Student Spotlight – “Clarissa”
Children in Latin America who experience poverty run the risk of being deprived of many basic life staples. Necessities become something of commodities in these small, strapped communities, and many of these children don’t get to eat like they should, let alone have the capability to get an education. This problem becomes even more complex when you consider that less than half of the girls in the developing world ever reach secondary school.
This is only part of what makes Clarissa Franco Garcia such an amazing student. Clarissa is familiar with the idea of poverty, living in the Cantagallo slum in Peru, residing in a 195 square foot plank home built on an old landfill site. Children in these situations often don’t have the resources or hope to do better, but Clarissa at 18 joined the RCF program and began to flourish.
After joining in March, Clarissa quickly shone while attending class and proved herself to be one of the brightest pupils. With a knack for problem solving and her willingness to learn, Clarissa found that she had an aptitude and passion for technology. Most children in these slums and impoverished areas don’t get to experience much technology, but Clarissa quickly got the hand of working with advanced technology and amazed the staff with her ability to get the hang of tech operations so fast.
Through RCF, Clarissa learned the basics of computer science and howto operate a computer onmany levels. “Now I realize I can actually design and create websites,” Clarissa remarks about her newfound skills. Through RCF classes, Clarissa can use her skills to help better herself and receive more education, but the capability to build sites also gives her a voice:
“I want to create a blog or website where I can share with the world the stories my grandmother told me about our roots in the Jungle. I want people to know about us and use this technology to create awareness about the Cantagallo community. I want to help my family by promoting our small business of selling textiles and pottery.”
In almost all Latin American countries (minus Chile, Costa Rica and Uruguay), children who are impoverished live in families that don’t have enough money to feed themselves on a regular basis. The poverty found in Cantagallo follows this same pattern of malnutrition and is in line with the rest of Latin America in having the world’s highest levels of social inequality. By sharing her stories on a blog, Clarissa can reach more people than ever before and educate them on the status of the Cantagallo slums and other Latin America poverty communities.
Clarissa’s life has also been filled with challenges outside of the community poverty. A few weeks prior to attending the RCF Developer Days Camp, Clarissa became diagnosed with tuberculosis and severe anemia due to malnutrition. Clarissa proved herself a fighter, though, and with the help of RCF’s amazing staff, Clarissa attended the Skype via a hospital bed where she had to submit to bed rest.
Despite her struggles, Clarissa is a success story. She has now been hired by a local technology company and is a web developer, working with basic and advanced coding languages. She helps to support her family and may be what breaks her and her family’s cycle of poverty for the first time in generations. She also constantly works to expand her technology knowledge by attending seminars and receives education at the RCF Lab in Lima.
A recent achievement? Clarissa and other RCF graduates attended a Space App Challenge ceremony after receiving third place for their app “I’m the Astronaut” – an app that helps to promote STEM programs among children. It’s clear that Clarissa wants to share her love for technology with others, and perhaps they too can become a success story and changes their lives much like she has changed her own.
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