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Jul 5, 2019

Oliver and Misael's Progress: Pursuing the Right t

With academic support, Misael and Oliver can thriv
With academic support, Misael and Oliver can thriv

Everyone should have the right to study, but unfortunately, many do not have the same opportunities to do so. 

Oliver and Misael are the nephews of Cojolya’s embroiderer Andrea Reanda, and they are also students who participate in our program— Mano a Mano para el Desarrollo (Hand in Hand for Development). Only 14 months apart, they are almost twin brothers who study at the same school and are in the same class. They’re happy to be continuing in the Mano a Mano program because for them it is a source of support that helps them break barriers that would otherwise hinder them in their academic careers. 

They come from a family of 4 sons and one very smart mother who primarily works as an embroiderer and also does some beadwork. As their father suffers from addiction, he has not been a reliable figure in their lives, and Juanita, their mother, runs their household. Through her embroidery and beading, she supports her family as much as she can, but she does not earn enough to send them to school; they only just get buy on food and daily necessities. Because of this financial pressure, Misael and Oliver, the eldest brothers, help sustain their family through doing beadwork after school. In low income families in our community, the biggest responsibilities fall on the shoulders of the eldest siblings who help their parents in contributing to sustaining the family. 

In spite of their family’s conditions, they are motivated to excel and genuinely like going to school. Before, they were very close to leaving school because they did not have the necessary resources to do their work well, and they wouldn’t turn in their homework. It was a sacrifice to keep them in school with so many barriers to perform well and only one parent contributing to their futures. At Mano a Mano, they have school supplies and computer access in order to conduct school research assignments. They are now giving it their best in school, especially because they want to take advantage of the resources now available to them as their parents did not have the opportunity to study. 

Their teacher had a lot to say about their progress in the past year, “Before, they would never bring in their homework, and it wasn’t because they didn’t want to. They clearly did not have the financial resources to buy materials. It was very hard to work with them because they couldn’t come in to do activities with their classmates. Thanks to the Mano a Mano program, they always have the necessary supplies and tutoring support that we ask of them. They always turn in creative work, they come to school everyday, and I am so proud of them for their progress.”

Misael and Oliver have almost reached high school, and they hope to finish this academic chapter successfully. They both dream to help their youngest brothers, now that their 6 year old brother Mateo just began school, and the youngest, Elías will begin in a couple of years. 

 

The eldest 2 brothers work to help their family
The eldest 2 brothers work to help their family
The brothers come to our office for English class
The brothers come to our office for English class
Oliver's work ethic has made him more efficient
Oliver's work ethic has made him more efficient
Misael's teacher noted his improved behavior
Misael's teacher noted his improved behavior
Oliver reads at a Mano a Mano's literacy workshop
Oliver reads at a Mano a Mano's literacy workshop

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Jun 11, 2019

Human Values in and out of the Classroom

Students worked on team building games
Students worked on team building games

Our students are open to making positive changes in their lives, and we want to open a space for them to reflect on their values and their treatment of others. Last week, we held a workshop about honesty, equality, gratitude, respect, and social and environmental responsibility.

We talked about how the best way to practice respect is by not discriminating against others for how they look or their physical condition, nor for the way they think, because we should all have the right to express our ideas.

Many students also mentioned the importance of respecting grandparents, parents, siblings, teachers, fellow students, and elders. For example, Pedro mentioned, “We should respect our parents because they worry about us. In fact, we should respect everything that surrounds us, like the environment.” Oliver also emphasized the importance of staying eco-friendly, “To respect and protect our environment, we need to throw out our garbage responsibly and take good care of our water.”

Beyond environmental responsibility, students had a lot to say about how to be responsible as young people in order to grow and be a better person. Manuel mentioned, “One of my most important responsibilities is finishing my homework and helping my parents and siblings.”

Students also spoke about how to support equality in the home, at school, and wherever they meet up with their friends and peers. In terms of interpersonal life, we discussed how honesty is so important for establishing trust and healthy relationships. We played a game where each student had to pass through a loop of thread, no matter their size, to reflect the importance of equality and working as a team.

Afterwards, each student wrote about the values you they were developing and how to apply them in daily life. Yulissa wrote about valuing positive acts and human rights, noting, “It’s important that everyone has the right to food. We should all have the right to have an education and achieve what is important to each of us.” We are hopeful that our students recognize education as a root of positive growth and look forward to having more discussions about the significance of personal values in and outside the classroom.

Lidia, our youngest student, had a great time
Lidia, our youngest student, had a great time
Chonita lead a discussion on respect and honesty
Chonita lead a discussion on respect and honesty
Teamwork across ages helped us reflect on equality
Teamwork across ages helped us reflect on equality
We spoke a lot about taking care of our planet
We spoke a lot about taking care of our planet

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May 9, 2019

Our Breakfast Club for Middle and High Schoolers

After reading at home, students read together
After reading at home, students read together

Our middle and high school students participated in a new initiative called “Reading Club” this month, in which we try to make reading exciting and relevant to our older students as there is a wide range of reading level and age in our program.

Loúrdes, José Miguel and Yulissa read a chapter of His Last Trip and came in with comments to discuss the book over breakfast with our program coordinator and teacher, Chonita. The story was a modern day fable about addiction and generational class in which a rebellious young man stops studying and playing sports once he begins experimenting with drugs and ends up stealing from his father, who kicks him out of the house. While living on the street, he falls deeper into drug addiction yet comes to miss and appreciate all his parents had given him.

Given the drama and morals of this story, our students had plenty of reactions. Some of the lessons they took away were:

-It’s important to have a trusting relationship with your parents, and you want to respect them so that they can trust you

-Lying and robbing will only worsen your life

-Trying to be a good son or daughter is a significant lesson to learn for young people and will help us in the long run

-It helped us remember to appreciate what our parents do for us

 

Beyond the comments each student brought in to Reading Club, they also had the opportunity to read their favorite parts of the story alongside their friends, for a better understanding and more fluid reading. Furthermore, as we live in a conservative, indigenous area, confronting the prevalent yet hidden and shamed problem of addiction in our community through fictional novels like His Last Trip is a healthy way to process and prevent alcohol and drug abuse.

As most people where we live don’t make a habit of reading, it’s very important that our students pick up the practice and learn to love books and expand their knowledge. Ensuring that reading is compelling for young people can not only make a difference for our students but also can combat high levels of illiteracy in our community.

In order to keep up with reading, we need a variety of books as books are too expensive for parents here. As a result, a lot of the work we do is share necessary materials with our students so that they develop better study habits and a love of reading.

We are thankful to our donors for supporting us in providing books. What are some of your favorites, and what are some of your recommendations?

Our students discussed over breakfast
Our students discussed over breakfast
"His Last Trip" was a dramatic read for teens
"His Last Trip" was a dramatic read for teens

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