Since its birth several years ago, the aim of Starfish has been, and is today: to instill hope, inspire, and make change- one student at a time. Our movement, rooted in promoting education and development of the whole person in order to open opportunities for youth in Guayaquil, Ecuador- is certainly a grassroots movement. But it’s a powerful one. We start small- by securing the education of one student, with the aspiration that they will then be the ones to affect change. Student, family, school, community, world. We begin with the student, and watch our movement grow from there.
And that is exactly the change that we have been blessed to see, time and time again. And it starts with our own scholars.
María Rivadeneira exemplifies the ripple effect of Starfish. A mother of three, including Ariana Sosoranga, a Starfish scholar, María has also been going back to school. María has always encouraged her children to dedicate themselves to their studies, and to never give up on their dreams. Ariana, a top student, completely involves herself in her extracurricular activities, and she assumes the role of a leader both in school and in after school projects here at Starfish. Watching Ariana achieve and succeed, María recognized how important it was for her children to have a role model to look up to, and she wanted to be that example of hard work and perseverance. María never graduated from high school, but took it upon herself to go back to school and complete her studies, with the hopes of eventually becoming a nurse.
After years of sacrificing to support her children and keep them in school, María has achieved her dream, and the one she still carries for her children. She graduated from high school this past Tuesday, March 8, 2016.
But María’s education will move even beyond high school.
She scored high enough on her college entrance exam to secure herself a spot to start her university studies right away, with the dream of becoming a nursing assistant and eventually a licensed nurse! María told us that if it weren’t for the help Starfish provides Ariana, she wouldn’t have had the financial resources or the time to finish her own studies.
María embodies the values of Starfish, and serves as a role model not only for her own children, but for our entire Starfish community. We hope that our organization will continue to reach those beyond its direct impact. In all honesty, it’s not really us that’s affecting change- it’s our students. We put our faith into our students- that they will continue this powerful grassroots movement in inciting change- one by one.
María and her three children
Ariana Sosoranga, a Starfish scholar