Spotlight on Betsabeth’s Nursing Career!

Hi, I’m Betsabeth.  I was a scholarship recipient and now I’m one of the workers.  Thanks to God and my mom’s hard work along with my own, I was able to reach my goal of graduating and with the support from Starfish, I was able to realize my dream.

Now that I’m done with high school, I signed up for college and I am studying medicine so that I can be a licensed nurse.  I am learning a lot.  I learn all the different kinds of diseases and illnesses and they’ve taught me to take pulses, breathing, blood pressure and the pupillary reflex.  Now we are doing a internship with elderly people.  We are helping them to control their blood pressure on a daily basis, and at the same time I am doing an internship at a morgue where I am learning to do autopsies and analyze the body and all of its organisms, and the brain and how much skin we really have as human beings.

After all of the internships and practicals, at our final class we are given a test where we have to explain what we learned.  I really like my major because it’s helping me get over my fears and at the same time preparing me to be a great professional.

Here I’ll put a photo to show you what I am learning. Thank you!

Hola, Soy Betsabeth.  Fui becada en Estrellitas del Mar, ahora soy trabajadora.  Gracias a Dios y al esfuerzo de mi mamá y mío, logre llegar a mi meta que era graduarme y gracias al apoyo que me dio Starfish Foundation, pude cumplir mi sueño.

Ahora que salí del colegio, me inscribí en la universidad y estoy estudiando la carrera de medicina para llegar hacer licenciada de enfermería.  Estoy aprendiendo mucho.  Me enseña a conocer todas clases de enfermedades de las personas y me enseñaron a tomar el pulso, la respiración, la presión arterial y el reflejo pupilar y ahora mismo estamos haciendo practica con las personas adultos mayores.  Le estamos controlando su presión diariamente y a su vez estoy haciendo practica en un morgue donde estoy aprendiendo hacer la autopsia y analizar en el cadáver todos sus organismos y el cerebro y cuantas piel tenemos en realidad el ser humano.

Después de todas las practicas que tenemos en cada clases al finalizar de la clase nos toma un examen por lo cual nosotros tenemos explicar lo que aprendimos y me gusta mucho mi carrera porque me esta ayudando a superar mis miedos y a su vez a prepararme en mi carrera para ser una buena licenciada.

Aquí les pongo una fotito para enseñarles lo que estoy aprendiendo. ¡Gracias!


Ayudante Update from: Guasmo!

This week we get the chance to hear from our “Ayudantes” in Guasmo about the beginning of the school year there!

“During May and June, we set up a schedule with the parents to help us with snack.  So far, everyone has collaborated and the kids are satisfied with the snack they are given.

In the Starfish Foundation in Guasmo we have 2 groups:

Group 1: The students come Monday, Wednesday and Thursday.  In the morning we have 7th, 8th and 9th graders, and in the afternoon we have 10th, 11th and 12th grades.  In each group they do their homework, and during free time we do ice-breakers.  The new students and the old students get along very well, there’s a lot of friendship and everyone helps each other.

Group 2: The students come Tuesday and Friday in the morning and they are in 6th and 7th grade.  They do their homework and during free time we do ice-breakers.  The new students and the old students get along very well, there’s a lot of friendship and everyone helps each other.  They really like the ice-breakers and other activities, and they have a lot of ideas.

We also had a parents meeting to explain the new rules, values and snack system.

In the foundation, we also go on field trips, and one of those was the Integration Day when we spent a morning playing sports with the Scholars.

Yuliana, Cynthia, Lissette, Betsabeth & Marcos”

Ayudante update from: Flor de Bastión!

Today our Employees or Program Leaders  (the “Ayudantes”) share with us a beautiful reflection about the beginning of the school year at our Flor de Bastión site…stay tuned next week for the Guasmo updates!

“Hi!  Here we have a very friendly environment where some of our most important values include: respect, fellowship, humility and mutual cooperation between us and the students.

We have three groups during the week, and each one is different from the others. One of these groups is the group with the youngest students, which is also our most active group.  Then we have our morning group which is a little quieter and always gives a 100% effort in their work, and lastly the second afternoon group which is a little more challenging to work with – some are quiet and others talk a lot, but all have dreams and goals to achieve!

We as employees and leaders always try to be patient and also to get to know each student better.  We share our friendship and our knowledge with them.  Even so, there are some things we are still working to improve, and every day we strive to be better.  That’s a little of what is going on at the foundation.

Jessica, Tyrone, María, Cecilia, Kevin & Jasmin”

You might notice a new name on that list – Find out more about the newest addition to our Starfish team, Cecilia, over at our Employees page!

Professional Development Workshop with Destination Imagination

Thanks to Destination Imagination: Guasmo Sur Project (DIGS), and their leader Sarah for a great set of workshops for our employees this past week.  We learned how to think creatively – and to teach our kids to think creatively as well!  Destination Imagination teaches Teamwork, Problem Solving and Creativity.

