by Emily Monroe
When I think back on high school, I sometimes cringe. If way back then, someone had given me the choice of whether to go to high school or not, I probably would have opted out.
That’s why it was so amazing to me when our first round of kids graduated 6th grade and we asked them what they wanted to do next and the unanimous decree was: go to high school. But wait, we said, we’re going to ask you to work full-time this summer to earn a scholarship to high school. Again, the agreement was unanimous.
Our Practicante Program is developing young leaders by equipping adolescent boys and girls with practical skills that will help them succeed in their education and in their future careers. Aside from the direct skills they gain by working as teaching, secretarial, and maintenance assistants, they are learning to solve problems, interact with their co-workers, take initiative, and accept criticism in a healthy way. They also benefit from the supportive environment at Casita where they continue to receive daily meals, medical care, educational programming, homework help, and mentorship.
Meet Wilson, a 7th grader who is in his first year as a Practicante. Wilson was one of the original Casita kids and it’s been amazing to watch him grow over the last four years from a wild, rambunctious little boy into a kind and respectful young man. Wilson is the oldest child in his family, and his mother was just fifteen when she became pregnant with him. His mother, Oralia, admits that at first she had no idea what she was doing, and she regrets Wilson’s early years where she took out a lot of her desperation on him. Oralia’s mother had died when she was a little girl and she grew up with her father and brothers. She never had the chance to go to school since she was responsible for most of the household chores.
When Oralia first started working, she left Wilson at a nearby orphanage where the conditions were bleak. She didn’t have enough money to pay someone to care for her children and she couldn’t take them with her to work. Wilson and his younger sister and brother spent their days in the orphanage where food was scarce and supervision limited. But Oralia was determined to keep her family with her and she returned each night to the orphanage to take her children back to the one room mud house she rented for 2/3 of her salary.
Oralia’s dream for her children is that they will have the education she never had. She hopes that they graduate high school and maybe even go on to university. With the support of Casita, that dream is not only possible, it’s coming true right now.
Oralia was front and center at Wilson’s sixth grade graduation and she continues to encourage Wilson to study and get good grades. Wilson is one of the stars of our practicante program because of his respectful and hard-working nature. We can’t wait to see what his future holds.
There are many families like Wilson’s in our program; and they need ongoing support throughout their lives. Sponsor a child today and Change a World forever!