Alfred is a sponsored youth from Bhagalpur, India, who is the first person from his village to attend college. Alfred is also a CFCA scholarship student, which helps cover other costs related to his education. Alfred sat down with Sreekanth, our communications liaison in India, to tell us about the academic and social challenges heís experienced as a college freshman.
Are you a first-generation college student? If so, how were you given this opportunity to attend college? Why did you decide to attend?
My father studied up to the ninth grade. He understands the value of education and encouraged me to study. Even though my college is very far away, he tried every opportunity to pay the fees and enroll me in school.
I am the first person to attend college from my village.
The hotel management and catering technology degree is a three-year diploma, and it is very expensive.
Though it is expensive, I preferred it because of CFCA’s sponsorship and scholarship support. I paid part of my college fees with CFCA’s help through sponsorship support and my CFCA scholarship. I was able to take out a bank loan for the remaining costs. Read more
Update: We just learned from this BBC news article that Kenyan schools have reopened following a three-week strike.
Recently in Kenya, teachers and other government employees have been on strike.
The strikes began with a teachers strike, but have recently grown to include several government employee groups including doctors, college lecturers and hospital workers.
Regina Mburu, CFCA communications liaison in Africa, reported that many sponsored children have been affected by the strike.
It’s never too late to learn!
That’s one lesson that mothers of sponsored children taught Diego Felipe Coj Guarchaj, a CFCA staff member in Guatemala who has worked with CFCA for 13 years.
It began in 2007, when CFCA staffers started a literacy program in the town of Nahuala for mothers who wanted to learn how to read and write.
CFCA scholars taught the mothers as part of their community service project.
In 2008 more mothers wanted to learn, so the CFCA office in Nahuala contacted Guatemala’s national committee for literacy, a government-run institution that helps people finish their primary education.
In 2011 more than 75 mothers graduated from primary school with that literacy program.
Several of these mothers expressed a desire to continue their education, so the CFCA office encouraged them to apply for CFCA scholarships.
In 2012, Diego said 23 mothers and two fathers are now CFCA scholars. Classes include natural science, social studies, math, computers and writing.
“Twenty-three of the students are in seventh grade, one is in eighth grade, and one mother is in her first year of high school,” Diego said.
(Related link: Read more about the value of education for sponsored children in Guatemala.)
In a country where only 15.6 percent of the female population is educated to at least a secondary level of schooling (think junior high), according to the Human Development Index, the mothers’ achievements show their perseverance despite tremendous challenges. Read more
Last week we blogged about Rachel in Kenya, who received a school uniform through money saved from sponsorship benefits.
Providing children with the required uniform, books and supplies does not guarantee they will learn. The quality of the school has a significant impact on the child’s education.
Manjula lives in the Rasulpura slum in Hyderabad, India, with her two children. Her 12-year-old daughter, Aarthi, is sponsored through CFCA’s Hope for a Family program. Manjula earns about $60 a month as a maid.
She has switched Aarthi to a different school twice because of overcrowded classrooms. One class of Aarthi’s had 60 schoolchildren.
“It became very difficult for the children to follow the class,” Manjula said. “There was no personal attention towards the children.”
Manjula uses Aarthi’s sponsorship funds to help pay the higher school fees at Aarthi’s current school.
“It is a better school in our locality,” Manjula said. “Each class is in a separate room. Benches are there. Teachers are also good.”
Like CFCA projects in Kenya, the Hyderabad project deposits sponsorship funds into a child account. Parents decide how to use the funds with oversight from their CFCA social worker.
CFCA sponsorship can impact other siblings in the family, too. Because Aarthi is sponsored, Manjula belongs to a CFCA mothers group. She borrowed money from her group’s collective savings program to send her son to school.
Because education is so effective in helping families build a path out of poverty, the Hope for a Family program places a high priority on the education benefit.
Children and youth who are of school age are eligible for CFCA sponsorship as long as they are in school.
Parents in the CFCA program accept this requirement and work hard to keep their children in school. They are committed to helping their children reach their educational goals.
“Many parents of sponsored children didn’t have the opportunity to complete their own education,” said Dan Pearson, CFCA director of international programs. “They want their kids to have more choices and better opportunities that come with a more complete education.”
However, the greatest barrier to education for families in the CFCA program is the cost. That includes direct costs, such as tuition, books and supplies.
It also includes the hidden cost of lost family income when a teenager continues in school instead of working full time.
The families CFCA serves live on very narrow margins. Costs such as bus fare or uniforms can have a very large impact on their lives.
“Sponsorship widens those margins and gives families a little more breathing space, which allows them to keep their kids in school longer,” Pearson said.
During the next few weeks, we’ll present several examples of how sponsorship empowers families to support their children’s education. Today we take a closer look at Kenya. Read more
Now is a great time to help youth reflect on the need to take proper leave of those who have enriched their lives as they move on to the next chapter in their lives.
Larry Livingston, CFCA director of church relations, has created a simple exercise to help young people recognize and more deeply appreciate the important relationships in their lives.
This exercise can be used to complement a classroom lesson or parish youth gathering, or be part of an end-of-the-year group retreat.
Earlier this month we featured Diego, a sponsored child who walked 80 minutes to school in Colombia ñ and that was just one way!
Our CFCA colleagues in Bogota ñ Harrison Garcia Ruiz, our communications liaison, and Judith Bautista, project coordinator ñ worked on getting a bicycle for Diego so he wouldn’t have to walk such a great distance.
Harrison was there as Diego went with his mother to pick out a new bike. These pictures, along with quotes from Diego, tell the whole story beautifully.
In Diego’s words
Having a bicycle to me was a very difficult dream to reach. My family does not have the resources to buy a bicycle for me.
One day CFCA staff members came to my house to interview me and to ask me about my life and how I get my education.
I told them about the long distance that I have to walk to get to school.
My mother told me later that CFCA staffers called her, and she told me that the CFCA office wanted to buy a bike to me so I could have a better situation in life.
I could not believe it at first, but I thank God for having that visit from CFCA’s staff and to be able to tell them my story, and in this way I could go to choose my bike with my mother. Read more and see the pictures
The school year for Central American countries starts in January or February, and parents have been shopping the last few weeks for school supplies.
For families living in poverty, however, school supplies can cost more than the families are able to afford. Usually the cost ranges between $50 to $60.
Families in the CFCA sponsorship program sometimes earn as little as $100 a month or less. That means buying school supplies would consume around half of their monthly income.
Here are two CFCA sponsored children in El Salvador, who obtained school supplies this year through sponsorship benefits.
Mauricio (interview with his grandmother, Antonia)
Mauricio lives with his mother, his two sisters and grandmother. His mother works as a security guard and is paid $180 a month. His grandmother sells vegetables and fruit and makes approximately $60 per month.
What does it means to your household budget for CFCA to provide these school supplies? Read more
Now imagine going to school with a badly worn, patched-over uniform because your parents couldn’t afford a new one for you.
Gladness, a sponsored youth from Tanzania, faced this situation every day. But no longer, thanks to some help from a CFCA social worker, her mother’s diligent budgeting and a tailor’s magic touch.