Sarah and her volunteer Rosa starting off the workshop!

One of the main goals of  DI is that the kids learn to think creatively, and for themselves, without someone giving them a hint or the answer as is customary in the rote memorization learning system of the public schools in Ecuador.

In DI there are Central Challenges that are worked on throughout the year, while during the workshops we learned how to do Instant Challenges that are either based on presentation or construction.  These challenges generally take around 5 minutes and are a great way to wake up our minds to start a meeting – Here are some pictures from the challenges!

In May, we will be participating in another set of workshops with the volunteers from DIGS and teachers from another scholarship program at Mi Cometa.  We’re excited to continue working together with our community organizations to improve the quality of education in our neighborhoods!

Starfish students participating in one of the activities we learned at DI!

Thanks DIGS & Sarah!!

Second School Visits – with an Excellent Surprise!

This past week we finished up the second set of school visits for this academic year.  This time, our employees were a great help, allowing us to complete the visits in less time since we were able to split up the 18 schools where our 28 scholars study.

Set up of a typical high school in Guayaquil.  This is where Jerson studies!

Starfish aims to visit all the schools where our scholars study at least twice per year to check up on their grades, behavior and any other concerns the school & teachers may have.  Unfortunately, this is not something all parents are very accustomed to doing, and many schools have praised Starfish for going above and beyond caring about grades on a piece of a paper.


My favorite story of all the visits came 2 weeks ago when we visited “Colegio Nacional Mixto Jose Pino Ycaza”.  In the afternoon, one of our graduating seniors studies at Pino Ycaza.  In the morning, 2nd year Starfish Scholar Argenis attends school.  Argenis has been a consistent presence at Starfish since its first days in Flor de Bastión.  He lives with his family just across the street from our classroom, so it’s a pretty easy commute!

Argenis and Ariel giving a presentation at one of our tutoring sessions.

Though always in attendance, Argenis was never the first to volunteer for any activity and he always brought home average grades.  When Starfish employee, Jasmin, and I stepped foot into his high school for this second visit we were greeted with a wonderful surprise.  His teacher was ready and waiting for us, so excited to tell us, “Argenis participates all the time in class now, and his grades are on the rise.  When you visited last time I told him that I have to tell you guys the truth, and I think that motivated him to do better.”  That same afternoon when I arrived at tutoring, Argenis handed me a copy of his current grades, which had indeed risen by more than a full letter grade!!

Argenis participating in an icebreaker with Pamela at one of our monthly meetings!

"Noticias" (News) from our Employees!

We are about 6 weeks away from closing out another successful school year, due in large part to our 7 part-time employees who have gone above & beyond this year to help our students learn, as well as help develop Starfish programming!

Find out a little more about what they are all up to outside of Starfish…

Last week we welcomed Lissette to our team.  She is finishing up her second year at the state university in commercial engineering and has been a great addition to our Guasmo team!


Yuliana and Cynthia have been busy visiting all the universities here in Guayaquil in hopes that they will be able to study at the university level this coming school year, along with Starfish graduates, Betsabeth and Maria Belen!

Cynthia, Yuliana & Marcos at our Christmas party!

Marcos is finishing up the “Pre”, which is sort of like a required prep-course for some colleges here in Ecuador.  He has an intensive schedule through February when he will finish so that he can begin his first year of college in May with the others!

Tyrone is in his last year at the state university.  In March he will finish classes and then he will have 3 months to work on & present his thesis!

Tyrone & Jasmin giving a presentation to their Refuerzo students!

Jasmin is finishing up her first year of college at the state university.  These past few months have been extra busy with an additional English course – but we are proud to report she is an excellent English student!

Since Karina joined our team in October she quickly gained the trust and respect of all of the 22 students she works with in the afternoon in Flor de Bastión.  Karina is also looking into possible enrollment in college for next year!

Karina with some of our youngest participants – Yanilexis, Betsy & Dayanna

We are so blessed to have these 7 wonderful individuals as constant support and role models for our scholars, THANK YOU!!!!

Starfish Incentives: Field Trip to the Pool!!!

Maria, Juliana and Dayanna

At the end of the first semester of school, we rewarded those students who achieved at least a “B” average with a field trip to the pool!

Pamela, Yuliana, Geovanny, Cynthia, Joel, Nagelhi and Genesis!

Our goal is that all Starfish scholars will achieve at least a B average by the end of their first year with Starfish.  Last year, 32% of of our scholars achieved at least a B average.  This year after the first semester, 54% of Starfish Scholars, and 61% of all of the students we work with are have a B average through the first semester.

Gema, Arelisa, Eddy, Abigail, Milena, Cristhian and Pamela

This increase in grades is due in large part to the help of our 6 part-time employees or “ayudantes”.

Starfish Employees Jasmin and Karina

Check out some more pictures from the fun-filled day at the pool!

