Melisa holding her scholarship letter

Melisa -- a member of the Yánesha people, one of Peru’s indigenous communities -- was ready to drop out of school when she reached the ninth grade, Among other things, the arduous six-hour commute to the nearest high school was making it nearly impossible for her to get her education. "The coffee rust fungus destroyed the entire coffee crop my dad had cultivated," Melisa said. "He remained in debt, sick and unable to recover. With tears 

in his eyes, he asked us to return to the community. He did not want anything bad to happen to me and my brother in the city. I lost hope that I’d be able to study this year. I did not know what would become of my life." That changed thanks to the DOL-funded Semilla project, a partnership with the Peruvian Ministry of Labor, which allowed Melisa to finish high school by accessing a tutoring program. "No more money spent on tickets and no more long walks of many hours," she said. "It was close to my community and my family." Last year, she won a prestigious scholarship from the national government and is on a full ride to college to study sustainable tourism. Her goal is to bring greater economic development to her village.