The students we work with face a lot of challenges in their lives. If things were going well, their home life was good, and their family was unbroken, their parents had work, lived in a safer environment, or went to a better school, what we do wouldn't be needed.
A disproportionate amount of our students lives in single-parent homes where the father is not present. A number of them have parents who are illiterate or dropped out of school at a young age.
Many face challenging employment situations and struggle to provide for their children.
Regardless of the reason, it is common to see vulnerable families overwhelmed by seemingly manageable situations that can derail their lives.
All because there is no one around who has the time, energy, or ability to show the student that they care.
This is why the work we do in Cadanino is so essential.
We hire teachers, not just to instruct the students, but to build relationships with them. We insist that all of our students attend school. The educational programs we offer are designed to foster a love of learning and encourage them to finish school.
But unlike the public schools that so many of our students attend, where a teacher can be overwhelmed trying to manage 50+ students, we keep our class sizes small and manageable, which gives the teacher the time they need to get to know students personally.
Our educational reinforcement classes work to develop the students' core understanding of reading, writing, and arithmetic. Our teachers try to identify struggling students who need that little bit of extra time, attention, and encouragement to keep them persevering instead of quitting when things get hard.
In our Bible classes, first and foremost, we work to help students to understand who they are as a child of God, what it means for God to be their heavenly father, and that they are loved unconditionally.
We build upon that day after day and week after week, laying the foundation of their faith slowly but solidly, and always…always being faithful to let them know that God loves and cares for them, and so do we.
But our work with the students doesn't end within the four walls of our center.
Given the dysfunction in the lives of the families we serve, the care and concern we work to show our students extends to getting involved in their lives.
When a student starts struggling in school, fails to show up for a class, or is pushed into the workforce at a young age, we step in. Our teachers take the time to seek them out, understand what is happening, and encourage them to pursue their education and develop their abilities is a worthwhile investment in their lives.
This year Wilson Raymundo, one of our older students, graduated from high school. Eduardo, the coordinator who runs the Santa Fe center where he studies, wrote up his story.
Wilson began his journey with us in January 2016 when we were starting our afterschool programs in the community. His story is not an easy one, and he has had many difficulties along the way.
When he first came to us, he struggled in school and did not know anything about computers. He dreamed of finishing high school, but his parents found it hard to pay the school fees and school supplies. As a result, he failed his junior year and his parents and older siblings were very disappointed in him. They said that it wasn't worth it for him to continue studying they weren't going to pay for his education and he would have to start working for his food.
When he explained the situation he was in and the discouragement he felt at what he saw as the end of his dreams, I knew that I had to do something.
I invited his parents to come to the center and asked them to reconsider. I told them that I knew Wilson was capable of studying, but he needed a little more help in high school. I promised his parents that if they let him stay in school and give him time to come to our center to study, I would work with him to ensure that he stays on top of his school work.
Wilson apologized to his parents for failing and said that he would do better if they would give him another chance. Reluctantly, his parents agreed to let him repeat the year he failed, but said that if it happened again, it was over, and he would have to go to work.
The next few years were not easy for Wilson, due to limited capacity in the high schools around where he lived, he had to travel an hour and a half to get to school every day, then he would attend our classes in the afternoons so we could ensure that he completed his homework.
With time he learned how to learn for himself and needed less help. The tutoring he received and the computer training he learned in our center enabled him to develop the skills he needed to succeed in school. We were so happy when he graduated from high school last year with a specialized degree in computer science.
Both he and his parents expressed their gratitude for our willingness to walk alongside him all these years and Wilson thanked us for the personal relationship he has developed with God.
He is entering the workforce ready to succeed and plans to continue developing his computer skills on the weekends. We have provided him with several computer training courses and invited him to come into the center when he has time.
I have been blessed to have been there when he needed it.
What a difference one caring adult can make in the life a child.
Each and every day in Cadanino, our teachers impact the lives of 200 students, and by extension, their families, they pour into the children and minister to their patents, speaking works of life, hope and faith. They let them know they are loved and cared for, that they have value, and are capable of accomplishing amazing things if they don't give up. They listen to the challenges they face, point them to God and encourage them to keep moving forward. And that is what makes the difference.
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