Education is one of the most effective methods to raise a child out of the grasp of poverty. According to the United Nations report, EDUCATION COUNTS Towards the Millennium Development Goals, each year of schooling increases income potential by around ten percent, and education empowers people with the knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to shape a better future.
Children can’t get an education by themselves. Children need support from both their families and communities to thrive. With the help of those around them, adolescents can be provided the resources, encouragement, and support needed to break any barriers they encounter. The community in our Sabongari sub-site in Cameroon recently rallied together to advocate for the continued education of their children.
In November 2016, teachers’ and lawyers’ trade unions initiated a strike action over professional policies and poor working conditions. English separatists in this mostly French speaking country seized this opportunity to further their cause for outright independence of the English speaking regions of Cameroon, resulting in serious ongoing outbreaks of violence.
For these past three years, most schools in the English speaking northwest and southwest regions of Cameroon have remained closed and children remain at home.
Laurette faced poverty and hardship from a very early age. Both of her parents were peasant farmers in Western Kenya, and struggled to meet the basic needs of Laurette and her younger brother. They would often go days without a proper meal, and had to borrow food from relatives. The family couldn’t afford to purchase shoes or clothing, so the children went barefoot and wore makeshift clothing made from rugs.
At just eight years old, Laurette’s mom passed away from pneumonia. Laurette had to step up and help raise her younger brother, who was just five years old. She would accompany her father to work on farms, and do many of the household chores.
Four years later, when Laurette was 12, her dad suddenly passed away, too. Orphaned, Laurette and her brother were shuffled between family members. It was an incredibly difficult time for both children.
Our PENNT site is located near the city of Cochabamba, Bolivia. In this area of Bolivia, it’s common for children as young as eight to have to drop out of school to work to support their families. Sponsorship in Bolivia helps alleviate the financial burden on these families, allowing children to stay in school and focus on their future. In addition to sponsorship, our PENNT site helps children overcome barriers to education through an active after school-support program.
PENNT’s school support program places special attention on children from poor backgrounds who are struggling to stay in school and keep their grades up. Children who attend the program receive tutoring and homework help from qualified teachers. The program also gives children a safe space to go after school while their parents are still working.
Twin brothers Valentyn and Mykhaylo live in a small, rural village near our Ternopil site in Ukraine. Natalya, their mom, suffers from multiple sclerosis. She’s unable to work, and must receive regular treatments for her illness. Her husband, Andriy, commutes 40 kms to work daily, while Natalya stays home and cares for the family.
“I do all the jobs around the house myself,” says Natalya. “My mother, Maria, also lives with us, and she has a severe form of diabetes and also requires care. I am not afraid of work, and when i’m feeling well, I’m not worried. But I often feel weakness in my arms and legs, get headaches, and get tired easily.” she says.
When Amadeo was just 11 years old, his family was forced to flee their home country due to conflict and war. The family, uprooted from their life, traveled and started anew in Champerico, Guatemala, located near our Luis Amigo site. Amadeo’s father sought work in agriculture, while his mother stayed at home to look after Amadeo and his seven siblings. Even with Amadeo’s father working full-time, the family grew up in extreme poverty, and struggled to afford basic necessities and school costs.
Amadeo was chosen by a Chalice sponsor when he was 14, and the support made a world of difference for his education. Sponsorship covered school fees and supplies, and allowed his parents to provide him and his siblings with better care.
At many of our sites around the world, we work in tandem with Catholic Sisters to offer support and love to those in need. In Kumbo, Cameroon, we are blessed to work with the Sisters of St. Therese of the Child Jesus. The Sisters oversee our sponsorship program for children and elders in Kumbo and surrounding rural communities. In addition to sponsorship, the Sisters provide adult skills training for women, HIV/AIDS testing, and workshops on computer skills and responsible management of family farms.
The Sisters also run the St. Therese College and Women Empowerment Center. The college provides excellent educational and professional opportunities to young Cameroonians, with a special emphasis on the less privileged. This central hub for education is essential for many local young adults looking to continue their studies after high school.
For many years, the college lacked a proper dormitories for girls. Our Chalice supporters gave girls in Cameroon a great gift when they funded renovations for the dormitories!
Oleksandr grew up small village in Ukraine with his mom and younger brother. When Oleksandr was eight years old, he was diagnosed with scoliosis, a deformation of the spine. Instead of forming a straight line, his spine was slowly taking on an “S” shape. Over the years, his mother tried many nonsurgical treatments for Oleksandr, hoping to alleviate his pain.
By age 14, his condition worsened significantly. His spinal curve was visible, and he felt a sharp pain in his back while sitting and standing. One of his rib cages became higher than the other, which caused breathing and heart problems. Surgery was the only solution to these complicated issues.
Thanja, a sponsored child from our Imphal site in India, just scored in the top 0.1% on his national high school graduation exams, placing 23rd out of 37,138 students.
A shy village boy, Thanja grew up lacking basic necessities. Before he was sponsored, he had no hope of pursuing education, and limited his dreams. With sponsorship, Thanja was able to attend school, receive proper care, and start planning for his future.
With Mother’s Day quickly approaching, we’d like to recognize all of the incredible and hard working mothers around the world. Despite poverty and obstacles, we see the love of mothers shine through and persevere in every site in which we work.
In Paraguay, especially in poorer areas, many children are raised in single parent families, with mothers usually taking the role as primary caregiver. Nadia, from our CMAVIL site in Paraguay, was raised by her mother, Bernarda. When Nadia was very young, she had constant issues with her ears, and required expensive surgeries. Her mother was determined to help Nadia, and declared: “I will get those surgeries if I have to pick up every can in the city to pay for it!”