Sua came to us through Marina, our contact in El Sauce. Marina knows Sua’s mother, Emerita, who sells tortillas around town. Between Emerita and her husband Francisco, who does what work is available, they make only about 1000 cordobas a month, which translates to roughly $50 U.S. With this amount, they feed three girls, and rent their home (which costs a third of their monthly income). Needless to say, school is a challenging expense, but they’ve been supporting their girls first, to keep them in school. Emerita heard about the scholarship program and asked Marina about it, so Marina took Christa to meet them in December of 2012. They live in a tiny, but well-kept house a few blocks from the main street. Emerita makes tortillas in the kitchen in the back, and they have a few sacks of red beans on the floor to sell. The house is small but obviously well taken care of, and Emerita shyly showed me around and introduced me to her family. When I met Sua, I asked her what she thought she wanted to do and she immediately said “doctora,” because she wants to help children. Sua is a little shy, but who wouldn’t be with a big Gringa staring at her? When I asked to see her final report card from fourth level in primary school she soon got over her shyness and showed it to me proudly. Sua finished last year with an 84% average, She has really high marks, especially in math, which I told her was very impressive. I told her I didn’t get very high marks in math, and she said that she really likes the subject. She sent us a lovely letter with pictures of rabbits, green trees, and the sun drawn on the back, in which she said “I like to go to school and I am fascinated by my classes.” We think that’s a pretty good start!
We learned in December that Sua, her younger sister Zilpa, and Sua’s boyfriend left for the United States in October. Although we understand the need to try and find work that pays something, and that the situation in Nicaragua is dire, we are nonetheless disappointed that she didn’t say anything to us, and that she used money we gave her for school to do it. We heard from her youngest sister, Naara, that they are in Florida. We wish them well and hope for all the best for them. It is an unfortunate fact of life these days that so many people need to leave these countries to seek a better life elsewhere. We hope that the skills she learned in school will somehow serve her as she makes her way into her future.
In the beginning of the year, Sua decided she wanted to go back to school. She had been selling shoes and clothes at a store at the bus terminal and doing some makeup work, but not much, and she was feeling a bit down about her prospects. Originally, she said she wanted to go to the university for nursing or pharmacy, but her health isn’t good enough to handle the stress of that. She says she still gets dizzy but hasn’t fainted in a while, but the stress of nursing or pharmacy school would be too much. So she sent us an application for a vocational program in accounting that she can take in El Sauce, which is great.
Sua’s life continues to be challenging. Her father has gone to live with his new wife, and her younger sisters now live with their grandparents. Sua is living with her boyfriend, and we will continue to support her as long as she stays in school and doesn’t get pregnant. Sua has had such a hard time of it in the past few years, between her health and her mother’s death; it would be easy to give up, and we are just so happy she still wants to move forward and be a professional in her future.
We have included her very impressive application answers here. She studies on Saturdays and works at a pizzeria in town the rest of the week, earning about $15 per week, so the money for this program really helps.
Sua’s Application Answers
SECTION 1: YOUR PERSONAL EXPERIENCES
In this section, we want to know about you, your qualities and talents, and what important life experiences you have had. Please choose two or more of the following questions to answer in this section.
Describe an attribute or quality that you feel makes you special or that distinguishes you.
In consideration of this, I would say one of the qualities that makes me special is my humility and empathy for other people. During my life I have learned that every person should be valued whether they come from a high level of society or not, because we all need each other. Being humble without being concerned about where you are or where you stand in society can help you be a successful person in life.
Who is someone you admire and why do you admire this person?
I always admired my mother because she was a warrior and fought to help us (her children) get ahead no matter what. Now I have come to admire my father because even with all that has happened, he has continued to take care of us (his 3 daughters) and look after us and make sure that we have what we need.
Describe an experience from your life and how it has changed the way you think about the world.
Well, an experience that I still have not been able to get past is the death of my mother. This affects me very much personally and emotionally, to the point that I was not eating the way I should. With time I am improving on this habit.
