Marina – a Volunteer Against All the Odds

Marina and Emanuel, one of her pupils
Marina and Emanuel, one of her pupils


Life has thrown its lot at Marina Garcia Hortado, one of our dedicated volunteers from Chilamatillo, Tipitapa. Despite all the odds, Marina has always taken it upon herself to improve the lives not just of her children, but of her entire community, providing support such as education on birth control and workshops for women so they can start their own businesses. Not to mention that she’s a fantastic cook!

Her volunteer life began in 1985, when she taught at the local preschool in her community. There was no funding for paid teachers, but Marina understood the importance of free education for all from as young an age as possible and immediately offered her services. However, diseases such as malaria meant many children could not attend school, and in larger families children had to spend their time pitching in to put food on the table. Marina attended courses on malaria and diarrhea so she could share her knowledge back in Chilamatillo, and started working with ‘Profamilia’ who provide programs and services on family planning.

When Marina’s husband Jose lost his sight and could no longer work as a mechanic, Marina took a job at the local primary school to support the upbringing and education of her four children. But this did not impede her volunteer work, and her experiences as a teacher gave her the skills to teach adults how to read and to give private classes to children with special learning disabilities. And since improving the lives of the women in her community was her main priority, she continued to share her family planning knowledge, riding around the community on her bike to distribute contraceptive pills to as many women as she could.

Through working with Rosa, our community leader in Tipitapa, Marina is now assisting our microfinance program, and learnt many skills so she could assist the women along the way – cooking, sewing, handicrafts, even beauty classes! She is our main cook when we head down to Tipitapa on a delegation, and even does a hot plate of ‘gallo pinto’ (beans and rice) better than anyone else. When asked of her dreams for the future, Marina replied “To always have the opportunity to help the people in my community. And perhaps one day to be able to thank the donors of Dos Pueblos in person!”