We are excited to introduce one of two new Para Adelante scholarship recipients – Angélica María Quisque Alquijay, who will be studying Psychology in order to help others overcome their own traumas and difficult pasts. Please see her bio below.
My name is Angélica María Quisque Alquijay, I was born in Sumpango part of Sacatepéquez Guatemala. I am the sixth of seven siblings. My parents are of humble origin. Since I can remember, it has always been hard to achieve with what little we had. My life has been hard ever since I was a child. When I was three years old, my mother died giving birth to my secenth sister during a high risk delivery giving induced by an accident. I grow up without my mother and my father never realized that we were just children, my brothers and I, and that we needed him. From him, we only received harsh words and many physical blows. He always made me think that I was not intelligent and that he wanted better children. He always viewed as inferior to him and so the years went by.
When I was 9 years old, my father remarried in order to rebuild his life, but once in which I was not a part of. By then I was going to elementary school in a public school. I had no attention in my house, my dad’s attention was all for his wife and it is still for her. He did not ask if we had shoes or a pencil or if we needed anything. When I was 13 years old, I finished my primary school and my father told me that it was not necessary to continue studying and that I have to go to work. I started working a few blocks from the house for a not very kind woman. Five months later, I went to work at a place where vegetables are packed: green beans, peas, etc. where the work was done mostly at night. The work was hard and tiring. Since I managed to earn my first quetzals (Guatemalan currency), I had to help with the expenses of the house “to contribute my share” my father said. In that packing house, I worked for 7 years. But there was something in me that I dreamed of being able to study just how others did it. When I saw them come out with their uniforms and their things, it was frustrating for me not to have that opportunity.
At the age of 19 was the first time I made a decision for myself – to go to school on weekends and I did. I also started to knock on people’s doors so I could find a job, because I was forced to leave the previous one due to health reasons. I managed to find a job taking care of children and cleaning, that’s how I paid for my basic expenses and carried out the responsibilities of the house. Starting my secondary schooling was another challenge in my life. I know that I was older then and I knew how to take care of myself, but it is always necessary to have the support of parents and family and it is very sad that I did not have that. I was living in many little efficiencies, where there was no heat, nor the basic necessary comforts. Being so alone and feeling like a nobody, feeling that you are not worth anything for this life, and on top of that having to fulfill responsibilities that are not your own, yet not having the strength to say no.
Nowadays I continue with the responsibility of a disabled older brother injured in an accident. He has had severe physical and mental disabilities for 25 years. I cannot and should not leave him to his fate and as I long as live and can help him, I will. These are responsibilities that deter me from continuing my dreams. I know I should have started my own home, but I do not want to fail my brother, as I was failed when I was young and needed help. For these reasons I want to be a woman who achieves her dreams, who reaches my goals to help others in one way or another. I want to overcome my fears and recognize that I am important and that I have the ability and love to achieve anything in life.
I am anxious about the idea of giving talks, workshops, etc. that can help to change the way of people think, the way of seeing life as equal between men and women, where no one is above another, where all have the same opportunities, but I still want to pursue it. Guiding battered women, abused children, exploited young people who feel aimless, with so much to do for their families and especially in our case that our origins are indigenous and the way of thinking towards equality is not common or readily accessible.
I also recognize that before helping someone else, I am sure that the one who has to change and be someone better is me, then I can help those around me and continue with the circle and be able to make this world a better place.