Updated: Jul 25
Andrea is 16 years old and studying 9th grade at a public school. While both she and her mother are grateful for the opportunity to enroll in Cadañino after-school programs, there have been challenges along the way.
When she entered our program in 2018, she didn’t know anything about the Bible and hadn’t used a computer.
Regardless, she enjoyed both and was a good student while in class.
But we soon found out that things at home were another matter.
One of the requirements for being in our programs is that students have to turn in their school grades to track their performance. In Andreas’ case, it became apparent that her school homework was simply not being done.
It turns out that while she behaves wonderfully in class with us, like many teenagers, she is somewhat obstinate and defiant at home.
Doña Marleny, her mother, had tried everything from punishments to encouragements. Nothing seemed to work, and she was at her wit’s end and at risk of failing the 2019 school year.
In Guatemala, amongst impoverished families, it is challenging for many parents to provide an education for their children.
Even if the public school is free, they still have to buy books, uniforms, school supplies, and often the mothers are required to be on a rotational schedule to cook lunch for the students.
Many low-income families struggle just to survive. Often the parents haven’t graduated from high school themselves. So continuing to send your child to school when they are ungrateful for the opportunity and have to repeat a year is frequently cause for pulling students out of school and sending them to work.
Thankfully, Cadañino is there to help. When Doña Marleny asked if we could help our teachers met with Andrea and assisted with developing a plan to get her back on track.
One of the foundational components of our ministry is that we hire local teachers who live in the community and leverage their relationships with the parents and schools where our students attend.
Eduardo, our coordinator, contacted the teachers at Andreas school, asking them to give her a chance to repeat the material she had failed and catch up on her homework.
Based mainly on his word and reputation, the school agreed to give her one more chance.
Thankfully, Andrea realized the opportunity she had been given and applied herself, putting in the extra time necessary to catch up.
It was a slow process and wasn’t easy, but she stuck with it and got her grades up enough to pass the school year in 2020.
The 2021 school year was another challenging one for her. Covid-19 restrictions in Guatemala have kept schools closed, students are expected to study from home, attend online classes when available, and their teachers are supposed to provide them with assistance.
Unfortunately, the reality is that students are given little help or assistance, and Andrea ended up in a tough spot again.
Despite being enrolled in our after-school programs, 2021 was very difficult for her. Her teachers at school didn’t seem to care about the success of their students. She struggled to get the schoolwork she was supposed to receive. There was poor guidance, and they gave her no grace when things got difficult in her life, and she wasn’t able to turn in her work by the, often very short, deadlines.
While I wish I were ending this story with the joyful report of how well she is going in every way, it’s simply not the case…yet!
The reality is that she hit another bump in the road and it has massive potential to disrupt her education. If she were any other student from a similar background in Guatemala, she would probably already be pulled out of school and looking for work.
This is a country where people average just 5.2 years in school. Only 42% of students continue to middle school, 24% enroll in high school, and only 5.4% continue to university.
By making it to 9th grade, Andrea has already shown that she is part of the minority that can go all the way, and we are here to help her go the distance.
Her mother has seen the change of heart in her daughter, seen her desire to learn, seen that our teachers care about her, and has committed to allowing Andrea to continue working toward finishing high school.
Andrea is reenrolled in public school and our programs for 2022. She has a positive attitude, is helping out at the center, serving lunch to the other students, and is doing her best to put everything into the tasks before her.
Her younger brother, Cesar, is now enrolled with us as well and making great progress as well.
Doña Marleny has been incredibly grateful for the Cadañino ministry’s impact on Andrea’s life. Her husband left the country several years ago to attempt to make more money and provide a better life for their children. But things have not worked out as planned. She is basically a single mother raising her two children and one of her nieces, all alone.
She has told us many times that were it not for the help and support we provide, she could not do it.
This is not the beginning of a story or the end of a story, but it is an important part of Andrea’s story. It is the part that we, Cadañino, and you, our partners, get to play in giving this young girl the help, support, and encouragement she needs to keep moving forward.
While our Community Impact Centers serve over 200 students and families, we continually strive to ensure that all the students in our programs receive the personalized care, attention, love, and support they need to get through the challenges they face.
Cadañino means “each child” or every child” in Spanish. We want every child to know that they matter to us that they matter to God.
Andrea is just one of many students in our program. Some stay for a year, some for longer. Their time with us is neither the beginning nor the end of their story. But it is the part of their story that God has given us to play a role in, and we consider ourselves blessed to have that opportunity.
We pray that you will keep Andrea in your prayers as she moves forward.
Thank you to every one of you who helps to make the Cadañino ministry possible. We could not do it without your support.