What is a big challenge you have faced, and how did you overcome it?
A challenge I am facing, the biggest one that has happened in my life, was losing the person I most loved, love and will always love in my entire existence: my mom. Truly it is a challenge that one doesn’t manage to overcome, rather one learns to survive with the situation.
SECTION 2: YOUR INFLUENCES
In this section, we want to know about who and what has influenced your life and who you are. Please choose two or more of the following questions to answer in this section.
Who has been your biggest influence and why?
The person who has most influenced my life is my mom. Because with her, I learned most of the qualities that make up the person I am. The values that I represent and the image I have in society are because of her.
How has your education contributed to who you are today?
My education has contributed as I advanced through the years of school because each day I learned something new. You connect with people who help motivate you do be better, and so my mind developed very effectively. Because of this, I feel I am person full of strong values that serve me in my day to day life.
How has your involvement in your community and/or school activities contributed to your personal growth?
This has affected me in a positive manner. Among our neighbors, we help each other out and have a sense of solidarity, and overall respect. This makes us good people.
SECTION 3: YOUR CAREER CHOICE
In this section, we want to know about why you want to continue studying, and your plans for your studies and your future. Please choose three or more of the following questions to answer in this section.
Why do you want to get a university education and what career are you planning to study for?
I want to study in University because I am interested in being a very good professional. I will feel proud of myself because I will be able to study what interests me, and at some point, I’ll be able to share my knowledge with the society and community. The major I wish to study is Finance and Public Accounting.
Why are you interested in this career?
I am interested in this course of study because firstly I like all that I could be able to perform in well, and because of how I could help people who would need my assistance and knowledge. Also because this is a profession with high demand and the probabilities of finding work are high.
Describe your goals for your future. How will this course of study help you reach those goals?
This degree will help me a lot in the future because with it, I can find good work with a good salary. This would permit me to get ahead economically and meet my goals.
How will this career help your community?
It could help other young people by motivating them to push themselves and I could help by giving help in what I have learned in my studies.
Why will you be good at this career?
I really like mathematics and I have a good big picture vision of the future. I have many goals I want to achieve and I could do this work with care and have excellent performance in this career.
How will your university studies help you reach your career goal?
My university studies would help me in a huge way with new knowledge, which would be the most important part of my professional goals. Also, it will open new doors, facilitated by my care and dedication to my profession.
SECTION 4: CHALLENGES
In this section, we want you to consider what challenges might arise during your studies, and how you think you would respond to those challenges. Please answer both of the following two questions for this section.
What kinds of challenges do you think might occur for you during your studies (for example: school work, your life, your family, your health, etc.)?
Among the challenges that might affect me the main one is my health because I have a long term brain disorder / illness. Another challenge could be my exam in the case that I am unable to understand a particular theme or subject matter. Depression and my emotions could also affect me during the course of my studies.
Describe how you might respond to some of these challenges so you can continue studying.
Continuing with my permanent medical treatments.
Studying constantly so that my exams do not become a problem or complicated, and furthermore I can complete them without difficulty. Finally, controlling myself (my emotions) so I am always sure and confident about who I am.
SECTION 5: THE FUTURE
In this section, we want you to think about your future and the future of your career. Please choose two or more of the following questions to answer in this section.
Describe your goals and where you imagine yourself to be in life in the next three years, five years, and 10 years.
In 3 years, I see myself having accomplished my goals by completing my technical degree, and with excellent grades, I will be able to proceed with my bachelor’s degree in Finance and Public Accounting.
In 5 years, I imagine myself having academic success and the great joy of being an excellent professional, and feeling proud of myself for my accomplishments.
In 10 years, I hope to be a very good professional in my work and having much success. With work experience and possibly having specialized studies to continue reaching my dreams, which will become reality through all powerful God who will be my life’s guide.
How will you use your education and your career to help other girls and women with their education?
