It is best to introduce Belen through Ashley Sullivan, one of our contacts in El Sauce.
I have known Belen for two years, ever since she was selected as a Ciudad Hermana scholarship recipient when she was in fifth grade. Students are selected as scholarship recipients for this program based on financial need and motivation. In Belen’s case, the school director recognized her family’s need for financial support due to the fact that Belen was being raised by a single mother who travels to Costa Rica to work because she has been unable to find work in El Sauce. While Belen’s mother is working (she goes for three months at a time, then returns for a short visit to see her children before having to return to work), Belen lives with her sister, brother-in-law, and niece. They all look out for each other, and their mother checks in with them often to make sure they are doing well. Belen has no contact with her father, as he left the family when she was young and formed another family and has never supported her family financially. While it is not ideal for a pre-teen to be raised by her 20-something sister, I truly believe that Belen is in good hands and has a lot of potential to do well. Her sister is very responsible, and is studying on Saturdays, which provides a great example for Belen of the importance of education. Her mother stays as involved as possible, and Belen seems to have matured quickly and well, taking more responsibility than most 12 year olds.
Belen has also participated in the Amigos en Accion program this year, and she is another student that I have come to love working with. She is a very respectful person, both of adults and of her classmates. She works very hard to do well in all of her classes, taking responsibility for her work. She also looks out for her classmates and is very empathetic. She notices when a classmate is struggling, either with classwork or with a difficult family or friend situation, and is willing to do what she can to help her classmate. Belen also works very hard in English class and has done extremely well in picking up on such a difficult language! Even though Belen can be a more introverted, quiet student, she stepped outside of her comfort zone during a 7 week music program that we were able to offer during Amigos en Accion with two volunteers from the US: she agreed to sing a solo in one of our songs, which she performed beautifully during the concert in front of all of the families and teachers! I am very proud of all that Belen has accomplished this year, and I believe that she has a lot of potential to do well in secondary school and beyond. Since her family is surviving on the income that her mom is able to earn working in Costa Rica, I think that receiving a ONE scholarship will be extremely helpful to the family in providing for Belen’s educational needs.
When we met with Belen and her mother and the rest of her family, it was clear that the family is careful and respectful. Their house is well arranged and clean, and the land around it was clean and carefully tended. Belen was quiet and a bit shy, but very serious about answering our questions carefully. We are excited to see where she goes in her schooling and in life!
Belen’s application letter to us included a very sweet drawing. Even though she has never seen a snowman in her life, Christmas calls for snowmen, apparently!
Dear patrons, I hope this finds you well and together with your families. This letter is because I want to ask for a scholarship because my family and I have very few resources.
I would like to obtain this scholarship to be able to move forward with my studies and make my dream a reality of being a professional when I am an adult.
I hope that you help me to continue and I promise you that I will fight to help my family move forward.
Sincerely, Belen Alexandra Monge Rocha
I will wait for your help, thank you and may God bless you. This year I learned a little English and next year I hope to be able to learn more.
Belen managed to survive the year and pass all her classes with a 71% average. Considering that they couldn’t go to school for a couple months due to a Covid death in the town, we are delighted that she made it through the year. She sent us her year end letter, which is translated below. In February she enters her final year of secondary school! Where does the time go?
29 December 2020
Dear Christa and ONE Foundation. I hope this finds you healthy. I am grateful for the scholarship help this year and for your intention to continue helping us.
We want to share with all of you that the biggest challenge for me this year was having to leave class because of the pandemic and the hurricanes, because we had to take care of ourselves. The best part of the year was that we are all well, thank God, and that also are building our school, which makes us all very happy.
I’m really proud of having completed my school year. What I am most hoping for next year is to be able to reach my goal of completing my fifth year, which is for me the most exciting.
I am still in the process of preparing myself because we have to choose different careers from those of our friends, and because high school is the most beautiful stage of our studies but we are also going to meet new friends. I would like to study in the career of dentistry, which I would study in the city of Leon.
I say goodbye, very grateful for your help. I hope that you continue to help us and I hope that you take care of yourselves. And that you have a merry Christmas and a happy new year.
Sincerely, Belen Monge
Meghan and Christa had a wonderful, albeit too short, visit with Belen in December. She has turned into such a lovely young lady, and she really seems to be enjoying school. We had a long conversation about how much she enjoys geography, which of course Christa loved to hear! Belen really is a lovely person, very quiet but quick to smile, and very kind. We are so excited to watch her last two years of high school. In her final letter for the year, she talks about another interesting subject they are studying, which is globalization. One aspect of globalization that we love is the ability to travel to places like El Sauce and meet young women like Belen.
