For children living in poverty, education is the key to a better future. In many developing countries, however, the schools available to children make it difficult to learn. Some classrooms don’t have enough desks or school supplies for every student. In some communities, there’s not even a school for children to attend.
In Kenya, elementary school is free to attend. Unfortunately, parents are still responsible for books and uniforms, which can be expensive for a struggling family. School infrastructure in Kenya is extremely poor; in many cases, classes are taught in makeshift shacks. Often, there’s no furniture, so children must sit on the floor. This poor learning environment makes it difficult for children to focus on their lessons.
Selva’s son Braulio has been sponsored through our CMAVIL site in Paraguay for 10 years. Sponsorship has been an immense blessing, but when Selva’s husband lost his job, the family’s financial situation became dire. Selva, eager to support her family, had the idea to start a small laundry business!
Laundry work is not regarded as a respectable job in her community, and Selva’s husband tried to persuade her to do something else. Selva, however, was determined she would be able to make her business idea work. When her daughter was let go from her job due to downsizing, the family put the severance pay towards their first industrial washing machine. They named their new small business “J&M Laundry”, after Joseph and Mary from the bible.
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.
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.
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!
Women from our Fatima site in Bolivia had the unique opportunity to strengthen their independence. Over 75 mothers of sponsored children were invited to participate in a two month cooking course organized by our site. This course, however, didn’t just cover household recipes; it featured popular recipes for Bolivian street food.
Street food is quite popular in Bolivia, and is a fast and easy way to make an income. Proper food safety, good recipes, and basic business knowledge are all required for success. With the experience gained from our site’s cooking course, women would be well prepared to run their own small businesses selling delicious food!
Our Mercy Care site is located in the Mwingi region of Kenya. This area is dry and arid, and usually receives very little rain. Last spring, however, unusually heavy rainfall drenched the region. The soft, dry soil was heavily eroded, devastating farms and roads. Many homes and structures were extensively damaged, as they were not built to withstand rainstorms.
With families and children left vulnerable, we scrambled to provide makeshift shelters. Other families in the community generously offered to share their small homes with displaced families. One of the most affected families was a family of five left homeless, as their entire house collapsed.
Madeline is used to living a busy life. She’s the mother and sole caretaker of Phalancia, Phalanda, Fedelin, Phadelin, and baby Phedjina. The family lives together in Terrier-Rouge, a community near our Haiti North site.
One of Madeline’s children, Phalancia, is sponsored with Chalice. Sponsorship helps Madeline provide better care for her children, but the family still lacks many necessities. For many years, they lived in an inadequate home made of clay, and Madeline constantly worried that it would collapse.