Happy February, everyone! The days do go by, don’t they? Our girls in Nicaragua start school this month, and for three of them, it will be their last year of secondary school, so there is a little excitement in the air. But we’d like to tell you about something that has just made our hearts all mushy with happiness.
As you know, we just accepted Raquel to the program. She’s entering high school and as you also may guess, this is a fraught time. Usually the first year or two goes well, but then hormones and boys and all that kind of stuff kick in, and sometimes we lose them (for instance, we lost Alondra this year, because she just lost interest in school). So Christa thought it might be a good idea to give Raquel and Odalys (who enters her 2nd year of high school) a mentor to help them with the kinds of things one deals with in high school. It needed to be someone from there, and a young woman, a little older but not too old. Christa asked Karina, our very first high school graduate, if she’d be interested. She is perfect for the job. She’s so thoughtful, kind, compassionate, and has overcome all kinds of obstacles in her life to keep studying (she graduates from the university this coming December!). And she’s just a wonderful person, as those of us who have met her can testify.
Karina was more than excited that we asked her to do this, and readily agreed. She met with Raquel (Odalys had to babysit her little brother) for the first time on January 30, and we wanted to send you her report. ONE is going to pay her a small stipend monthly (we haven’t figured out how much yet) and we will pay for anything she does with the girls or buys for them. She’s been so lovely and enthusiastic, making sure we approve of all her plans and things she wants to do. We are so excited for her and for Raquel, and hopefully Odalys will be able to join more often.
So here is the report that Karina sent from her first meeting with Raquel. You should know this was not something we asked for. This is just who Karina is. We think you should know how much this foundation and her education has meant to her. Thank you for helping make it possible!
Raquel is so cute, and she reminds me a lot of myself when she was younger and when I started studying. She told me that she is nervous about starting high school, it’s normal, that’s how I felt! She told me that she likes to read stories and she also likes science. When I go to León I am going to buy books for them, she seemed interested when we talked about the little prince! I also told her that we were going to go out together to buy books, to tourist places in León. She says that whenever she travels she vomits. So we’ll have to figure out how to fix that.
The next meeting we have not planned yet because she still does not know if we should meet in the afternoon or in the morning. Ashley thinks she should meet in the morning because she lives far away, and Odalys studies in the morning so then there would not be a perfect time for the meetings with them together. And the weekend I am in León.
I have a list of topics that I’m going to share with them. Today I had the first one prepared but I would like Odalys to listen to it too. Then I told her a little about my history with my studies and the importance it has had and still has. Ashley talked about the foundation and gave some advice.
I’m going to give you a review of what I talked about.
I am Karina Martinez. I am from Ocotal and I received a grant from the foundation. I met Ashley at a tourist meeting in Los Altos de Ocotal. I remember that she greeted me and I started talking with her and she wanted to know about me. I told her that I wanted to be a tourist guide in the future, that I wanted to study tourism, but my parents couldn’t send me to El Sauce to study because they had no money, and my older brother was already studying and it was very expensive for them. I remember that I prayed so much every night that my aunt, who lived in El Sauce, would tell my parents that I should study too. Days after my promotion I spoke with my mother about my desire to study and she told me that they wanted that but there was not enough money, that perhaps in the future my father would emigrate to Costa Rica (to earn money). I cried so much that day in the back of my house. That night I made a decision and stole the necessary documents to ask a cousin who was studying on Saturdays at the institute, to enroll in that school and that I would travel with her, that she please allow me to do so. She accepted and I gave her the documents. In my community there was no transportation to get to El Sauce. By then I knew Ashley, and she told me about Christa and the foundation. My mom found out about my plan and I thought she was going to be mad. She just looked at me and I saw a look of hope. Days later she told me that my aunt had accepted me into her house to study daily at the institute with my brother.
I got to high school and I remember that months later Ashley contacted my mother and told her that they wanted to get a scholarship, I was happy with the news because at last my plans had hopes of being fulfilled.
I lived two years in my aunt’s house. She and her grandchildren were horrible to us, I wanted to continue my studies, but not in that house. My parents decided that I should study on Saturdays, and I did! Many things happened on my way but I never gave up. I watched many things come into my life, but never stopped studying. Studying Saturdays was very difficult and tiring. Walking 30 kilometers on the same day to have a day of class is not impossible but it is hard! I was not the best in class nor did I reach the average of 90 in my classes. I always struggled to get high marks, but I did not accomplish it.
But I didn’t give up, no matter how difficult the situation was, I had a goal to meet: to get to college, to fulfill my dreams, I kept doing it so one day I could say, I did it!
Ok, what I want you to know is that I am here, to be your friend, the help that sometimes we all need in low moments. I want you to share your class ideas, the doubts you have. Also to show you the importance of education, the achievements that one learns, how education changes lives. Every day we learn something new; no matter how many degrees or studies we have, we always need something to learn.
Education is the most indispensable thing in life. It makes us better human beings, we can eradicate poverty. It makes us a fundamental part of society. We fulfill our dreams. We can help other people to find their dreams, and help the family.
It is important that you take it time to find the right friends at school, this is inevitable. I went through this first day of high school and I was also nervous and lonely. I made mistakes, but I also learned. I did not know how to choose the right people for the work groups. We must always look for people who are positive for our lives and not someone who wants to destroy. It is better to let these kinds of people go than to be pretending that everything is fine. It will be better for our soul.
I encourage you to be persistent in education. A person is not characterized by the title he has but by dedication and determination, values, love. I know that you still don’t know what you plan to study in the future, but now, value this scholarship opportunity, take advantage of your time, don’t give up, the challenges are always there, and the achievements too!
These are some topics that I took from some books that I have. I have developed them on the computer. Are they okay? Should I remove one?
- What are good friends like?
- How can I resist temptations?
- Should I stop studying?
- How can I make better use of my time?
- Why don’t guys like me? (This is not important, the right one will come when the time is right).
- Should we be ready to get married?
- how can I achieve my goals in life?
Seeing Raquel, I saw myself in the past and I was filled with happiness that I was so inspired by her. I’m am certain she wants to study and be someone better, although she doesn’t know yet what she wants to study or be for in the future, I see a spark in her eyes.
You were my mentor and that’s why I want to do this with them. In life we need to see a positive reflection to encourage us to make good decisions and you were and are that for me. So I want to help them feel safe and say one word: “you can.”
Our contact Ashley was at the meeting, and here is what she had to say: “I was honestly amazed by Karina! She spoke so confidently and was so welcoming to Raquel! She did such a great job sharing her story with Raquel and what the purpose of these meetings is, and her hopes for them connecting and being a support for her.”
This, in all honesty, feels like the best result we could ever hope for with this foundation. A young woman who received an education through our help has found her voice and a desire to help another young woman make her mark on the world. We simply couldn’t be prouder of Karina, and more excited for Raquel. She has a wonderful mentor.