Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Sad Family Update

I knew Yulliana's Family/Child Report was due any day, so I have been dilligently checking before bed each night to see if it was posted. Last night, it appeared. She's grown two inches and gained seven pounds. Her favorite subject changed from Languages to Mathematics (which matches what she wrote to me in one of her letters). The family seems to have moved--their house used to be concrete walls and floor with a wooden roof. Now, they have corrugated metal walls and roofing with a concrete block floor. Fortunately, they still have running water, electricity and a toilet.

I suspect the reason behind the change in their home is that her father Edgar, who had previously been listed as a Driver, is now Deceased.

I think his passing must be very recent. Her last letter, which was written just before Valentine's Day, included a drawing at the bottom with a man, a woman, and four girls. She labeled the drawing "My Family."

Yulliana is the third of my girls over the years to lose her father. The previous two, Joan and Hazel, each left the program within a year of their fathers' passing.

Yulliana's mother Argentina is now left to support four very young daughters (Yulli is the oldest at 8. Her sisters are 7, 5 and 3) on her own. She's a street vendor. Interestingly, the family's monthly income didn't change, holding steady at $190.

I'm sending an immediate SNG to help the family out, and I intend to inquire about her father's passing and whether there are any other adults residing in the household to help Argentina either with additional income or taking care of the young girls. I hope the poor woman has some help!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Spotlight Child of the Week: Special Edition!

Those of you who have been following my blog know that my Spotlight Children tend to follow a pattern. Usually, they are girls. Usually, they are either a member of an indigenous group or they are from the Philippines. Today's post ... is different.

This somber young man is a very special six-year-old boy named Micky. Micky's family of five lives in Guatemala. They are so desperately poor that they do not even have their own home. Instead, they share one small room in a larger house made of scrap metal. Their few, meager possessions (including Micky's four outfits and single pair of shoes) are stored in this small, insecure place. 

Sponsorship would mean a world of difference for Micky and his family. Micky would receive clothes and school supplies, along with regular medical and dental care. Beyond these tangible benefits, your support and encouragement would let Micky and his family know that they aren't quite so alone in the world. The knowledge that someone cares has the power to bring this bright smile to his face. Won't you be the cause of that smile?

To Sponsor Micky, call 1-800-607-2080.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Spotlight Child of the Week, 3/15/2013

This is eight-year-old Sofia Elizabeth. She lives with her parents and four siblings in Guatemala. Their family of seven struggles to survive on a meager $260 per month. Their home is constructed of concrete and wood with a corrugated metal roof. They are fortunate to have regulated access to electricity, but they must obtain their water from a neighbor's faucet. Sofia does attend school. In her free time, she enjoys playing with dolls, cars and other toys. She is talented in singing, and also in reciting poetry. Sofia and her family face unique challenges and discrimination because they are Mayan. However, they have not given up their unique culture--Sofia wears the traditional Mayan outfit, and she speaks Cakchiquel in addition to Spanish.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Mixed Feelings

Today I received the response to the inquiry I sent about Yojana's education and post-high school plans. The report says:

In the first quarter (of ninth grade, last school year), she failed two subjects ... however, she made a commitment to herself to study hard to improve her grades, fortunately, she finished ninth grade with success. Yojana wants to continue studying, she would like to become a Nurse to help sick people. Her family looked for a school in which she can be able to study this career but they found out that she has to wait until she turns eighteen (she just turned seventeen). Since she is not interested in another career, she decideded to look for a job to save money to pay her career.

Yojana's parents are happy to realize that their daughter wants to become a professional. They want to support her but right now five of her siblings are studying so the expenses are many.

In the long run she won't be able to attend university because this is a non-formal education (!?!?!), she will get a degree that will allow her to work as a nurse in a hospital or in a sanatorium.

The career (program) is only one year from January to December. She will begin in 2014. Yojana and her family are thankful with the sponsor for the interest in helping her with her education and for the support they have received.

We encourage the sponsor to ask for related costs regarding the first year of Nursing Career in August 2013.

Well! That's a lot to digest. I am glad that she knows what she wants and, until she is eighteen, she is committed to working towards realizing her dreams on her own. It's frustrating that she has to wait a year--I will have to be sure to encourage her to stick with her dream. I know once people stop schooling for any length of time, it becomes harder and harder to go back to it, and I don't want her to fall into that trap.
It's interesting that she only has to study for one year to become a nurse, and that it's non-formal education. So different from here in the States!

I actually felt a small sense of relief when I opened the report and didn't see a list of expenses--after paying for Anna Marie's first semester, I was worried about how I would afford Yojana's higher education as well. Now I have the opportunity to save up a bit (though I have no real idea what the target amount is!).

I am not surprised that Yojana's parents are struggling with education expenses--she has SEVEN siblings! The two youngest are still too young for school, though it will only be another year or two. I had already planned to sponsor one of her younger sisters when she graduates the program.

So! I've got August marked in my calendar, and in the meantime I think I'll send an SNG to help the whole family!

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Paying for College

 My eldest Sponsored youth, Anna Marie, will graduate from high school in March! This is an exciting milestone in her life, and I am so proud of her for overcoming the obstacles life has thrown at her.

Knowing that her graduation was fast-approaching, I sent an inquiry to Children International to find out what her higher education plans, hopes and dreams are and what I can do to help.

The report came back, and said the following:

Anna Marie was delighted when she learned that the sponsor is concerned about her future plans regarding studies. Currently, she's in fourth year high school/grade ten level in public school quite close to home and will be graduating in March 2013. Currently no fund is needed from the sponsor since she will be graduating next month from high school.

She would like to take Bachelor of Science in Tourism in college. She also wants to become a Flight Attendant someday. It is a four-year course with eight semesters. Below is breakdown of expenses and schedule of payment.

Tuition: $325
School Uniform: $50
School Tours: $125
P.E. Uniform: $12.50
Books: $63
Meals and Transportation: $250
Total: $825.50 per semester

My first thought was, "Dang! I need to go to the Philippines to finish college!" Compared to U.S. tuition, that's downright cheap. However, it's far more than I can afford to pay every six months on my own, especially with Yojana also graduating high school this year.

The payment for the first semester is due to the college by May first, so I sent that one off in its entirety myself. The payment for her second semester is due October first, so I've set up a FirstGiving Fundraiser to hopefully raise the amount (or at least a significant portion of it). I will find out if she will have to pay for "School Tours" again and if she needs new uniforms every semester, but for now I've set the target amount of the fundraiser to $900 to allow for some fluctuation in prices and to cover the FirstGiving fees.

This particular fundraiser has already got a strong boost, because it is converted over from the fundraiser that I had partially complete for Hazel's family when she suddenly left the program. It's already more than a quarter way to the goal!

If you'd like to contribute to my fundraiser but would prefer to send money directly to me or directly to Children International, please don't hesitate to contact me and I'll be happy to share the how-to details with you!

Spotlight Child of the Week, 3/7/2013

My apologies, dear friends, for my extended absence. My family is going through a difficult time as we prepare for the passing of my uncle, and that has kept me otherwise occupied of late. I'll try to return to my regular schedule ASAP!

This sweet angel is four-year-old Sandy Amelia. She lives in Guatemala with her parents and one sibling. The family of four is struggling to survive on only $104 per month. Their home is adobe with dirt floors. They are fortunate to have running water, but although electricity is available in their community, they cannot afford to have it in their home. Sandy enjoys running and playing with dolls. She speaks Spanish in addition to her native Cakchiquel.