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August 18, 2010

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August 18, 2010

Starfish One-by-One supports the education and empowerment of young girls in rural Guatemala to break the cycle of poverty and contribute to their families and communities. They provide scholarships so that girls can continue their education in high school and give them mentors from the community. The girls meet with their mentors once a week and receive training on a number of subjects, including job skills, handling money, and running a business. I was able to spend a day with a group of girls in Panajachel, Guatemala, and their dedicated mentors. There is no doubt that these girls have overcome difficult circumstances and made sacrifices to continue their education. They are dedicated to their studies and so eager to learn; it is so inspirational to see how they have been empowered by their mentors. The mentors I spoke with hope to inspire and empower the girls become active and outspoken in their communities so that they can become agents of social change. The girls took turns explaining how different their lives are now that they have been able to continue their education. Reina started and said that before receiving a scholarship, she never spoke up in class. She was shy and intimidated. Now, she regularly participates in class and has become active in her community. She discovered her love of singing, and her new-found confidence shone through as she proudly displayed to me the scarves and shirts she made for her family. She hopes to graduate from high school, attend a university and pursue a career that will allow her to help her family and her community. Rosa is the first person, male or female, in her family to attend school past primary school, and is now tutoring a group of children from her community in Spanish. My experience with Starfish One-by-One was truly unforgettable. These girls have become inspired and now empowered to know that they can make a difference in their communities.

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The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I have seen first-hand how this program affects the lives of these young women. They have been empowered and inspired to participate in their communities.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

everyone I have met, volunteers and the women in the program, are so dedicated. It is truly inspiring to see a program actually making a difference!

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

reach so many more young women and help provide them with the education necessary to make a difference in their communities.

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 10, 2010

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June 10, 2010

I had the pleasure of being hired to produce a short promotional film for Starfish One by One on location in Guatemala. It was the most rewarding experience of my working life, and one I will never forget. The organization is doing great work with an inspiring group of young people. I hope they can continue to offer support, and grow as an organization, helping more young people get the education they rightly deserve. Thanks to everyone at Starfish and good luck to all of the students!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

spending time with some of the young people they have helped and witnessing the profound impact it has had on their own lives, and their families.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

One time

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

June 1, 2010

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June 1, 2010

I first heard of the Starfish program from a friend who serves on the Board and immediately loved the concept of the work being done by this organization. Then, I visited Guatemala myself and met some of the girls (including the one I get to sponsor), as well as their in-country mentors, parents and siblings. After that first-hand experience, I am blown away by the difference Starfish is making in the lives of these children, their family and the greater community. The Mentorship Program enhances their current public education, offers them the skills of clear communication, sound judgement and self esteem. The difference made to one child's life in this program is truly amazing, and ripples through the family and community. I highly recommend getting involved with Starfish in any capacity you desire. In addition to making a difference in a child's life, you will gain much personally.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

visiting family homes for several girls in the program and seeing the hope and love in their parents' faces.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 28, 2010

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May 28, 2010

Starfish One by One demonstrates a continual focus on quality over quantity. Through its unique blend of scholarship and mentorship, it really does promote and develop leaders that will change the landscape of their communities. I have been impressed by the dedication and heartfelt expertise of the Guatemalan staff.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

my firsthand observations of various young women's homes and in their peer support groups.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every month

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 26, 2010

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May 26, 2010

This is a fabulous organization that helps educate young Mayan girls that show great promise for continuing their education after public school ends at a young age. The mentors for the girls are Mayan women who discuss life skills + school work, etc. It is very exciting to see the change that takes place in their self esteem, etc. after just one year in the Starfish program. Before the girls are enrolled in the program, there are in depth interviews with the families to ensure the parents' full support for educating their daughters.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I mentioned the changes in the girls' presence, etc. in the above paragraph. The organization is promoting so much promise for helping these young women to live full and fulfilling lives as adults.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

All of the folks involved are exceptional people - full of love and understanding.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

enthusiastic and compassionate

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

make a much greater impact on the lives of young Mayan girls and boys

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every six months

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2009

May 21, 2010

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May 21, 2010

I am such a big fan of this charity because as a woman born in South America, I have personally witnessed the poverty and lack of opportunity for girls. I love the work that Starfish is doing in Guatemala with girls- empowering them through education and giving them the tools and self confidence they need to help themselves. They can then give back to their communities and families and break the cycle of poverty.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the letter I got back from the girl I sponsor. It is wonderful to hear about her progress.

