At Motherland Travel, we align ourselves with organizations in the countries we travel to that do work we believe in. From orphanages in China to rural schools in Colombia, to helping street kids in Vietnam, these organizations are doing amazing work! In Guatemala Starfish is one of the organizations doing work we love!

Starfish Guatemala

The mission of Starfish is to unlock and maximize the potential of young women to lead transformational change.

Right now, Starfish believes the place where this change is most needed is Guatemala, which has the unfortunate distinction as home to this hemisphere’s worst gender equality gap.

In 2008 in Guatemala Starfish teamed up with a few energized local individuals and embarked on changing the lives of the indigenous girls in rural communities. They recognized that these girls were largely outside of the education system, illiterate and stuck in a cycle that positioned them as overlooked citizens in their own communities.

Research has shown that only 14% of rural indigenous girls in Guatemala complete 6th grade, that 3 out of every 5 indigenous Guatemalan women are illiterate and, that Mayan girls are at the bottom of every measurement of human development. Starfish aimed to change this and, in turn, help improve the lives of the entire Guatemalan population.

The Vision is of Starfish is one of empowerment, equality, and opportunity for all.

The team at Starfish believes deeply that their responsibility to the rural indigenous girls in Guatemala is embedded in the livelihood of the girls, their families, and their communities.

In order to unleash the potential of as many Girl Pioneers as possible, Starfish launched the Starfish Impact School (a free, all-girls secondary school that differs dramatically from any existing school in Guatemala) in January 2017. The desire to educate this population of girls stems from much research – and of course, the passion of the Starfish team.

“According to a recent report by the Malala Fund, 32 million girls are currently missing out on the first 3 years of secondary education, and millionsStarfish Guatemala more who start never graduate. The first target of UN Sustainable Development Goal #4 is to ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education. While enrollment in primary education in developing regions reached 91% in 2015, current trends suggest it will be another 95 years before there is parity in girls’ lower secondary education for the poorest 20%.

Young indigenous women in rural areas face the greatest education barriers, often due to a lack of physical access to education centers or an absence of curricula in their native languages. According to the 2013 Global Gender Gap Report, only 10% of indigenous girls who live in rural Guatemalan communities are enrolled in secondary school, and less than 1% continues on to university.

Further compounding this problem is the severely substandard Guatemalan educational system.

According to the Guatemalan Ministry of Education, only 10% of high school graduates meet international standards of literacy, and only 8.5% reach the standards of math comprehension. Schools in rural Guatemala lack both quality and quantity. These debilitating factors severely impede each young woman’s ability to realize her full potential as a productive employee, social changemaker, and leader. All that being said, designing and launching the Starfish Impact School was a complicated and difficult endeavor.” — Taken directly from the Starfish website at

We are proud to align ourselves with organizations like Starfish and believe strongly in their mission, vision and the impact they will have on the rural indigenous girls of Guatemala. If you’d like to learn more about the work Starfish is doing please let me know, or visit their website at

When you are ready to plan your child’s Heritage Journey to Guatemala and see the work Starfish is doing up close and personal, let us know. We’d be thrilled to help you create the trip of a lifetime to your child’s birth country.

All my best,


Bambi Wineland is the mother of two internationally adopted children, a traveler, a Certified Professional Coach and the Founder and CEO of Motherland Travel. Motherland Travel designs Heritage Journeys for families with internationally adopted children. To find out more about Motherland Travel visit


Pin It on Pinterest