Every year on the small island of Isabela, 750 miles off the coast of Ecuador, a queen is chosen. The queen represents Isabela and is a symbol of the island’s future. Nine years ago that queen was a fifteen-year-old girl named Glenda Jalca. The island has seen many queens since Jalca, but again she finds herself back stage on March 14th, in a gold dress with matching heels, program in hand. This year Jalca was not there to compete. She was there to coach.
Three girls competed for the title: Estefania Flor and Lidia Tomalar, both 21, and Victoria Jalca, 18, Glenda’s sister. These girls were hand picked by the municipal government, as were all the others. They are the “good girls” of an island with less than 3,000 people, not having succumbed to the pressures of other girls their age. Many young girls from Isabela don’t have a clear view of their futures. Girls as young as 15 fall in love, get pregnant, and become mothers. When high school ends, so do most of their educations, with very few continuing onto universities on the mainland of Ecuador.
Glenda Jalca has seen the girls on Isabela grow up and wants them to expand their horizons. She cares about these girls, as she does her own two young children. She wants them to make something of themselves, enjoy what the world has to offer and then give back to the place that has made them who they are. “They need to get out of the island, study, get the best of the continent and then come back and apply it,” Glenda Jalca said.
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