Do you know what it is like to feel desperate? To believe there is more out there for you, but unable to flee your circumstances? That is how Rosalinda felt a few years ago as a housemaid. But God had something else planned. And now, a few years later, Rosalinda is on her way to starting her own business at the tender age of 18.
The Typical Path of a Guatemalan “Indígena”
If you travel to Guatemala, the luscious beauty of the “Land of Eternal Spring” will inspire you. You will also fall in love with the colorful artwork and traditional dress of Guatemala’s indigenous population. But behind that beauty, is the sad reality that most indigenous Guatemalans live in extreme poverty. Few are able to climb the social ladder to professional success. The possibilities are even less likely for women.
Guatemalan indigenous women fare worse than their male counterparts in almost every metric. They have less access to healthcare than indigenous men and therefore have a much higher mortality rate. Socially they are discriminated against, not only for being indigenous but also for being women. Culturally, among their people, women are not considered worth educating, and therefore more likely to never finish elementary education.
With the deck stacked against them, Guatemalan indigenous women are usually left only with three options: to pick fields, become maids, or sell whatever they can at the local street markets. None of these options provide a path out of poverty.
Stuck in a Cycle of Poverty
Rosalinda seemed destined to be trapped in the same cycle of poverty and to never leave the reality of her lot in life. Although she did enjoy a certain level of comfort for part of her childhood, when her dad lost his job, that changed dramatically.
In her teens, she found herself living in a “casa de lámina,” an aluminum house typical of Guatemala’s poor. She slept on a piece of cardboard on the dusty floor. Her belly was often rumbling from hunger as her parents didn’t even have enough money to afford a tortilla, a common staple in the Guatemalan diet.
But even in her poverty, she clung to God. She gave her life to Jesus at 15 and like Job, she dare not hold her suffering against Him. Her Christianity offended many and she and her family were often chided for it. “Where is your mansion?” they mocked. It hurt, but she was unmoved.
At 16, she got an opportunity to work as a maid with her aunt in Guatemala City. It was a low point for her. The pay was little, the prospects were bleak. At times, she felt that she didn’t amount to anything. She didn’t realize at the time that God was already on the move.
The Chance of a Lifetime
After initially working as a maid for 30 days, another opportunity opened up for Rosalinda with a family member to work at a Christian mission house. And then the most wonderful thing happened. She was offered a scholarship to go to chef school.
The mission house Rosalinda found herself is part of New Vision’s Guatemalan ministry. There, she met Pastors Luis and Lucy. The Pastors took her through a process of inner healing first, to face the demons of her past. With a new sense of purpose and hope, Rosalinda jumped at the opportunity to go to chef school when the Pastors made it available to several individuals.
All of her excitement almost came to a screeching halt when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The school closed its doors and it would test her faith and perseverance. However, when the school resumed the training via online learning, she did not miss a beat. She dove back in with rigorous determination despite her fears and the sacrifice that it would require — to be away from her family. God had given her an opportunity, a way out, and she was not about to waste it. Rosalinda graduated on January 31, 2021. The only one to do so from the group who received the scholarship.
One Closed Door Leads to an Opened One
With a heart full of hope, Rosalinda tried desperately to find a job within her field. However, door after door shut. “You are not old enough,” they said. But that closed door would lead to a much greater opportunity.
Back at the mission house, Pastor Lucy worked with Rosalinda to improve the traditional “tostada,” flat, hard-shell tortillas with toppings. The most common tostada either has refried beans spread sprinkled with cheese on top or Guacamole. But Pastor Lucy and Rosalina wanted something a little more gourmet. They experimented and came up with several delicious recipes that would take the typical tostada to a whole new level. That is where the idea for Tostadas Volcánicas was born.
Through the generosity of Kehe, a gourmet food distributor, and others, Rosalinda was able to secure a grant to open up her own tostada business in the tourist town of Atitlán. In addition, Rosalinda has enrolled in English classes as part of her training and preparation. She wants to be able to communicate with tourists.
Here at New Vision Community Church, we are excited to see how God will use Rosalinda through this new opportunity. She is a determined young woman, willing to step outside social norms to achieve what few in her situation have before. But what we love most about Rosalinda, is that she is not seeking success for the sake of success. She wants to use this opportunity that God has given her to help raise other indigenous Guatemalan girls out of poverty. Her heart is generous and she is humble. With God’s help, we know she will.
Please consider partnering with us to help provide more opportunities for women like Rosalinda.