"Education is the most powerful weapon with which you can change the world."
- Nelson Mandela
It is the norm rather than the exception for children to leave school after the 3rd grade. The boys are expected to work in the fields and the girls work in the homes cooking and tending to the other children. The sad reality is that the official literacy rate is highly inflated. Our scholarship program allows the poorest and brightest to continue their education.
IMPORTANT CONCEPT: The health of children in poor cultures is directly related to the educational level of the mother. Educating the mothers helps break the vicious spiral of poverty and poor health.
We invite you to read about our recent scholarship recipients and how Shoulder to Shoulder’s efforts have impacted their lives:
Noemi is a unique scholarship recipient in that she completed 6th grade at the elementary school in La Guaruma 9 years ago but was not able to keep studying due to lack of funds. Now that she has been awarded a scholarship she is motivated to continue her studies. She lives with her mother, brother and an aunt as her father left them when she was 4 years old. Although the assistance will not totally pay for all of her expenses, she is willing to spend her free time making small handicrafts to sell in order to make up the difference. She says she will do whatever it takes to complete her education so that she can secure a job that will help her family. She is very mature and motivated. She attends church at the Santidad Monte Sion and is very involved in the activities there. Noemi is grateful for this opportunity to make a dream come true.
Elida is a soft-spoken but direct eighteen-year-old who, despite her humble manner, radiates a strong sense of confidence and poise. She lives with her mother, grandmother, and twelve siblings whose ages range from 27 years to 2 months old. She has never met her father, and the family depends on the agricultural day labor of two of her brothers and the nanny job of one of her sisters. Elida is the only member of her family to have continued school past the sixth grade; she received scholarship support from Shoulder to Shoulder for three years and in 2005 graduated from the local secondary school with high grades and a persistent desire to pursue further education. Ideally, she would like to enroll in a 3-year program in social promotion in a town about 40 minutes away by car. A career in social promotion, she says, would allow her to get a steady and rewarding job in a reasonable amount of time, and it would be work she could do in her home community. She views the social service requirement of the scholarship positively, citing both the opportunity to serve her community and the practical work experience as benefits of the program. In order to continue her studies, however, she will need to find outside support, as her family cannot afford to pay for neither her school costs nor her room and board. Elida displayed exceptional maturity as she expressed her gratitude for the opportunity that she has had to study, explaining that being so poor, a chance like this one is truly a dream come true. She hopes that once she improves her situation, she might be able to help others in a similar way. “I’ll never forget what it is like to be poor and need help,” she says, “so I hope someday I’ll be able to help someone else like me.”
With a soft and unassuming smile, Alicia will tell you that her goal, ultimately, is to break the cycle of poverty that her family has known for so long. She wants to pursue a high school diploma in commerce so that she can get a good job, bring money home, and improve her family’s standard of living. At 17 years old, she lives with her parents, grandmother, and six brothers and sisters; she is fourth in line among the siblings. Her father is employed at a small shop in a nearby town, where he sells bed frames, and her older brothers work the family’s land and sometimes hire out for daytime construction work in order to bring home extra money. None of the other children continued their studies past sixth grade; Alicia was the first to attend middle school, which she was able to do with the funding she received from Shoulder to Shoulder donors. The commerce degree that she is pursuing in La Esperanza, a town about a 4-hour drive away, will allow her to return to work close to home. Looking further ahead, one position she expresses interest in is that of the middle school’s administrator. As she helped American doctors on a 2007 brigade check in patients at a field clinic, Alicia expressed enthusiasm about collaborating with Shoulder to Shoulder to find a social service project – either working with the clinic itself or in a school – that would benefit the community as well as her professional development. She will graduate at the end of the 2008 school year.
Education: With the success of our nutrition program and our Yo Puedo Project, children are staying in school longer and many have developed a desire to continue their education. With this remarkable success comes a new challenge. Many children in our remote villages cannot afford to attend secondary school without assistance from Shoulder to Shoulder. Donations to our scholarship program give YOU the opportunity to sponsor the education of one child for one or more years and develop a relationship with him or her over time.
Secondary Education: For just $400 a year YOU can cover the cost of school fees, uniforms, books and supplies for one child to attend school for a year. Shoulder to Shoulder’s scholarship program selects the neediest children with the most motivation, capacity and desire to succeed. We make sure that half of the recipients of the scholarships are girls. Shoulder to Shoulder gives you updates that allow you to track your sponsored child’s progress and communicate with him or her if you desire. Secondary school in Honduras (‘colegio’) is equivalent to our grades 7-9.
Post Secondary Education: YOU can enable a motivated poor child to pursue a professional degree such as teaching, social work or nursing, or even to get a university title. Because of Shoulder to Shoulder’s work in education, our communities now have students ready to attend training schools and universities in increasing numbers, something that was virtually non-existent a few years ago! YOUR donation of $1200 – 1500 would allow a young adult to pursue professional training. This is a great way to make a permanent change in one person’s life and it also benefits all the lives that she or he touches!