In March of 2019 I had the privilege of spending time with a hero of mine, Dr. Terarai Trent. This amazing woman escaped a life of poverty and abuse in Zimbabwe and went on to earn multiple degrees. She has since used her firm belief that education is the pathway out of poverty to help thousands of young people in her country access education.
During our visit Dr. Trent wanted to know about my program in Rocky Point. I am incredibly passionate about this work and when I talk about the kids we support, I tend to become very emotional. After listening to me Dr. Trent asked me: “What broke your heart?”
I told her I didn’t understand the question. She said that, in her experience, when a person is so passionate about and committed to something it means their heart has been broken. She explained that, like many others, her early years of living in violence and poverty broke her heart and inspired the work she is now doing. She asked me again what broke my heart and led me to this work in Mexico.
I was at a loss. Since I was born into a loving family and have never suffered through severe hardship, I told her I didn’t think that my work in Mexico was inspired by heartbreak. She responded, “for the past seven years you have devoted your life to improving the lives of children living in a country that is not your own. You just cried while sharing with me the stories of some of children and families your program supports. Clearly your heart has been broken.”
She went on to explain that she believes that to develop great passion and commitment for something, your heart does not have to break for yourself. Your heart can break for others.
In that moment I realized that I did start this program because my heart had been broken.
It began to break when, during 25+ years vacationing in Rocky Point, I saw so many kids and families living with little or no hope for a better future.
It broke further in 2012 when I started volunteering every week at a children’s shelter in Rocky Point and met young people who had already faced incredible hardship in their short lives.
It continued to break in 2015 as I prepared to launch a program to give more kids in the community access to education. I spent weeks listening to hard working parents share how a lack of resources left them having to choose between meeting their children’s basic needs and sending them to school. Many of these parents cried as they shared with me how badly they wanted their children to be able to get an education so they could have a better life.
Today, only 5 ½ years after launching this program, we are supporting more than 800 students. My amazing local team operates seven homework clubs throughout the community that provide hundreds of students with the daily academic support and resources they need to succeed in the classroom. We have helped dozens of our students go on to college and a few now have their college degrees.
My heart is full thinking about so many amazing, resilient young people having access to educational opportunities they need to transform their lives. Yet, my heart continues to break knowing that there are so many more waiting for our support.
The good news is that your heart doesn’t have to break to help us give young people in Rocky Point hope for a better life through education. You can simply make a tax-deductible one-time gift or recurring donation to support our program at www.Esperanca.org/mexico.
The Director of our program in Rocky Point and I with Dr. Trent
Hugs like this from one of our young students help to heal