El Sauce, Nicaragua 6 December 2019
Hello, I hope you find yourselves very well and prosperous. I want to thank you for continuing to help me.
I want to tell you that the achievement of which I am most proud from this year is that I received a diploma for having participated in the training “Promotion of Values for Coexistence with Compassion” as participants in Counseling in the Educational Community.
The class I liked the most was social sciences, where there is geography and history. The subject most interesting to me was “Globalization.” It explained that today the world is experiencing constant change and advances in diverse aspects of human life. This has generated a systemic transformation which has evolved as human beings seek to satisfy their needs.
My favorite joke is about Pepito. When someone in class says “Facebook,” he responds, “I like! I like! I like!”
And I am excited because next year I will be going into fourth year and although it is very difficult, I am anxious for it to come.
I say goodbye with a lot of love, waiting for you always and with a heartfelt wish that you have a Merry Christmas
Sincerely, Belen Monge
Belen has been doing really well in school; her midterm average was 86%! Clearly she has found a rhythm, and we hope she continues to enjoy school and thrive! Her letter to us for the midterm expresses a lot of pride for her accomplishments in school—and sports!
Dear Christa and the team from the ONE Foundation, I hope this finds you healthy and filled with life.
I want to tell you that the best thing that happened to me this year up until now is that I have played a lot of sports and I have learned a lot about volleyball that before I didn’t know. I feel very happy to have learned and enjoyed myself in such a healthy way.
The difference that I see in myself between now and the beginning of the school year is that before I was getting lower grades and now my academic performance has risen.
I believe the reason for this difference is that at the beginning of the year my classes were a little more difficult and with time I became accustomed to them.
I think the difference between now and the end of the year will be that my grades will continue to improve.
I say goodbye with much love, wishing you many blessings.
Sincerely, Belen Alexandra Monge Rocha
Belen ended her year with an average of 80%, which is really great. As ever, she is thoughtful and quiet and very respectful. When we visited, her mother was in Costa Rica working, and would not return until after the new year, so we spoke with Belen, her sister in law, and her niece (who mostly stood around and smiled a lot!). She’s enjoying school, and is very happy to be living in town, so she doesn’t have such a long walk, or bike ride to school every day. Her final letter to us was really cute, with a big red Christmas stocking, and lots of English, despite the fact that the letter ended with, “I don’t speak English.” Anything in quote marks was written in English.
El Sauce, 4 December, 2018
Dear ONE Foundation, I hope this finds you very well.
My family and I are very grateful to you for the scholarship, which has been much help to me, and thank you for helping me realize my dreams.
I want to tell you that this year was very fun because I was involved in many sports events with other schools. We also learned how to lose and win, because we lost at soccer but won in volleyball and athletics.
With this I say “thanks very much” and may you have “one good happy merry Christmas.”
Sincerely, Belen Alexandra Monge Rocha
Belen is doing great in her second year of high school! She received an 86% average, which is wonderful. We are very proud of her efforts and hope that she continues to thrive. We received her mid-year letter to us. For this letter, we asked the girls to describe something they accomplished this year, something they’d like to accomplish for the rest of the year, and to tell us their favorite story or legend from Nicaragua. We’re learning a lot! Here is Belen’s letter to us:
El Sauce, 31 July, 2018
Dear Christa and the Organization, I send you a cordial greeting and I hope this finds you all healthy and together with your families.
Thank you for helping me all this time. You have given me much help, I hope that you continue helping me for the rest of my time in secondary school. I want to do well this year in order to pass 8th grade (second year of secondary school) and meet with my family at the end of the year. I want to tell you that I was a cumplidora this year with an average of 87%, thanks to god, because I made a really big effort.
I hope that you are all doing well there, and that you are enjoying yourselves, since I am doing well here and enjoying myself.
With this I say goodbye and I hope you have a very nice day.
Sincerely, Belen A. Monge Rocha
My favorite story is: La Carreta Nagua
They say there are a lot of them in the streets of El Sauce at midnight. It is a cart with two oxen made of bones and behind are some skeletons with candles. They travel all the streets and scare everyone a lot. Later they disappear, hiding themselves in dark places.
Belen finished her first year in high school with an 80% average, which is really terrific. She’s a good student, very serious and motivated, and she tries really hard. In addition, Belen’s family moved into a house in town, which is wonderful. She won’t have to travel so far to get to school and other activities, and she now lives in a bit more safe and secure house and neighborhood. Belen’s mother is back from Costa Rica for a few months, so it is really wonderful for the family to have her there. When we visited in December, we saw that Belen remains a lovely, humble young lady, with a smile to melt your heart.