Breaking the chains of poverty through education

CFCA sponsored child Wendy in Guatemala

Wendy, 16, dreams of becoming a nurse someday in Guatemala. CFCA sponsorship has played a key role in enabling Wendy to go to school.

Many families living in poverty must face the difficult choice between keeping their children in school or taking them out early to work and help provide income for the household. Luis Cocon, CFCA communications liaison for Guatemala, visits one family who has put education first in their efforts to build a sustainable path out of poverty.

By Luis Cocón, CFCA communications liaison for Guatemala

Wendy and her three siblings live on $4.50 a day, which is what their father Elio makes as a day laborer.

They don’t take education for granted.

“In Guatemala, education is a precious gift,” Wendy said. “I want to go to college to be a nurse, have a good job, help my family and help others through my work.”

These dreams of higher education, however, stand in stark contrast with the family’s daily realities.

Wendy is only 16 but has assumed the role of being “mother” for her siblings, as her mother no longer lives with the family. Wendy also helps her father occasionally with field work to earn extra income.

“I take care of my siblings, cook, make tortillas, clean our home and do the laundry,” Wendy said.

Poverty is often the main reason that children in Guatemala either don’t go to school or leave before they have finished their education. They leave to help their family with basic needs such as food, clothing and housing.

“These children want to have an education, but they lack the opportunity,” said Migdalia Pata, Wendy’s social worker at CFCA.

Child labor is seen as a necessity because the child will bring some income to the struggling family. It is not uncommon to see children carrying a heavy load on their fragile backs, eating a meal with shoe polish residues on their hands and face, or selling candy under adverse weather conditions.

Poverty has forced these children to work. It has denied them access to education. And it has limited their opportunities to become productive adults.

Indigenous girls like Wendy face even more challenges. They often live in rural areas, making it difficult to have access to a school. Additionally, some Guatemalan families place a higher priority on girls preparing for marriage rather than continuing their education.

“Some parents are reluctant to send their girls to school because they believe it is not necessary,” Wendy said. “They have the idea that girls should prepare for marriage and a husband and develop skills to be a good mother and housewife.”

Sponsorship and education can help make a difference in these children’s lives. The CFCA Hope for a Family sponsorship program has played a key role in Wendy’s education.

“CFCA has provided the means for me to go to school,” Wendy said. “It is that simple.”

Sponsorship has helped Wendy with school uniforms, school supplies, books and encouragement to continue her education.

“Sponsors are providing the means for these children to stay in school and have dreams,” Migdalia said. “I am convinced that education is the key to break the chains of poverty.”

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One thought on “Breaking the chains of poverty through education

  1. Time after time, I realize that despite the diverse cultures across the globe, similar challenges are experienced. Thank God for the CFCA family that embraces girl child education, among others. An evaluation on Education Attainment was recently made at CFCA-Kampala Project comparing CFCA beneficiaries’ sustainability in school Vs that of non sponsored Ugandans; it showed that the sponsored children in the project have significantly higher educational attainment (4 year higher) than that of the Ugandan average. The data also points out facts that more girls stay longer in school during sponsorship contrary to when they are not sponsored. In all, the data highlights the impact of sponsorship in sustaining children more so the girl child in school, and signifies gender balance within CFCA. Keeping girls longer in schools not only reduces early marriages but produces quality mothers of the nation.
    Hooray Wendy, Hooray CFCA, World wide

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