• Cynthia Matthews

A Brighter Future in Indiantown

At ECMHSP, we are proud to serve families who speak indigenous Mexican and Central American languages as their home language.  These languages represent a large mix, including Mixteco Alto, Mixteco Bajo, Zapateco, Canjobal, Mam, Otomi, Nahuatl, Acateco, and Triqui.  I recently interviewed Maria, whose daughter attends our ECMHSP Indiantown Center.  Please keep reading to learn more about her story.

Could you tell me about your family and culture?

I’m from Concepción Huista, Huehuetenango, Guatemala.  My hometown is eight hours from the capital of Guatemala.  I speak the Acateco dialect.  I came to the United States in October of 2017.  I couldn’t stay back home because of personal problems.  I’m 26 and work at a nursery in Indiantown, Florida.  My daughter goes to school in the mornings, so that helps me a lot.  Fernanda started attending the ECMHSP Indiantown Center at the end of 2017, so this is her third season.  She’s going to turn four in March.  In Guatemala, I started working in the fields at the age of eight.  My siblings and I were little when we started helping my mom.  We harvested corn, avocados, and potatoes.  I would go in and out of school.  There were many days that I chose working in the fields over going to school.  I needed to contribute to my family.  The school system was very different back then.  You would go to class and just learn the alphabet and numbers.  There wasn’t a curriculum in place.  I stopped going to school around age 15 and didn’t graduate.  

Left to right: Maria and her mom.


How did you find out about ECMHSP?

My mom knew about the services available to agricultural workers because my brother went to the ECMHSP Indiantown Center during four years.  My mom has worked with tomatoes, cucumbers, and pumpkins during the last six years.  She now works with me at the nursery.  Cecilia Marcos, ECMHSP Family Services Worker, was my first contact at the center.  She helped me with the enrollment process.  She speaks Acateco and made it easier.  I’m more fluent in Acateco than Spanish.  Luckily, I do find people in Indiantown with whom I can speak Acateco.

Fernanda enjoys attending the ECMHSP Indiantown Center.


How has your daughter benefited from ECMHSP since attending the Head Start center?

Before attending the center, she didn’t talk much.  Now she speaks English.  I speak to her in my dialect, so sometimes she gets confused.  She knows how to count and brings home different things to show me what she’s learned.  She arrives home happy and tells me about her day.  Fernanda really enjoys being outdoors with the other kids.  She loves coloring and always shows me her artwork.

Can you share a challenge that you’ve had to overcome?

I’m a single mother, so there are ups and downs.  My mom has helped me a lot.

Maria recently participated in the ECMHSP Indiantown Center monthly parent meeting.


What are your plans for the future?

I want to work as much as I can.  I have problems in Guatemala, so I can’t go back.  I would like to save up to buy a house here.  I want Fernanda to get an education and not have her work in the fields.  I always go to the monthly parent meetings at the center.  I know it’s important.

#Florida #IndigenousLanguages #Guatemala #MigrantFarmworkers #HeadStartParents #HeadStartWorks #ECMHSP #HeadStart #SeasonalFarmworkers #HeadStartServices #AgriculturalWorkers #Indiantown #FarmworkerFamilies #IndiantownCenter

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East Coast Migrant Head Start Project

2301 Sugar Bush Road, Suite 400, Raleigh, North Carolina  27612

Telephone: (800) 655-6831     Email: information@ecmhsp.org

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