Dreaming of a Career

The young women of NPH
March 9, 2015 - New Zealand

Maria, Mariah and Maya get ready for their first day back at school for the last time!

They rise at 5am. They clean, do chores, have breakfast and clean again. Any homework is done then, in time for lunch at 11.45 so they can be in their first class by 12.30pm. Apart from a 15 minute break to eat some bread brought from lunch (the students with money buy snacks) they will be in class until 6.30pm. After dinner and dishes back at the orphanage there is some free time to play with the younger children or snatch a little dreamtime watching American TV shows.

This is the routine five days a week for 19 year old triplets Maria, Mariah and Maya*. These young women are one of two sets of triplets and two sets of twins, making up 10 per cent of the children at NPH Peru, two hours south of the capital Lima.

Like those before them, when the girls graduate they will complete a year of service as volunteers with NPH until hopefully gaining a university scholarship to join their older sister Rosario, already studying in Lima.

Sitting on their bunk beds, the girls are realistic, with scholarships increasingly competitive. Like all triplets, its tempting to categorise them but each is their own woman, despite the complementing pink blankets and hanging string and feather dreamcatchers.

This is a vastly different world to where they were before NPH took them in as young girls who had been abandoned by their mother. She had sent them to live with relatives who treated them as virtual house slaves, abusing the triplets and, not believing girls needed an education, banned them from school in favour of constant domestic work.

The one thing they've had though is each other and a constant thirst to learn.

Maria dreams of being a civil engineer and excels in sciences and mathematics. Mariah is the quieter, curious triplet and wants to study chemistry and be a research scientist, while Maya is intrigued by fashion and design, which she wants to pursue, perhaps across the border in Brazil.

Like all teenagers, the girls say that they are impatient to become adults. They are clear though on what life would be like if they did not have the support of the close-knit NPH family who has wrapped around the triplets, encouraging and empowering them to follow their dreams.

When asked what they would likely be doing now if not at NPH, Maya is clear that they would likely be selling food on the streets or looking after children. They explain that girls in their town begin having children at the age of 12 but often don't marry until their late teens. This means that families often have half siblings from different fathers. With larger numbers of children for the mother to look after, higher education and careers for the daughters are unlikely to be high on the family's priority list.

The triplets dream of travelling and working overseas. Maria is keen on the US and Mariah would like to go to Haiti where NPH has a large family and runs a medical centre in Port au Prince. They would like to eventually have children, but not in multiples.

"One each, says Mariah. "A girl and a boy."

Unlike their previous generations, the three are determined to be mothers and career women. They plan to earn enough to pay for help around the house. When I tell them that in my homeland more husbands are opting to stay home and look after the children, the triplets erupt into uncontrollable giggles.

They explain that the man should have some responsibility in bringing up children but to rely on him for child rearing while the wife pursues her goals and pays all the bills is unheard of.

Back in the reality of the triplet's current life, they continue to dream of a different future to those their mother and their outside peers experience. They will need to continue studying hard in the hope of obtaining a University scholarship and raise funds to support their studying needs.

There are still barriers to fulfilling their dreams but these young woman already on the way to breaking a generational poverty cycle and inspiring others to follow their path.

As triplet they know it will not always be possible to be together but they fully intend to do so eventually when their goals are fulfilled.

"We want to be old women together, giggles Maya "Happy old grandmas with no teeth!"

Can you help break down the barriers and contribute to the young women of NPH as they pursue their career dreams?

These girls need your support now. If you wish to donate, please do so into the NPH NEW ZEALAND CHARITABLE TRUST BOARD account. Account Number: 12-3109-0106881-50 Please add your name as the reference and “PERU GIRLS ED" and 100% of your donation goes to this specific project.

Thank you /Muchas Gracias!

*Names have been changed to protect their identities.

Lisa-Marie Richan
NPH New Zealand Board Member




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