Thanks for making it possible

Lizeth, the Mapiripán’s young student who received a full scholarship from the Poligrow Foundation to continue higher education studies in Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources at the EARTH University in Costa Rica, is getting excellent academic results.

It was the first time I left Colombia. I was really excited.“ With these words, that convey all the excitement of a young but resolute girl, Lizeth Andrea Rivas Malambo remembers her mood when she arrived on the campus of EARTH University. This was less than two years ago, but since then Lizeth has shown several times her cleverness and skills, both academic and entrepreneurial.

Indeed, Lizeth and her te12910811_531608990357017_628032598_nam have been awarded this year’s edition of the Agro-Entrepreneurial Summit, a competition involving the business projects developed by second-year students during the academic year. Geesh Ecology, this is the name of Lizeth’s winning project, is about the production and sale of edible mushrooms. “The project has been a success since it minimizes the environmental impact by reusing waste”, Lizeth explains, adding that “it is also easy to replicate. We are using only 30 m2 and thus it can be easy implemented in neighbouring communities.”

21 years old, born in Mapiripán, Lizeth always lived with her maternal grandparents, who own some hectares of land they farm and where they keep a few head of cattle. Her passion for nature and environment comes from that background, she argues: “When I was a child I enjoyed going to my grandparents’ field to look after animals. The Meta region is a stockbreeding area, this is the reason why I love animals.

Lizeth had to leave home to follow her dream. Due to her excellent academic performances, she was admitted to the Agricultural and Livestock Technical High School of San Martín de los Llanos – 12 hours away from Mapiripán – where she obtained a diploma with a technical specialization in the farming and harvesting of oil palm. When she returned home, she won a scholarship to attend a specialization course for Agricultural Production Technicians in the city of Villavicencio at the National Learning Service (SENA).

It was in November 2014 that I found out I had been awarded a full scholarship to study there. In that moment I couldn’t do anything but cry from joy 

Reasonably, university was to be the next step of such an excellent academic career; however, Lizeth did not have the financial resources to access advanced education levels. This was a crucial moment for her future, since she was told by her mother that the Poligrow Foundation was awarding scholarships to study agriculture at the EARTH University of Costa Rica. “Five people more applied for the same grant. I remember I was a little nervous about the job in12887302_531616767022906_322756640_oterview but I was confident they would offer me that opportunity. It was in November 2014 that I found out I had been awarded a full scholarship to study there. In that moment I couldn’t do anything but cry from joy.

Now Lizeth is living the dream but nonetheless she does not forget her origin. She wants to come back to Mapiripán: “Thanks to the scholarship, I will have the chance of becoming a professional and coming back to my country to share the knowledge I am acquiring so to foster the development of local producers. My stay at the EARTH University is an opportunity to meet other cultures and it is changing the way I think. I want to express my thanks to the Poligrow Foundation and I make a plea to continue supporting young people. This is the best experience of my life. Thanks for making it possible.

See the Geesh Ecology project presentation and the award ceremony.