I would incentivize my values and principles by helping them understand that we can all achieve the goals we set for ourselves despite the (challenging) circumstances of our lives.
What do you think is the biggest challenge to your community, and if possible, how could you help your community overcome this challenge?
The greatest challenge that my community faces is the economy itself and its poor administration. My way of helping would be offering new administration proposals to the personnel who manage the economy, and carrying out campaigns for new entrepreneurial ideas that include the community.
SECTION 6: THE SCHOLARSHIP
In this section, we want to know what you believe makes you the best person to receive this scholarship. Please answer both of following two questions for this section.
Why do you think you should receive this scholarship? Tell us about you, not your circumstances.
Because I believe that if opportunities like this exist for us, we should take advantage of them and I include myself as one of the people who can. I consider myself a very responsible person who has a great desire to get ahead in life. I believe I deserve support like this scholarship. My goals are very efficient with respect to how I can grow in my professional life.
Sua’s family had a really big year. Both her sisters graduated from their respective grades: one from sixth grade and one from secondary school. Other than at the graduations, we didn’t get to see much of Sua because she was working a lot selling clothes and shoes at a store at the bus terminal, but she was able to come join us for the big year-end dinner to celebrate all our students.
Sua is definitely struggling and it is hard for us to see. The death of her mother and estrangement of her father has hit her hard. But she stood up and spoke to the new graduates at the party, and said that she plans on continuing her studies as soon as she can, and that one should always move forward. We hope to be able to help her.
Sua had a very challenging 2020. In addition to the pandemic and two hurricanes that swept through El Sauce, her mother died, and she has had to take over the major part of taking care of her younger sisters. She makes tortillas all morning and sells them for about 100 cordobas per day, less than $3. She had originally wanted to go back to school to study at the university, but has decided for now to take cosmetology classes. She applied for a post-secondary scholarship with ONE, and we have awarded her the money to take a month-long program with a salon in Managua. We’re excited for her, and we know that she will be wonderful at her work. She hopes one day to start her own business and make enough money to consider going on to the university at some point. We think this shows a lot of initiative, and we hope that this will be a brighter path forward for her.
Sua graduated on December 5! Her final grades were a little lower than usual for her, but part of that was that she didn’t do so well in physical education, which makes sense, given her seizure disorder. Meghan and Christa attended the graduation and watched Sua proudly take her diploma and move into her future. We asked her what her plans are for the coming year, and she has decided to take a year of rest, largely so she can figure out the medication for her seizures. When she gets stressed or it is too hot, she says she faints, which happened twice this past year. Her parents say she isn’t very consistent with her medication, so everyone thinks it best that she take some time off to get used to a schedule. She wants to take an English class during that time, which we think is a great idea. If she truly wants to study medicine, which she has wanted since we’ve known her, she will need to develop consistency with her medication and her schedul
Sua really went all out for her graduation. She put on a lot of makeup and colored her hair jet black. It took Meghan and Christa a little time to recognize her in the parade before graduation! She looked beautiful and very grown up, but we have to say that we honestly prefer regular Sua, who we think is gorgeous just as she is!
Sua’s final letter to us explains her plans for next year. We hope she will continue to work on her medication and study hard for the entrance exam next winter. And we hope we will be able to help her continue her studies.
For ONE Foundation
El Sauce 06 December 2019
Dear donors, I hope this finds you healthy. My family and I are well and happy because yesterday, the 5th of December I accomplished one more goal of all the ones that yet remain.
This year was a little difficult owing to the work of documentary research and to my AEP project. Those projects were tiring but thanks to God everything went well. This year I made new friends.
Now that I have finished secondary school I want to take a beauty class and one to study English. Later, in 2021 I will go to the university to accomplish my biggest goal and that which I most want to accomplish, which is to study general medicine, with a later specialization in pediactics. All of this I hope to accomplish with your help and the help of my parents and God.
