The Very Best Kind of Gift

A few weeks ago I Want Her Job challenged its community — including you — to come together in support of educating two girls in Guatemala through our ‘Likes’ for Learning campaign, in partnership with She’s the First and Starfish One-by-One.

The idea was small. I Want Her Job asked you to “like” the site on Facebook and follow the community’s Twitter feed to raise money, awareness and support of women’s education. And “like” you did! On Facebook, more than 800 people supported the campaign, and on Twitter we reached nearly 300 followers. But that’s nothing compared to all of the community members who retweeted, posted the campaign to their Facebook walls, sent out e-mails, invited their friends, wrote blog posts, and generally got the word out in every way possible.

Without you this never would have happened.

On Christmas Eve I received an e-mail from Travis Ning, executive director at Starfish One-by-One. He wanted to introduce us to the two girls we’re sponsoring.

I’m thrilled to share that in 2011 you will get to know Andrea Sosof Sisay, a girl living in Santiago, Atitlan, and Zonia Saloj, who is from a rural village across the lake near the city of Sololá.

I don’t have a lot of information on Andrea yet, but I can tell you that Zonia is the oldest of eight siblings and works making beaded necklaces. Her dream is to graduate and later pursue a degree at a university. She hopes to also see her community become more developed and have more employment opportunities. Those are pretty grown-up aspirations for a 13-year-old girl.

These are two girls who are set on making a difference in their communities, and I want to ask you to help me welcome them.

Starfish asked us to send a letter to Andrea and Zonia telling them about some of our favorite holiday traditions. So, if you like lighting candles for a Christmas Eve service or have a day-after-Christmas annual tag football game with your family in the snow, please share your favorite holiday tradition below. I will compile your responses and they will be sent to Starfish for translation and will reach the girls early this year.

And if all this wasn’t exciting enough, I have one other thing to report. Christen Brandt, executive director of She’s the First, along with Kate Lord, She’s the First’s photographer, are headed to Guatemala tomorrow to meet those involved in Starfish One-by-One, including the mentor who will work with the girls we’re sponsoring. Her name is Candelaria, and her story gives me goosebumps. She’s a fighter who has never given up on her dreams. But you’ll hear more about that in a few weeks, because She’s the First is going to record a video interview with her that you’ll get to watch right here on I Want Her Job.

Thank you for helping us raise enough money to sponsor the education and mentorship of two girls who will now get the chance to better themselves, their families and their communities. Because of you, this is possible. Our community did this.

What will we do next?

P.S. A BIG thank you to our sponsors. Without your help, this campaign would have been a lot more difficult to bring to reality. And thank you to Tammy Tibbetts, Christen Brandt and Travis Ning, who change the lives of girls through education every single day.