Valeria Pacheco, a mentee, shares with us her inspiring story in which against all odds, she succeeds in her endeavours.

My name is Valeria Pacheco, I am twenty years old and four years ago, I promised NOT to let myself fall, no matter the situation I could be in. After I graduated from iSupérate! Hilasal and high school, things became harder and difficult for me. I could not study the first semester of my university because my parents had economic problems. Also, I could not get a job because I was seventeen and nobody wanted to hire me. On top of that, that same year I got a surgery. Those six months were tough but thank God in that process I got to know several nice people who supported me and have become important for me. After six months, my father got a better job, so I started university in the second semester and I decided to study languages, which is something that I love.

A person who guided me in defining my professional goals and helped me solve my doubts was my mentor, Marilu, with whom I had the opportunity to communicate for two years. She also helped me improve my English writing and speaking skills. I also got to practice my computer skills by working together with her to create a video about ourselves and our relationship. We were so happy when it was announced that we had won second place. One day I hope to be part of the Mentoring International Program and help someone as my mentor did it. (See video here!)

At iSupérate!, I learned about volunteer work and I decided to continue doing it because it has value in itself, but helping others also offers many benefits. It’s eye-opening to realize that doing even small things can have a big impact on others. Volunteering gives you an opportunity to change people’s lives, including your own. It gives you the satisfaction of playing a role in someone else’s life, helping people who may not be able to help themselves. Volunteering is a way of giving back to your community while developing important social skills and gaining valuable work experience all at the same time. I have had the opportunity to help my social environment in different ways with different organizations. I have been an educational guide in a museum, I have helped in an orphanage, I prepare food once a month and collect clothes for people who live on the streets and nowadays I am part of TECHO El Salvador -a Latin American and non-governmental organization in which we work for the idea of building a fairer El Salvador in order that the poorest families in the country can have a decent roof (house) than they currently have.

One year ago, I got sick again and the doctor told me to exercise which is why now I have started running. That became something that I really enjoy and since then, I have improved my time and distance too. I have had the opportunity to participate in different races and before the year ends, I would like to run a half marathon. What I have realized is that, for me, running is a metaphor for my life. We are alone when we run, yet people surround us most of the time. However, they cannot run the run for us. No matter how much support we have, we have to do it on our own. In addition, there is no perfect run, either, like there is no perfect life. They are never exactly perfect but some are as close as they can get. Some runs are epic, just like some days, and those are the ones we live for.

Life is a continual succession of opportunities for surviving, the good thing is that you can start over each morning and you cannot shine without darkness. Even though there have been difficult moments in my life, I promise NOT to let myself fall.