I want to thank all of you for all the help that you have given me, for your support, for your love. From my heart I tell you that I love you a lot and that you are a part of my family. Without your help, that of my parents and of God, I would not have accomplished this goal. I hope you continue helping me to achieve my great dream.
Many thanks, I love you a lot, may God bless you today, tomorrow, and always and protect you wherever you are.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a happy new year.
I say goodbye with a big kiss and hug.
Sincerely, Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo
I love you
Sua is getting ready to graduate this year, and she is excited, nervous, and all those other things that one is just before graduation. Her midterm grades gave her an 83%, which is pretty good. We asked her to think about what she wants to do next and how she will do it, and she sent us this letter. We hope that she does well enough in her post-secondary admission exam to be able to enter medical school. So much depends on how students take tests, as opposed to their performance in high school.
20 September, 2019
For Christa and the ONE Foundation
From Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo
Hello dear members of the ONE Foundation. I hope this finds you healthy. My family and I are well and always grateful for your help.
This school year has been a little difficult because I have taken new classes, but with the help of God, my family and all of you, I will continue forward.
After high school, I will study general medicine and then I hope to receive certification in pediactrics. It will be a little hard for me because of the problem in my head, but I know I will succeed because it is my greatest dream to become a doctor to help my community, to help the people in the countryside.
I would like very much to be able ultimately to found a small clinic in the country, so that those who live in the country don’t have to come to the city.
To accomplish this, I have to take these steps: Pass a class, take the admissions exam, think positively, do my part, finish all the work, attend class and behave well, look for a small scholarship to help me. I will look to see if they will give me one at the university (UNAN).
With the help of God, my family and all of you I will become a licensed doctor.
I will wait for you here in December for my graduation. I want you to be with me in that very happy moment.
I say goodbye with many hugs and kisses. I love you all very much.
Sincerely, Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo
Sua, as ever, is so conscientious and grounded, that even when she’s been ill, she works so hard at school. Her grades suffered because she was diagnosed with a seizure disorder, and is having a hard time sleeping. The doctors prescribed some medication, and Christa checked with her friend Greg regarding her EEG results and her medication. He assured us that many people live completely normal lives with this issue, and that the medication she is taking is pretty much what would be prescribed here. That seemed to calm all of us down, and by the end of our visit, Sua was back to her beautiful smile and killer dimples. She finished the year with an 82%, which is a little low for her, but given her situation, those are still really high grades. And based on her final letter to us, she’s got some serious desire to move ahead! After several years with us, she still wants to be a pediatrician. She’s one of the few girls we support who hasn’t changed her idea for a career since we met. Next year will be her last year in high school, so we are excited to see her shine.
Dear members of ONE Foundation, I hope this finds you well. My family and I are well.
This year was a little difficult for me because I learned new materials, which challenged me a little, but thanks to God, my parents, and all of you, I was able to continue forward.
The success that I had this year was to better my grades, pass my year without any problem, and to learn new things. One of the biggest things I want to accomplish for next year is to pass my year without any problem to be able to graduate, because that is one of my biggest goals. I am excited because I know that I will reach this goal and I already want to graduate. What makes me a little scared after graduating is not being able to pass my admission exam, but I know that with God’s help, and all your help, I will be able to do it.
I am happy because I will graduate later, but at the same time it makes me sad because I will no longer see my friends and I will miss being in high school.
But my biggest goal is to become a great doctor, especially in pediatrics. To be known by everyone, and to have everyone say I am a good doctor. This has been my big dream since I was a child and I know I can accomplish it.
I hope you continue helping me, and that I can always have you near, because you are also a part of my family.
I thank all of you with all my heart, may God bless you that you continue helping many more girls so they can accomplish their goals.
I say goodbye with much love, hugs, kisses, and blessings.
I wish you a merry Christmas and a very prosperous new year. May you spend the best together with your family.
Sincerely, Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo
Sua is still doing well in school. Her grades have dropped a little, because 4th year is pretty challenging. But she did get an average of 85%, so she’s still doing pretty great, as far as we’re concerned!
