't get paid. If I didn't sell enough, I didn't get paid. The bosses yell a lot and there are a lot of negative influences like gangs and drugs in the market. It is easy to lose your way. At my job now I make Q3,200 (approx £320) per month. I will receive the two bonuses each year and I have health care. I was so nervous when I signed my contract, this is all new for me and for my family.
How was school for you this year?
It has been hard studying virtually. I really hope things return to normal next year. I considered dropping out of university a couple of months ago. I was so tired and very behind on my work because of my job. I came home exhausted one night and I pushed myself to finish my exam. I sat there and gave myself a pep talk. I told myself I could do it. From that point on I put a message on my phone reminding me to do my homework and left myself encouraging notes. I passed all my classes this semester, I am so proud of myself for that.
What are your future plans?
If I stay at my job for 2 years I could get promoted to a management position. I am interested in that because I still have several years of university left before I can work as a psychologist. Right now I am supporting my family with my job because my Mum is not working. I like being able to make sure my family has everything they need and not having to worry about how we will get by. With my salary we are now more comfortable. I am saving money to buy a house. I am tired of living in bad conditions and worrying about having to move, I want something of my own. I also want to open my own clinic for adults and children someday.
What advice would you give to other students who are struggling to find a job?
I would tell them that I know how hard it is, but if I can do it, so can they. You won't find your talent in the market, there is no future there. It was scary leaving what I knew and I spent 6 months without work. It was hard when my mom needed money for the light bill and I couldn't give it to her. But If I had never taken the chance I wouldn't have started school and I wouldn't have this job. I am the first person in my whole family to go to university, and I am a woman. I broke all of my family's assumptions about what a woman can do.
Heidy's story is a remarkable one, she is the definition of a fighter. But beyond that she exudes so much positivity and love. We have no doubt that Heidy will accomplish everything that she puts her mind to. We admire her drive, her passion, her positive attitude and her desire to motivate everyone around her.