Raquel lives in El Sauce with her mother and several siblings. Her father died when she was young, and her mother takes care of them all on the pension that the state gives her, roughly $43 per month. It’s best to let our contact Ashley describe Raquel to you.
It is my pleasure to recommend Raquel Vallejo Martinez to receive a scholarship from ONE. I have known Raquel for five years, but during the past three years, I have gotten to know her on a personal level. I first met Raquel when she was selected as a Ciudad Hermana scholarship recipient, a program based in Rochester, NY that provides scholarships to elementary school students in the El Sauce area who demonstrate financial need and the motivation and interest to do well in school. (Note: this program only supports students through 6th grade, so when she graduated from 6th grade this December, she “lost” this scholarship since it does not continue supporting students in high school).
For the past three years, Raquel has also participated in the program Amigos en Acción, a program that I run alongside El Sauce native Martha Rojas. Since this program runs daily throughout the school year, I have had the chance to truly get to know Raquel and to see the incredible young lady that she is becoming. Raquel is intrinsically motivated and loves learning, something that you can see as soon as you meet her. She is very careful with all of her schoolwork, which is apparent when you see her impeccable handwriting and the care she takes to present her work cleanly and thoroughly. I have had the opportunity to see her blossom during the past three years working with our program, both in her schoolwork and with learning English.
Even though she tends to be quiet, she also actively participates, has developed strong self-confidence, and is a very independent learner – perhaps something that she has learned unconsciously as she is the oldest daughter in her family. She also has demonstrated incredible character in dealing with other students – she is able to get along with anyone, and I can count on her to be willing to work with anyone if we do partner or small group work. Her grades speak for themselves – her average this year was 89.6%, even with all of the disruption that the pandemic has caused in our world, especially for our children’s education!
Raquel is a humble young lady (sidenote: I have changed this word multiple times, since I can’t quite accept that the 7-year-old that I met so many years ago is now 12 years old and growing quickly into a lovely young lady). She comes from a very humble family that somehow survives on 1500 Córdobas (roughly $43) per month, yet you will never hear her or her family complain. Raquel has three siblings: an older brother, Mardon, who will be starting 4th year in secondary school; a younger sister, Karla Patricia, who is 10 and will be starting 5th grade this year; and a younger brother who is about 4 years old. The oldest three children lost their father when they were young, and they survive on the check that the mother receives for child support since their father is deceased: a mere 500 Córdoba’s per child per month.
While their mother, Blanca, has another partner, he does not live consistently with them and doesn’t support them financially; occasionally, he will bring them supplies like rice or beans. In addition to this, Raquel’s mom is taking care of a 15-month-old boy, the son of a woman she met near their home and was helping out, but this woman disappeared one day and left her son for Blanca to care for with no word or explanation. Despite all of these obstacles and challenges, Blanca knows the value of education and insists that her children continue studying to better their lives; she even has made sure that Raquel’s older brother continues to study every day since she knows that the sabatino (Saturday) classes are much more difficult, and she wants her children to learn so that they can be somebody later in life and be able to support themselves. When I explained the opportunity of applying for this scholarship for Raquel, she broke down crying and expressed her deep appreciation for even having the chance to apply to receive this support. Every day is a struggle to make sure her children are able to eat, be clothed, and be cared for when they are sick, yet she has a positive outlook, incredible faith, and is sincerely appreciative for even the smallest help that she receives.
I can recommend Raquel with no doubts that she will continue to be a wonderful student ready to learn and grow, and that she will make the most of the opportunity to receive this scholarship if she is chosen as a new ONE scholarship recipient.
Thank you to all of you for the work you do to support the girls who already receive a scholarship, and I truly hope that Raquel will get to join the ONE family!
Well, with a recommendation like that, how could we possible say no? We are so excited to have Raquel join ONE, and we hope that we are able to help her make her dreams a reality. Welcome Raquel!
Raquel will be entering her third year of secondary school in early January. Her year-end letter to us talked about her last year and what she looks forward to for this coming year. We love that she is excited to learn new things!
What are you excited about for the coming school year? I am excited about the new things I am going to learn. Also that I am going into a more difficult year than this past one.
What are you nervous about for next year in school? I am nervous when I think about learning new material. If it will be more difficult it will be hard but I have faith that I will understand it.
In what subject would you like to improve your performance? How will you do this? The class I’d like to get better in is geography, and also natural sciences are a bit hard for me. I propose to improve my studying and analysis to better understand them.
