Empowering children is one of our primary goals. Integral Heart Foundation is all about giving those who really strive to change and grow the right tools, environment and possibilities to shine. In this newsletter we have the story of Jacqueline, who now, at the age of thirteen, can take charge of a full class of her peers and teach them English.
Jacqueline began in our program two years ago and we only managed to get her a sponsor four months ago. She and her younger siblings never stopped attending our school classes as they have passion for learning. They also told us that they got great benefit from our tutoring sessions with our senior students and teachers-in-training, fondly known as the ‘Isas’.
Doña Graciela, Jacqueline´s mom, is a 36 year-old divorced woman. She works making and selling tortillas and washing other people´s clothes when possible. Her oldest son, Diego, who is 18 years-old works during the week in order to help the family financially and to pay his studies as a mechanic over the weekend. He works as a mason assistant and sometimes as a helper on trash trucks.
Jacqueline has two younger siblings, Yajaira, who is 11, and Leonel who is 9. Their passion for study comes from their mom. When she was abandoned by her husband, soon after Leonel the youngest one was born, she realized that her children didn´t have to go through what she did. She hersef was abused as a child and never was sent to school. Now, as a single mother, she didn´t know how to write or how to read so she registered herself in an education program for adults where she got her high-school level diploma. She did it because she wanted to help her children with their homework so they could study and have a better future.
The mother learned about our program through our social worker, Marisol, and asked her if she could send her kids to our school. We were happy to accommodate the. Our surprise came when Jacqueline, who at that time was only 11, began speaking to us in English fluently, something very unusual for kids at that age in Guatemala.
Only four months ago we found Jacqueline a sponsor and now the whole family is benefiting from the advantages of our sponsorship program that includes a monthly basket of groceries. But the best part is that Jacqueline is playing an active role in teaching English to her schoolmates when our senior students are not available for that class. She and her sister Yajaira have conversations in English between them and we think that she can be our future English teacher for the school.
Her motto is “nothing is impossible if you want it really badly” and she is living up to that. I am sure in the future you will hear more about her from us, but for now, kudos to Jacqueline and her strength.
Integral Heart Foundation couldn´t be more grateful to all of you who make these great dreams possible. We feel really fortunate of being the bridge between such powerful hearts. Thank you.
A huge hello from sunny Guatemala!!
Our school just passed ONE YEAR open! One Year Open! Thanks To YOU!!!
We are celebrating this momentus occasion with some happy photos of our students, ranging in ages from 4 to 23 years old, in this newsletter.
Our kitchen is busy preparing and serving over 1,600 meals and snacks every month and our sign-in book, which records and tracks all students, staff, volunteers and visitors every month totalled 756 for the month of March! Amazing amazing!! At La Academia,we are hosting the following programs for sponsored students and families:
- Critical-Thinking (CT) Programs for Teens - 3-year fulltime Teacher-Training Program - English Classes - Spanish Classes - Psychology Classes - Counseling for students and family members - Homework Study / Tutoring for Teens - Classes and playtime for our junior students and siblings - Daycare for a small group of most involved families - Programs for moms and dads - Home base for our social worker/family liaison - Special events and invited speakers - Food program serving almost 1,500 meals and snacks per month - and the resident street dogs, Chispa, Muneca, and puppy Tasha!
We would like to take this opportunity to sincerly thank you again for all your help in support our work.
Carmen´s story isn´t an easy one but it turning out to have a happy ending. She was discovered as a child, along with her sister, working at a local garbage dump. Her job and that of her sister consisted of collecting plastics and cardboard. Their ‘employer’ in return would pay their mother around two dollars per day for the work of each of her children.
A local non-profit whose work was based in human trafficking, found and rescued them. From that point began a long journey that finally is taking Carmen to brilliance.
This non-profit put the children in their schools and the family in a rented home. It was in one of those schools, where we used to volunteer, that we first met Carmen in January of 2010. From this point we never separated. We always has a special place for Carmen, and supported her and her sister and the family as we could, which also included a tremendous amount of psychological support over the years for Carmen.
Then in 2013, the NGO that was supporting Carmen had to close the doors to its trafficking unit and the family lost all those benefits. It was at this point that we fully took over and supported the financial situation of the family always making sure that the kids had a proper education and a montly food basket.
As I mentioned at the beginning, it wasn´t an easy ride but, as it is turning out, well worth it! There were many issues with the girls self esteem, often much resistance from the mother who wanted the kids to work instead of getting education, some health crisis, always financial problems and having to move from home to home. But, we were behind them all the time. They both have been attending our after-school programs and now are attending at La Academia. Today, and due to the generosity of many of our support during this journey, we can say very proudly, that Carmen is studying at college to be a nurse. Our dream is that we can eventually expand our own programs, to open a health clinic integrated into our school, and hire her as our Integral Heart Family nurse!!
At the Integral Heart Foundation we hope that this successful story brings a smile to your lips and tells you what an important role you are having in bringing a brighter future to our kids through your donations. Thank you very much.