For the mid-year 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’s Sua’s letter to us:
31 August, 2018
For: ONE Foundation
Dear Christa, I hope this finds you well, along with all the members of the foundation.
I tell you that my family and I are all well and my family is very happy because I am a cumplidora, but this year I will not join in the parade on September 14.
I find myself very happy and proud because I passed all my grades very well.
This year my classes were a little hard for me, but with help from my family and all of you I have been able to continue forward, because I have known how to value the aid and help that you have given me. Thank you for being with me.
I am very happy because I only have one more year to go to graduate and after that I will enter the university.
I want to tell you that this year I made a new friend. Her name is Jasuara Zelaya and she lives in Chichigalpa, and I am very happy for having met her.
I say goodbye to all of you with a big hug and many kisses. I wait for all of you very excitedly at the end of the year.
Sincerely, Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo
1) What is one thing that you’d like to accomplish this year?
My goals are to raise my grades a little, although I have raised them pretty well, but I want to raise them further.
2) Is there something you have done or accomplished this year?
I accomplished raising my grades a little, which helped me raise my grade percentage.
This year I had some fun with my friends, and I also made my friends take a little more interest in their classes.
3) Tell us your favorite story or legend from Nicaragua.
This legend tells of a person but he has the face of a horse, and when you look at her in the eyes, she casts a spell on you. She usually goes around in lonely places and when she knows that they are watching her, she just laughs.
Sua had a good year, although she says some of her classes were pretty hard. She finished the year with an 81% average, which is definitely a little low for her, but she’s not planning on giving up as she goes into fourth year. She’s determined to bring her grades up and continue forward. Sua is best friends with Elizabeth, Alondra, and Tatiana, and it’s really fun to see them all together. She’s got a good head on her shoulders, and we’re excited to see where she goes next year.
For her year end letter this year, we asked Sua to draw an outline of her hand. Inside it she was to write things that she liked about herself, or that she was proud of. Outside it, she was to write things she’d like to accomplish or do this coming year or in the future. Here’s her piece of art! Inside her hand she has written things like “I am pretty,” “I am intelligent,” “I am kind.” Outside her hand she has written things like, “I want to always have lots of friends and be very kind,” “I want to be very happy and never make mistakes in my life.” We hope she’ll hang onto this and add to it when she feels like it.
Sua’s grades have dropped a little this year, but she’s still doing well with an 84% at the end of the year. We asked her why he grades fell and the answer was that high school is much harder! She’s still smiling, and committed to doing well, though, so we’re not too worried.
We had a fun time at her younger sister Zilpa’s promocion from sixth grade, and now there will be two in her family that are in high school at the same time!
At the party we had for Karina’s, Tatiana’s, and Alondra’s graduations, Sua wasn’t so much into dancing, but she was really into musical chairs, drawing and coloring, and playing games. Christa gave each of the girls some school supplies and fun stickers, coloring books, etc. and Sua had already colored her very complex one a few days later when we went to visit the house. She says she likes math the best, but we wonder if she’s going to be an artist as well!
Sua is such a lovely young lady. She’s really serious about her school (her final average for her first year of high school was 90%!), but she also adores her family and her friends and she and Alondra and Tatiana are thick as thieves. Christa visited with her in February, and was amazed at how much difference two years can make. Sua is still a girl, but it won’t be long until she’s a young lady and with that beautiful smile, we’re guessing she’ll be popular with the boys!
Sua’s letter to us for the end of the 2015 school year is very sweet, and very serious. She clearly thought about her responses to our questions.
Date: January 6, 2016
Dear Christa, I hope this finds you and your family healthy. I am very happy because you are coming to visit us, and thank you very much for your help.
— In 2015 I really enjoyed learning a little more about things that exist and have existed in the world.
— The hardest thing for me was English. It was hard to learn a little of it.
— Something that made me feel proud of myself was that in 2015 I was the best student in the class and I accomplished that by doing all my homework, studying and paying attention.
