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Born to an alcoholic mother and father, Nora Tun Bacajol’s early education was interrupted by her need to earn money to support herself and her three younger sisters. She went to work in a sweatshop, sewing at age 12. Four years later, through a scholarship program at the nonprofit Familias de Esperanza, Nora was able to complete her high school degree as a teacher by working during the week and going to school on the weekends.

Nora had a dream to establish an educational and early childhood development center for her indigenous community. Many of the children in her village were not successful when they entered first-grade. The families in her village live on USD $2 per day. Children have never held a pencil, never been read to, and have parents that lack the skills and resources to help their children excel. Nora and other Guatemalans are concerned that between 25-40% of the children of rural Guatemala either repeat or drop-out of first-grade. The lack of success in first-grade has contributed to the high illiteracy rate--the highest in Central America. Nora started Pequeños Pero Listos to help children successfully transition into primary school.

  • Great Nonprofits 2022