The three girls in these photos inspired the program I founded in Rocky Point, Mexico six years ago. They came into my life in 2012 when I began volunteering at a children’s shelter in town. When I met them, they were only 10 and 11 years old and I knew nothing of their history – I only saw three sweet, beautiful young girls full of so much potential. As I got to know them better and they began to share their stories, I learned that they had each faced more adversity in their short lives than I had faced in my 50+ years on this earth. Yet somehow, they had each held onto hope for a better life.
During those early years, we talked a lot about their goals for the future. Each of them shared with me their dreams of being able to graduate from high school and go on to college – something they never imagined would be possible due to lack of family resources. Over the years, as I grew to love these girls so much, I also listened to them. In doing so, I learned many things that helped shape the program that I would start four years later. Here is what I heard:
WHAT WE DON’T NEED:
Sympathy and pity from others.
People who think they can ‘save’ us or are responsible for changing our futures.
WHAT WE NEED:
Hope for a better future.
People to see our potential and believe in us.
People willing to commit to investing in our education so we can change our own futures.
Inspired by their spirit, resilience, and incredible potential, in 2016 I took a leap of faith and launched this program.
The most valuable thing I learned from these girls, and so many other young people during my three years at the shelter, was the importance of commitment. These kids did not need adults to come into their lives, provide a little support and then move on. They needed adults who would be physically and emotionally present for them on a consistent basis. They needed adults who would take the time get to get to know them and understand their needs. They needed adults to consistently invest in the resources they need to not just survive but to thrive.
So, I knew that for this program to be successful long-term, we would need to make a big commitment. That first year my husband and I and a small group of others committed to investing in 72 local students. Fortunately, along the way many others have joined us, and we are now providing ongoing, consistent resources and support for almost 800 students. I am grateful to each and every donor who has joined us in committing to these young people. Together you make it possible for my amazing local team to show up for these kids’ day after day, week after week, and now year after year.
Today, 9 years after I met them, all three girls are students in our program. I could not be prouder of each of them. One is a senior in high school, one is a freshman in college, and one is a sophomore in college. They are all honor students, and they are also all strong, compassionate, and capable young women. I believe they can, and will, change the world.
You can support our efforts to provide young people in this community with the opportunity to transform their futures by making a tax-deductible donation at www.espranca.org/mexico
It has been such a gift for my family to watch those three young girls
grow to be amazing young women.