Life growing up in Ayacucho, Peru in the 50’s for Rosio Godomar was not different from the other villagers in her isolated Andean region. Large families, a reliance on farming, and no reliable year-round roads meant an upbringing that lacked modern amenities and money for necessities. Nonetheless, Rosio holds many cherished memories from her childhood; as a seven year old taking long journeys holding tightly to her dad on horseback or by foot across the mountains to neighbouring communities where her father would sell his products. In the evening they would return over slippery mountain tracks, buses and cars being still very rare in the high Andes.
The rural culture is rich and family ties run deep in Peru. The family moved to Lima, the dry sprawling port city capital of Peru when Rosio was only eight. It was there that her academic ability showed promise. With few family resources available, her older brother helped support an ongoing high-school education for her and her sisters in the city. As a recent arrival in Lima, he understood the challenges facing young Peruvian women without an education. At the end of high school, Rosio won a scholarship to study at Lima’s Social Security School of Nutrition.
Feeling responsibility to her brother and respect for the rare opportunity he had given her, Rosio worked extremely hard at her studies. She knew that if she had remained in her village, she would, like other young women, be working at domestic duties and tending the fields. It would take just one more external act of generosity to fully form the principles that would guide Rosio throughout her lifetime.
Rosio’s high college grades and diligent focus caught the attention of GTZ, an international agency aiming to increase the living standards of Peruvians, especially through working with young women. After her graduating year and some years of working experiences in Peru, at 28 years-old, Rosio earned a scholarship from GTZ to further her nutrition studies in Germany. The final generous act which would permanently influence Rosio’s future actions would be taken by the German government. Impressed with Rosio’s academic success, the German government provided yet another scholarship to allow her to complete a Master’s degree in Human Nutrition at the University of Rio in Brazil.
It had been during her travels in Germany and Brazil, knowing no one, and as the first member of her family to leave Peru, that Rosio learned to work and interact with people from around the world. Struck by the enormous deficiencies in the world, Rosio applied for and was chosen to work as a United Nations Volunteer; over a period of five years, she worked for the UN’s World Food Programme, contributing to community-based initiatives, and humanitarian relief in Equatorial Guinea in West Africa. Her volunteerism lead her eventually to a professional career mostly in the World Food Programme; for more than 20 years, she worked with the United Nations in humanitarian and emergency programs. Countries in Africa, the Middle East and South Asia benefitted from her dedicated and meticulous work.
“In all those countries I realized the common need was for young women to receive an education,” she says. “A girl with an education provides support to her whole family and her community”.
In addition to working in the countries of Equatorial Guinea, Angola, Sudan, Ethiopia, Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan, Rosio worked for a period of 5 years in Liberia. There she travelled to different counties visiting schools and talking with teachers and community leaders. She observed the tremendous challenges blocking girls from attending elementary and secondary school, and from higher education: these challenges included working to assist needy families, early pregnancy, not having access to training programs and also a lack of financial resources to pursue education. Illiteracy is a major handicap for these young women, and the backbreaking work in the fields as well as domestic chores and the struggle to feed their families leaves them with little time to benefit from such opportunities.
As a keen amateur photographer, Rosio has developed and printed greeting cards; the cards are sold and all the funds are used to support the Educate Girls Network.
Rosio Godomar has continued her career in Canada, working in hospital food services; she enjoys volunteering as a mentor with MOSAIC in Vancouver in addition to her work with for Educate Girls Network.