My name is Shaili, and I have been the Development Assistant for WINGS for over a year. I was born and raised in Guatemala, but my journey at WINGS started when I was living in Minnesota and I had just graduated from college. As many college students, I had no clue what to do, but there was one thing I knew for certain; I wanted to back to my country and work at a nonprofit organization that focused on women. I was job searching on the daily, and my uncle recommended an organization that I had sadly never heard about.
I explored WINGS’ website and saw all their efforts and accomplishments and I knew I had to work there. I decided to write to the Executive Director Rodrigo Barillas, who kindly offered me an informational interview via Skype. He then had me meet with one of WINGS’ Board Members Sue Wheeler, who happened to live in the same state I was living in. I got along very well with both Sue and Rodrigo, and soon enough, I was offered a brief internship in WINGS’ M&E Department.
My adventure at WINGS then started; I arrived in Guatemala on October 21st and on the very next day, I was off to Antigua to get trained in. I traveled to several different communities in Coban to interview youth who had somehow been involved in our Youth Program. No matter how many times I have been in rural Guatemala, the reality there always shocks me. I saw what is very common in this country; dirt floors, mud houses, several malnourished children, exhausted mothers, absent fathers, and extremely high level of poverty. I had always felt very frustrated knowing people live in such dire situations, and working at WINGS gave me the satisfaction of knowing that we’re a team of people who all want to improve these communities’ lives.
I came back to Antigua and after going through an application process, I was hired as the Development Assistant for WINGS. I remember how ecstatic I was; I had never wanted a job as much as I wanted this position. It lived up to its expectations; I had the most amazing experience working with hundreds of Guatemalan women and families who were willing to change their lifestyles and rid themselves of myths regarding contraceptive methods. I loved hearing women laugh and chat, little children running around, fearless young women taking control of their reproductive health, and bold men challenging the patriarchal norms of our society.
I also deeply enjoyed working with the staff members of WINGS. These people are brave; they talk about topics that many Guatemalans would refuse to discuss, and they courageously challenge the status quo of this country for the better. I won’t forget every single person’s effort here; our drivers and nurses sometimes left the office at 4:30 AM to carry out a mobile clinic in rural Guatemala, and even though they came back exhausted, they were up and ready for the next task the next day. Within the office, everybody’s passion was evident. Day in and day out, WINGS’ staff worked endlessly doing outreach to communities and youth, crunching numbers so that our budget worked out well, doing research on best practices, monitoring and evaluating our practices, fundraising, and so much more. I have so much respect for this team and the work we do. Again, I used to feel so frustrated about my country’s situation. But now, after working with WINGS, I know that my country’s future is in the best hands possible. On a personal level, this experience and the people around me have shaped my life and future in ways I had never imagined and for that, I will be eternally grateful.