What the absolute best thing that happened to you during that past school year? The best thing that happened to me was to know that I got high grades and that I will advance into a higher grade.
What was the best thing you accomplished this past year? My best achievement was to understand math. At first I thought it would be really hard, but that didn’t happen and I understood a lot.
Tell us about your favorite teacher. Why is this person your favorite teacher? My favorite teacher is named Felix Mendoza. He teaches English class. He is my favorite because he advises all of us. Also, before starting class he explains a little about the Bible. When he explains things to us in class I understand him and if I don’t, he explains it to me in a very simple way and he is very kind and humble.
Raquel Vallejo Martinez
Raquel is growing up so fast! Christa was able to spend a good amount of time with her during her December visit to El Sauce. Raquel was also at Emili’s graduation because her younger sister was also graduating from 6th grade, and her baby brother graduated from preschool at the same ceremony. She also got to meet and spend time with Meghan, which was great. It was lovely to see her and to visit her at her home. She’s growing up fast, but is still a little girl enough that when she joined us in Ocotal for a couple days, she and Karina’s 9-year old sister Daniela were best buddies again, just like last year. Raquel’s average at the end of the year was 85%, and we’re really proud of her efforts. She loves English, and was practicing a bit with Karina and all of the Norteamericanos. She says she’d like to open a beauty salon but is also interested in business administration. No reason at all that she couldn’t do both; we think that goes well together!
Raquel’s midterm grades were really good, and her midyear letter us even better. She was a cumplidora in the September parade, meaning she had high enough grades to have that honor. We’re very proud of her!
From: Raquel Vallejo Martinez
For: Christa and donors
Hello Christa and the donors of this foundation. I hope this finds you healthy and I am very happy and enthusiastic to tell you about this school year.
The best part of this year so far has been when I started 2nd year I set myself the goal of pushing myself to learn and keep my grades up. There is only three months left to go in the year, and in the first two trimesters I didn’t fail any classes. I did really well, thanks to God, and I feel very proud because I thought it would be difficult but I accomplished it.
What goals do you have for the rest of the school year?
- One goal I have for these last three months of the year is to learn the computer course that I am going to take in October, and finish in the middle of November.
- To finish my year.
- To behave well and do better in class.
What is your favorite class? Teach us something from that class.
My favorite class is English. It’s hard but I feel a passion for the language and for music in English.
Hello, my name is Raquel and I am happy.
What is your favorite color?
My favorite color is black. I like it a lot because I think it goes with my dark skin and because it is dark and it goes with everything.
I will say goodbye very happy to have told you all this. May God bless you very much Christa and each one of you. Blessings.
Raquel has been meeting with Karina and Emili as part of Karina’s mentoring program. We’re really excited about this development; Karina could not be a better person to mentor these two young women, and Raquel already adores her. Most recently, Karina met to ask them some questions, and here are Raquel’s answers. We love that she wants to know all about the “infinity of science!” But it makes us sad that she is scared of war in her country. No one should ever have to worry about that.
What is your favorite thing to do in life? Or would you like to do?
I would like to learn all the infinity of science, what it has to do with all the planets
How would you describe a real life for yourself?
Being someone important in life, having my own business, knowing that I am already prepared and can help my family.
What are you afraid of?
Of toads, snakes, darkness, failing classes, war in my country, or the death of someone in my family.
Is it important for you to study, and why?
Yes, because the life of my future is going to be more beautiful, I am going to be a prepared and learned young woman.
Why do you think education would change your life? Because just like our parents, it teaches us to be polite, to have respect, we learn a lot and we can become someone important in life.
If you could visit a place, where would you go?
To Paris, to the Eiffel Tower and the National Soccer Stadium of Peru.
Christa got to meet Raquel during her visit in December, and get to know her and her family a little bit. Raquel is a lovely young woman, and it was a lot of fun to get to know her. She’s shy, but laughs easily, and is very dedicated to being a good daughter and a good student. We were able to visit Karina at her home in Los Altos de Ocotal, and we spent the day there with Karina and her younger sister Daniela. Of course, Raquel and Daniela became fast friends.
Raquel tells us that she loves English and Phys Ed and sciences, and she did pretty well at the end of her first year of secondary school, with a high 80s average. At the big party we had for our year-end celebration, Raquel showed up wearing heels and makeup. When Christa asked if she was comfortable, she said no, but her mother made her wear them. We understand!