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 18, 2010

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May 18, 2010

I fell in love with the idea behind Starfish One by One: making a difference one person at a time by educating adolescent girls. Starfish targets the most at risk and deprived individuals: rural Mayan adolescent girls who, without the help of scholarships, peer support, and mentor support, would not be able to finish jr high - high school. These very girls ALSO have more potential than anyone else in their communities to bring lasting, positive change. By getting an education, they will marry later, have fewer children, and invest their added income into their communities. A persistent effort in this direction has the potential to heal the whole culture of its most damaging problems, all of which stem from oppression and poverty. The most distinguishing aspect of Starfish One by One's program, though, is the centrality of the Starfish Mentors, who are all rural Mayan women (except for one male mentor who works with Starfish's groups of boys- boys are less at risk thangirls, but still marginalized and oppressed). The Mentors are college educated, and yet have overcome the same obstacles that Starfish students face. They speak the same dialect as their Mayan students. They guide the youngsters through their education step by step, working with them in froups of 15 at least once a week outside of the regular classroom. I met these Mentors. They are multilingual, passionate, energetic, unbelievably organized and utterly devoted to providing leadership and support to each student. I'm completely convinced of the power of this program. I had to resign as their art director because of the demands of being a mother, but if not for that I would continue to work for Starfish on a volunteer basis. I hope to have the privelege of being useful to these wonderful people again someday. I visited some of the Starfish students this past January, and saw for myself what the girls are up against, as well as the tremendous hope and energy they experience as Starfish scholarship students. These girls would do anything to finish school. It is their hope, for their own futures and for their families. I met the young woman who I have the honor of sponsoring; her name is Dolores. In Mayan families girls like Dolores are expected to take care of younger siblings (she is one of 7 or 8 children) and do household chores; that is why most girls are not allowed to continue to go to school past 6th grade. Dolores keeps up all her household chores, and studies after she has finished. It is a long day. Dolores, like all the other girls I met, also has a long walk to a pick-up spot where she rides in the back of a truck to school. Going to school for these girls is a sacrifice and a hardship. But they want it , desperately. Another young woman, Jeronima, is 20 (many girls must interrupt their studies to help aging or sick parents or siblings)and is finishing her high school degree. Since she is the only person in her village who speaks Spanish, she has begun to advocate on behalf of her village for better roads, better access. She is going to be an agent of change in her community. These girls are going to change their world. This is how they will rise, on their own, out of the poverty and marginalization that has been inflicted on them by corrupt, cruel governments for generations.

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

See the story about Jeronima, above, who is becoming a leader in her community and changing things for them. This could not have happened without Starfish's intervention.

Ways to make it better...

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Just make it grow. Duplicate it in Afghanistan and other places. Maybe fund raising could reflect a little more the seriousness of the situation these girls are in, and the modesty of their lives.

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What I've enjoyed the most about my experience with this nonprofit is...

Interacting with the founders, executive director, and board. Meeting the students and mentors and getting a glimpse of their life. Doing something real for real people.

The kinds of staff and volunteers that I met were...

Calm, energetic, intelligent, articulate, compassionate, realistic, detail oriented, passionate, kind, down to earth...

If this organization had 10 million bucks, it could...

send tendrils to other communities where girls could begin to lift their people out of desperate poverty. help more girls and families.

Ways to make it better...

I were less scattered. If I had a little more direction as a volunteer.

In my opinion, the biggest challenges facing this organization are...

getting exposure and raising enough money to grow

How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

May 16, 2010

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May 16, 2010

Starfish One by One offers scholarships and mentorships to help Mayan girls get an education so they can ultimately break the cycle of poverty. Girls in that culture are not encouraged to get an education. Starfish not only offers financial assistance, but mentors to help offer counseling and academic encouragemenet for families who do not support education for girls, or do not know how to provide academic support because they never got an education. I sponsor 2 girls and frequently exchange e-mails with one of them. She updates me on her progress and always tells me how grateful she is to already be the most educated person in her family--and she's only in 6th grade! This is a very hands-on organization and the founders and mentors work very hard to stay involved in the girls' lives and abreast of personal and academic happenings so they can continue to help them stay in the program. Great organization! Great people!

The Great!

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

These girls are already succeeding not only by doing well in school, but they are giving back to the community by tutoring pre-schoolers and other adults. It is The Girl Effect at its finest!

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How frequently have you been involved with the organization?

About every week

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2010

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