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Taking Flight in the Mountains of Guatemala

During a morning hike to the Maya Jaguar schools on our recent trip to Guatemala, my daughter spotted a gorgeous butterfly with vibrant purple and yellow wings. As we scrambled along the rocky jungle trail trying to get a better glimpse, we noticed that the color vanished completely when the butterfly landed and closed its wings. The underside of the wings appeared with an intricate grey and white pattern of lines and circles mimicking the lichen growing on damp fallen logs. As a result, the butterfly virtually disappeared when its wings weren’t being used to fly.

As we continued our walk up to the school, I was reminded of the yoga class I taught the girls the previous afternoon. The “Butterfly” or “Mariposa” pose was one of the few I could easily translate into Spanish. Each afternoon, my niece, my daughter and I met with the female students, who ranged in age from 14-22. We taught yoga, shared the Days for Girls program, where we distributed the kits, and held a workshop on education and career goals. The girls at Maya Jaguar eagerly soaked up whatever knowledge or experience we had to share. They are among the most engaged students I have ever encountered.

Each day as we approached the schools, we could hear the laughter and chatter of the students. I was struck with gratitude for the opportunity of catching a glimpse of those female students learning to spread their wings and fly. Like the butterfly on a piece of lichen, the girls at the school are easy to miss. They come from extremely remote villages tucked away in the jungle camouflaged by poverty, lack of access to resources and a cultural history of fear and isolation. At Maya Jaguar, they find a secure and safe place to study where they are able to spread their wings and grace the world with the vibrancy of their lives, through their ambitions and dreams for their futures. What a gift it was to witness them taking flight.

Lindsay Miller lives in Draper, UT, where she writes, teaches yoga, and tries to keep up with her nine-year-old and her labradoodle. This is her family’s second trip to Maya Jaguar. She and her husband, Ritchie, have served as volunteers for Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala since 2015.

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