Raquel is doing well in high school, despite the fact that’s it’s a whole new world from primary school. She loves math, as she tells us in her letter to us, but her grades are also stellar in biology and physical education. Her letter to us answered some questions we asked her and we found the answers very interesting. Raquel is clearly a young woman who knows what she needs and doesn’t put up with anything else!
Here’s a translation of her letter to us:
For: Christa 15 August, 2021
Hello Christa, I hope this finds you healthy and surrounded by all your family and the donors of this foundation. I want to thank you for all you’ve helped me with in my studies. I ask God to accompany you on all your roads and also Ashley, Karina, and Marina who always help me with what I can’t understand. Many greetings to you.
- Is secondary school easier or harder for you than primary school? Why? Describe the differences between the two.
Secondary school is more difficult for me because they are very new classes and different teachers that I am just getting to know. Primary school was easier for me because thanks to God Ashley’s help was a great aid. She helped me with my homework and my work.
- What has been your favorite class up to now this year? Why do you like this class? Describe something you’ve learned in this class.
My favorite class is math. I like it because I understand it easily in class and I like to be clear about that class. I have learned to add, subtract, multiply and divide. Also I have learned to find the answers quickly.
- Have you made new friends in secondary school? Tell us about your friends.
I have made few friends because the majority I haven’t felt capable of being friends with because they are bad friends who give bad advice. I have one friend who gives me advice. She helps me with what I don’t understand. When I don’t have money, she shares with me and doesn’t give me bad advice.
- What have you learned from your meetings with Karina? Has this been a help to you, and why?
Karina talks to me about topics that are important for me. She talks to me about what she lived, about teen pregnancy, why I shouldn’t listen to boys, that they don’t pay attention to the good girls, only the bad ones. It’s been a big help to me because I feel that she lived what I lived and she’s a good example for me.
Sincerely, Raquel Vallejo Martinez
Raquel met with Karina in April for snacks and a chat about “how do I accomplish my goals in life?” Karina put together a whole lesson on this subject, and here is a synopsis of what they discussed, which we love!
How to achieve my goals in life?
We know that it is not easy to achieve the big goals in life, but this does not mean that we are going to discard them, we must start by proposing the small goals and strive to meet them, once this happens successfully we will feel motivated to continue working to achieve our goals. You know what? You can have it all! The key is to set yourself clear goals and work towards them.
Have more confidence in yourself: When you accomplish small goals, you will dare to try for bigger ones. In addition, it will be easier for you to face day-to-day challenges, such as resisting the bad influence of some of your acquaintances and other people.
Find good friends: Everyone likes to be with people who know what they want and strive to achieve their goals, and who rejoice in our achievements.
Be happier: Let’s face it: sitting around all day is not much fun. But when you set goals and meet them, life is so much more exciting. So why not start setting goals now?
CHOOSE YOUR GOALS
1. Write down all the ones that come to mind. How many can you think of? Do you think you can target at least ten? Without much thought, just write them down!
2. Analyze them. Which ones do you like the most? Which ones would you have to try harder with? Which ones would make you feel happier if you did? Remember: if your goals really mean something to you, it will be easier for you to achieve them.
3. Order them. Number them in the order you would like to accomplish them.
Karina says Raquel is really sweet and very interested in these discussions. We’re really happy to hear this, and we think she is going to do well in high school with a mentor like Karina!
Raquel has been meeting with Karina regularly to discuss life, love, career, education, and all kind of other things. We have asked Karina to mentor her and Odalys, since secondary school is rife with distractions for beautiful young women, and we want them to have some other ideas of things that they can do, ways to think about their education, boys, etc. Karina is the perfect person to do this; she has continued on with her education despite many obstacles, didn’t find a boyfriend until college, and is very dedicated to her life and her goals. And she’s Nicaraguan, and not that much older than them, which is important. We can say all of this, but we are “old, white women,” so what could we possibly know about their lives?
Raquel is in her first year of secondary school, and we want her to start off on the right foot. We think a mentor like Karina is the best possibility for this. These meetings are not required, but we have made it clear to Raquel hat we would really like it if she could join Karina for these discussions and field trips. So far she is meeting with Karina every time there is a possibility, which makes us very happy.
On their trip to Leon, Karina took them to the cathedral, the Ruben Dario Museum (Dario was a Nicaraguan poet who had a huge influence on Spanish literature and journalism of the 20th century), the booksellers at the park, and to a movie. She wanted them to have an idea of some of the culture and history of their country, and to learn more about their own surroundings. We are really excited they all did this field trip, and we hope there will be more in the coming year.