For the past nine years I have devoted much of my life to improving the lives of kids in this community. The program I started in 2016 to help provide local youth with a path out of poverty through education has grown from employing a local team of two professionals supporting 72 students to a team of 26 professionals supporting more than 800 students. We currently have more than 40 students attending college and we also now have students beginning to graduate from college.
Quite honestly, leading a non-profit organization in another country has been the most challenging experience of my life and, at 60 years old, I have never worked harder. I am frequently asked why I continue to invest so much of my time, energy, and resources to providing access to education for kids who are not even from my country. My typical answer is that I am committed to this work because I believe that where a child starts in life should not determine where they finish. I also believe that the best tool we can give a young person to change their outcome in life is access quality educational opportunities.
This is all true. But my real why is in the individual stories of the amazing, resilient young people and their families I have had the privilege of getting to know and support over the past six years. Here is the story of one of the very first children we accepted in this program in 2016. His story motivates me every day and reminds me why I continue to do this work.
Jose Alberto’s Story: For the first 5 years of his life, Jose spent his days with his grandmother and mother selling gum and washing windshields on a street corner. When I was first starting this program in 2016, I asked his grandmother if Jose would be attending kindergarten. She responded by telling me that he would never be able to attend school because he ‘did not exist’. Since he was standing right beside us, I was very confused. His grandmother went on to explain that he did not have a birth certificate and so, on paper, he did not exist and therefore could never register for school. In that moment I had no idea how, but I made a decision that we would find a way to help this family get his birth certificate so that he could go to school.
At that time my local team consisted of one full and one part time employee who, fortunately are as passionate about and committed to this work as I am. They immediately began working with a local attorney and one month later, after a trip to Hermosillo and an investment of about $100, Jose had his birth certificate. That fall he began attending kindergarten and for the past six years my local team has been there to provide him with the ongoing resources and support he has needed to continue in school. Today Jose is a bright and charming 5th grader. Thinking about this young boy full of so much potential not having the chance to attend school because his family did not have the resources to obtain a birth certificate breaks my heart. It also motivates me every day to continue to do what I do.
Unfortunately, there are so many other young people like Jose Alberto out there whose families lack the resources to provide them with access to education.
You can make one-time or recurring donation to support a student like Jose at www.esperanca,org/mexico
Jose’s graduation from kindergarten Jose as a happy 5th grader joining some friends and I for lunch las tmonth