— The three goals that I would like to accomplish are to learn English, I would like to become a professional doctor, I would like to become the best student in the school.
— The classes that I understand and that my friends don’t, I can explain. One time we met in pairs so that I could explain to a friend from class, about an English class that he didn’t understand. I could help my family or friends, explaining things that they couldn’t understand.
— I am a good student and I like to help my friends so that they can continue with their studies well. Being a good student I want to become a doctor and help many people with illnesses to cure them and so that they can continue on in their lives.
I say goodbye with a big hug and a kiss, dear Christa. I will see you this year.
Signed: Sua Abigail Cheves Castillo
With Sua’s gentle and serious but sweet and fun-loving nature, we have no doubt she will be an excellent doctor.
Our contact Ashley, who has been living just for the past year in New York state, returned to El Sauce for a visit in March and brought along presents from Christa for the girls. She was able to meet with all the girls at Marina’s house and she took lots of great pictures. Sua is doing so well in school. She said in her recent letter that she’d like to learn English, so Christa sent her a book to help.
Sua did so well in school for the first semester that she was chosen to participate in this year’s September parade as part of the Vanguard, the highest achievers. We got a wonderful picture of her from Ashley. She is growing up so fast!
Sua did fantastic in school this year. She ended the school year with an average of 90%, and next year she heads off to high school! We are really excited to see where she goes from here. She has been saying all along she wants to be a doctor, and with grades and study habits like these, she has a great shot at it.
“Hello Christa, how are you, and also I want to send greetings to the family that is donating for me to be able to accomplish my dream that I have had of becoming a person with technical knowledge to be able to help my family and society. Christa and my benefactors, I wish you a new year with good health, work and always with help to aid me with my studies.
This year, Christa, the thing I liked the most was when you helped me to continue with my studies with all the materials, without which I would not have been able to study. Without your help I would not have been able to pass my grade and also I like it that because of your help I became a cumplidora this year. I had trouble studying for my exam in natural sciences.
Next year, I would like to be the best student, participate in the folk dancing, be a member of the soccer team, help my friends on the other team, to do something that I haven’t yet, I would like to learn English.
The things I have learned this year that I can put into practice are to, for example: help the elderly cross the street, respect people older than me, honor my parents, etc.
I would like to accomplish, with the help of my benefactors and Christa the long-term goal of having a professional career as a doctor. Being the first in my family, me being a doctor would serve the people that most need it, and with that I would have enough funds that my family can live a dignified life.
I say goodbye to you, Christa, and to my benefactors and I hope that with your help I can accomplish all my goals.
Sincerely, Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo
End of the year, 2014″
Sua is doing very well in school, and easily passed to her last year of primary school. She still loves math, still wants to be a doctor, and is very excited about getting to secondary school in two years. She has such a lovely smile and is obviously very close to her mother and two sisters, and wants very much to be able to take care of them.
Sua’s end of the year letter to us was very sweet. She and Alondra wrote them together and it’s clear they like to draw!
“This letter is for all my donors. Hello, my name is Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo. The reason for writing this little letter to my donors is that more than anything i feel very grateful to God especially for all of you. I hope that you continue helping all of the poor children who have the desire to achieve their dreams of what they want to be, like I have the dream of becoming a doctor. My favorite class is math.
My family asks God to bestow many blessings on all the donors. In my house I live very happily with my parents and my two little sisters. I have three pets. I wish all the donors a Merry Christmas and a prosperous new year in 2014.
See you soon, goodbye: Sua Abigail Chevez Castillo. And may God bless you. I take this opportunity to pray to send you a hearty greeting, hug and kisses.” Thank you, Sua. We send the same back to you!
Videos from December 2013
Sua took us on a tour of her house, and also participated in an interview about her life and school with Alondra (who lives across the street). Ashely helped us do the interview and translate for the non-Spanish speakers in the audience. Sua and Alondra started out kind of shy, but we think they did a great job, and we’re glad you can meet them!