Back to school. For children all over the States, the last few weeks have been ones of new beginnings: new classmates, new teachers, new schedules and new curriculum. While the kids tend to be beyond excited, sometimes, as a parent, I’ve found myself having moments of discontentment, muttering questions to myself like, “Why is this supply list so long?” or “Why is the bus late again?” Some parents have to grapple with even more difficult questions, such as, “How do I work with my child’s teacher when we don’t see eye to eye?” or “How do I help my child make sense of homework assignments I don’t understand myself?” While the challenges we face today in our schools are real and should be thoughtfully addressed, I continually remind myself of how fortunate my daughter is to live in a place where education is both valued and accessible.
At VisionTrust programs around the world, our Local Heroes strive to provide an environment in which the children they serve can develop holistically. One of our major tiers of development is education, and I am continually humbled by the incredible challenges that children in the developing world have to overcome to learn even the basics. For example, at the Cruz Blanca Learning Center in Guatemala, here are just a few of the barriers to education that our staff have had to face over the years:
- Parents who refuse to enroll their children in public school
- Public school teachers who won’t allow children into class because they don’t have the required school supplies
- Children who struggle to pass first grade because the end of year exam is too difficult for them
- Young girls who don’t get to go to school because their parents send their male siblings instead
- Children who drop out of school to work at an early age to provide for their families
- Children who miss classes because they are too ill to attend
- Children who can’t get a secondary education because there is no high school in the community
- Children who can’t attend public school because they have special needs and there are no services to support them
Yet, despite all these obstacles, the staff at the Cruz Blanca Learning Center are helping the children they serve progress academically. Just a few weeks back, I met a mom named Angelica whose daughter Dulce attends the Learning Center. As we chatted, Angelica proudly shared that her daughter was already reading and that she was performing above grade level at school. Her face just lit up as she shared about Dulce’s success in school. Her gratitude for the Learning Center’s support of her daughter’s education was crystal clear. And the Learning Center’s support would not be possible without our stateside churches, child sponsors, and short term mission team members whose partnerships help make the ministry of VisionTrust possible.
On behalf of the amazing men and women who tutor and teach children in VisionTrust programs around the world, we want to express our heartfelt gratitude for those who invest their time, energy, and resources into helping children in need have access to education. From the child who generously raids his piggy bank to buy a box of crayons to the faithful church partner that provides program funding to support teaching staff salaries, each of you plays an important and unique role in helping the children we serve together grow up to live for God and love others. Together, we’re breaking down barriers to education. Together, we’re part of VisionTrust!