AMIGA OF THE WEEK ~ Maritza

Where are you from originally? 

I am from San Jose, Lempira. 

How did you hear about Amigos de Jesus and why were you interested in working here?

I graduated from high school in 2007.  I was friends with someone who was one of Ubil’s teachers (Ubil is in charge of construction here at Amigos; he was the featured Amigo of the Week a few months ago).  Ubil offered a job to the person with the highest grade point average at the high school where my friend taught.  She did not want to leave Lempira and come to Santa Barbara for a job, but I was eager to being working, so my friend said that the job was mine if I wanted it. 

How long have you been at Amigos de Jesus?

I’ve been here since January of 2008.  From 2008 to 2009 I worked at the school helping in administration.  From 2009 until September of 2013 I was an assistant in the administrative office helping with accounting.  In September of 2013 I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in pedagogy and administration.  Since then I have been working as an accountant in the Amigos office.  I’m in charge of all the financial and administrative tasks here.

As accountant and office manager, what are some of your daily responsibilities?

Keeping the accounts up to date; deciding what supplies we need to buy for the week and what trips we have to take during the week; paying the providers who supply us with meat, eggs, beans, vegetables, milk products; making payments for public services like electricity; making sure the staff receives their checks and the volunteers their stipends; keeping the books for the school for the neighborhood children who attend. 

What are some of your daily challenges?

Learning English so that I can communicate better with Peg (the Finance Director at the Amigos de Jesus office in Philadelphia) and so that I can do my job better.  To accomplish all that I’m given to do with all the distractions and emergencies at the hogar—and the frequent lack of electricity!

You are currently taking classes to learn English.  What is the most difficult thing about learning this language?

That you don’t pronounce words like you write them.  You have to learn how to write words and also how to pronounce them because they are different. 

What do you like most about your job at Amigos de Jesus?

I like accounting, and I like to be able to do my job and also have the relationships with the kids.

Congratulations on recently completing your Master’s degree!  In what did you receive your degree, and how do you think it will help you in your work here?

I will graduate in September with a Master’s degree in Business Management with a Concentration in Finance.  I think it will help me to do my job in the best way possible because now I know that there exist many different ways to do the job well. 

Can you tell us about one of the kids that you are close to?

Francisco is the one who comes to look for me and who sees me as his mom, and so I can help him. 

Can you tell us a story about him?

When we went to visit my parents in Lempira, the electricity went out and he asked me, “Mami, why don’t we just turn on the generator?”  He didn’t understand that we weren’t at Amigos and couldn’t just turn on the gas-powered generator for a little bit because there wasn’t one!

What do you hope for the future of Amigos de Jesus?

I want to see everyone graduate from the university and that all of Amigos becomes bilingual.  I don’t want us to lose our Honduran identity, but there are many visitors from the States and we have a very strong connection to the States, so it would be nice if the communication was more fluid.  I also think it’s important for the children to learn English to have another skill that can help them in the future.