08/31/2010 12:44 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Mercy Merilu: Moving from the Chicken Stand to the Classroom

I recently came across the following quote:

"All of us do not have equal talents, but all of us should have an equal opportunity to develop our talent."

-- John Fitzgerald Kennedy

President Kennedy's words stuck with me for a few days. Why? Because by leveling the educational playing field we -- Vittana, and our lenders -- are unlocking the talent and human potential in young people around world.

When we see results, they're even more inspiring than a quote from a famous president. Whenever we receive an update from one of our students, the staff here at Vittana get so excited -- we all stop working, read the update, smile, laugh... and feel re-energized for the rest of the day. As we get more and more of these from our updates initiative launched recently, we're sharing them with you.

What's amazing about these updates is how hard Vittana students are working to make the most out of the opportunities that you, the lender, have granted them and how that forever changes their lives.

Mercy, one of our Peruvian students, is one of our favorite examples.

At age 15, Mercy Marilu, known by friends as a bookworm, planned to attend college and dreamed one day of teaching as a professor. But, at age 18, she was forced to put her dream on hold for something far less glamorous -- selling roast chicken on a dusty street corner in Huaycan, a town on the eastern outskirts of Lima, Peru. Strapped for cash and struggling to support two other children, Mercy's parents could no longer financially support their daughter and expected her to immediately contribute to the family's income.

Because of the help of fourteen generous Vittana lenders, Mercy now has the opportunity to go back to school and complete her teaching degree in elementary education. In addition to her own studies, she now has a new dream. She has opened a savings account in her daughter's name, so one day she can also go to school as well. She's determined to make a permanent change for herself and for her daughter.

This is what Vittana is about: opportunity and inspiration. Every month, hundreds of Vittana lenders keep creating this cycle, delivering a helping hand up instead of a handout.

Today on Vittana, there are 10 students needing your help to become everything from accountants to customs agents to teachers.