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Welding her way out of poverty

“I was told it was a career for boys not for girls … but now I’m an aircraft mechanic.”

I’m Gabriela and I’m 17 years old. I am currently studying for a technical high school degree in aviation mechanics. I never thought this could be possible – technical courses aren’t normally affordable for families like mine. And becoming an aircraft mechanic is known as a career for men instead of women.

An unexpected opportunity

I come from the municipality named 'Rosario de La Paz'. It’s quiet, breezy and peaceful, but sometimes it can be a bit dangerous too. Gangs are everywhere. It’s inevitable to have occasional incidents.

Gabriela and her gran in El Salvador

I was in ninth grade when I became a candidate for one of three aircraft mechanic scholarships. Many of my classmates applied, but in the end only two other boys and I got them. Initially even my own family discouraged me. My mum’s reaction was, “This is a job for boys, not for girls.” Yet, it’s been two years since I won this scholarship, and I am discovering so much about my future and myself.

My first day of class I told myself, “I’m loving this!” It was a whole new world. I learnt how to use the welding machine when other boys couldn’t. Now, every time we have to join some metal together, I’m the one who performs the welding.

So far I’ve learnt things I would have never thought that I could have learnt, proving that whatever a man can do, a woman can do it too.

The company that provides the scholarships invites us to the airport facilities annually. There they carry out maintenance to the aircrafts, and I find it fascinating. At the end of this three-year scholarship, they have promised to hire me as an aircraft mechanic.

My sponsor changed everything

Since the scholarship only includes the registration and monthly fees, I knew that I needed extra money for other expenses. Many of these expenses are paid for by the [Compassion] project and my sponsor, including my books.

In the Compassion project I attend near my home, I’ve also learnt many valuable things that I recall each day in my heart. The journey has been challenging, and I am happy that beside me are good people who God has brought into my life to provide unimaginable support.

Another great help has come from my sponsors. They have a wonderful marriage with two children and they lovingly support me from a distance. We exchange letters often, and I pray for them.

I remember the time when the father of the family wrote to me with sad news about a fire in their house. I was really sorry about what happened. Later, on my birthday, I recalled that they used to send me a gift for the occasion, but in my heart I knew they were having a difficult time and I prayed that they were doing better. To my surprise, I received a letter from them! And a gift too! In the letter they told me that they were rebuilding the side of the house where the fire happened and that they knew that my birthday was coming up and wouldn’t miss it. With the gift they sent, I bought flip-flops, a towel and notebooks! I really needed notebooks. I couldn’t believe that God blessed me that day with the things I needed the most at the right time.

Only a miracle could have gotten me this far, and it’s happening. Even though we have very few resources, my mum always tells me, “When we have nothing is when God provides the most.”

My mum is the only provider of our family. She works in a maquila and gets paid very little, so does my grandma, who also lives with us, raises chickens, ducks and turkeys to sell. My brother will be in high school next year; he is enrolled in the project too. Our tutors and project staff have helped us so much.

The gift of aspirations

If I had never been enrolled in the project, I don’t think I could have known God the way I do now, or even have aspirations. Girls who are 17 years old like me are usually already pregnant or quit school for many other reasons. I’m incredibly thankful and blessed for the support I have received throughout all these years to stay focused on what God wants for me.

Aircraft mechanic

I trust that God will continue equipping me for the future. My prayer is that He will provide for my studies, maybe for a Master’s degree and a PhD, because I’m ready to keep following Him where He leads me.

Today, you can empower a girl just like Gabriela through Compassion Child Sponsorship. Compassion-sponsored children are more likely to grow up to be employed, and leaders in their communities and churches.

Sponsor a girl today


WORDS : Nora Díaz

PHOTOS : Nora Díaz

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