Sofia, Briggette and Andreina

Cristhian and Pamela
Scholars Joel and Geovanny with Employees Yuliana, Cynthia and Marcos

Visiting Schools in Guayaquil

I have spent the past few weeks visiting all of the schools that the Starfish Scholars attend.  Out of all the youth we work with, 28 are Starfish Scholars.  These 28 scholars attend 18 different schools.

On each visit, a parent and a Starfish Employee accompanied me so that we could find the correct person to talk to.  In the visit we explained more about Starfish, what we provide for the students, and found out more about their school life.  The teachers told us about each students’ behavior, grades, test scores, missing work and any other concerns they may have had.

The visits were eye-opening for me.  From working with the students, I had some ideas about their school life, but seeing it first hand was an entirely different story.  Most schools I visited were huge, with an average of 40-50 students per classroom.  With class sizes so large, it often seemed like the students were in control, rather than the teacher.  It was also rare the teacher who had the time to seek out a personal relationship with a student to help them succeed, again due to these class sizes.  Often times teachers had to pull out folders or notebooks, or call the student over to see who he/she was.  However, I was pleasantly surprised that despite all of these challenging realities, many teachers were able to easily recall the Starfish scholars as they are stepping up to be leaders in their classroom.

Milena is the Presidenta (President) of her class. Danny is part of the student council.  Joel is on a committee that studies human rights.  Arelisa is also Presidenta of her class – and up for election of President of the whole high school!

Tutoring in Flor

We hope that these visits allowed the teachers to see the help that some of their students receive, and open up the door to better future communication with their families and with us.  When we all work together, we can help the students achieve their maximum potential.  With the grades and comments we received this week we are having parent conferences when necessary, as well as an employee meeting to discuss specific areas that need strengthening for each student.

Unfortunately, there aren’t any pictures of these visits, so enjoy these other pictures from August!!

One of the groups we took to visit Damien House.

Don Leon working hard on his hamaca (hammock).

Yessenia, helping one of the patients fix his radio.

Starfish scholars learning how to play dominos at Damien House.

Meet Cynthia, our newest employee!

Meet Cynthia, our newest Starfish employee.  She will be joining us in our Guasmo neighborhood in the mornings to help out with our tutoring program!

“Hi, my name is Cynthia.  I am 25 years old.  I have 2 precious children and I am the happiest mom to have them with me.  I am very fun.  I like to learn a little bit of everything and I like to listen to music.  I am friendly.  It’s nice to spend time with the kids at The Starfish Foundation even though it’s just two times a week.  I try to help them so that they can be great young people for the future.  I hope they can always count on me.”

“Hola, me llamo Cynthia.  Tengo 25 años.  Tengo 2 bebes preciosos y soy la mamá más feliz de tenerlos conmigo.  Soy muy divertida.  Me gusta aprender de todo un poco y me gusta escuchar música.  Soy amiguera.  Es muy agradable de pasar con los chicos de la Fundación Estrellitas el Mar aunque sea 2 veces a la semana.  Trato de ayudarlos para que sean jóvenes de bien para el futuro.  Espero que siempre puedan contar conmigo.”

Get to know the rest of our employees on our website!

"What I like About Starfish"

When Briggette finished her homework early, she used her free time to share with us what she likes most about Starfish.

Briggette working on her homework with Starfish employee Yuliana.
What I Like about Starfish

I like to be at Starfish because they help me with the basic subjects like Science, Math, Language Arts, Social Studies and it’s a great help for my parents.  Thanks to this situation, I have my uniform, backpack, notebooks, everything thanks to The Starfish Foundation.  I also like Starfish because thanks to this I have friends, and having friends is cool because what I don’t understand, they can teach me.  I thank all of you for what you’ve done for my siblings and mostly for me because I don’t know how to thank Jennifer and most of all Isa.  I hope to continue in the Foundation.  I thank Yuli, Andrew, Danny and my friends.  Thank you, seriously, from the bottom of my heart.

~Briggette Bravo, Age 11

Briggette, center, showing off her dance moves at June’s Integration day.
Los Gustos sobre Estrellitas

A mí me gusta estar en Estrellitas porque me ayudan en las materias básicas como CC.NN., Matemática, Lengua, EE.SS., y es una carga para mis padres.  Gracias a esta situación tengo uniformes, mochila, cuadernos, todo gracias a la Fundación Estrellitas del Mar.  Esto también me gusta porque gracias a eso tengo amigos, y tener amigos es chevere porque lo que no entiendo me lo enseñan.  Les agradezco todo lo que han hecho por mis hermanos y sobre to a mí porque no se como agradecerles a Jennifer y sobre todo a Isa.  Espero seguir estando en la Fundación.  Le agradezco a Yuli, Andrés, Danny y a mis compañeros.  Gracias en serio de corazón.

~ Briggette Bravo