Hello everyone, and happy end of 2023! We hope you have had wonderful holidays with your friends, families, and loved ones. We’ve received some fantastic gifts for the holidays, in the form of so much good news from our students! We are in the process of updating their pages, but you can keep checking on them and new photos, letters, and information is appearing daily.
Meghan and Christa were able to go to Nicaragua in early December, where they visited with our students there and helped celebrate Michel‘s graduation from the university! Michel now has a bachelor’s degree in primary school education and we couldn’t be prouder. She worked so hard, had to leave school to support her father medically, and overcame all kinds of challenges, and here she is! her parents are really proud and a little befuddled, we think. They just don’t know what to make of it all. Please check out her page for some wonderful photos of her graduation, and a wonderful day that Meghan and Christa had with Michel in Leon, helping her buy a dress, get her nails done, and generally have a Girls’ Day Out.
All the girls in El Sauce are doing well. Our one piece of sad news is that Odalis, after 10 years in the program, will no longer be receiving a scholarship. In August of this year, her mother took her out of school, saying she was wasting her time and that she needed to work. Our contact Marina tried to talk her out of it, but Odalis wants to do what her mother wants. We certainly understand the need to work to support the family, but it is still heartbreaking that she was only slightly over a year away from graduating from high school, which would have given her so many more options.
However, so much more is happening that makes it hard to focus on the sad things! Again, please check out their pages, but here are some highlights:
In addition to Michel graduating from the university, Valentina in Guatemala graduated from 6th grade and will be starting secondary school! She was the flag bearer at her graduation, and we are awed to learn that she was the valedictorian again, making it SIX years in a row! There are some wonderful photos on her page.
In Uganda, Naomi has finished her Form 5 year and heads to her last year of secondary school! We will be communicating with her in the coming year to find out what it is she would like to do after secondary school.
in Nicaragua, Raquel finished her third year of secondary school, and Emili her first – both in fine style. Belen is heading for her third year of the university, and Tatiana will be studying accounting at a technical college in El Sauce.
Elizabeth is done with her university classes! She still has to do a year of internado (interneship or practicum), and then a year of her work for the state. But she’s done with classwork and could not be happier (although she did love it).
Karina has been working for the tourism and development office of the city, and she’s been (overly) busy, traveling all over the region to promote El Sauce. She’s really good at her work, and it is clear that she learned a lot from her university degree; her business, Entre Pinos y Veredas, is doing so well! They have really expanded it, they have a presence on social media, and they are welcoming many tourists from Nicaragua! We were so impressed with the location and what they’ve done to it; definitely check out the photos on her page of the website.
We have a new student! Krisbell Liseth Sevilla Sanchez is 9 years old and going into 4th grade. Meghan and Christa met with her and her mother a few times and were really impressed both with Krisbell and her grades, but also with her mother’s dedication to making sure her daughter studies and does well. Please check out her new page to see photos and learn more about her.
While in Nicaragua, we pondered the fact that we’ve known some of these young women for more than a decade. We’ve watched them grow from adorable girls to lovely young women, dedicated to their educations and their futures. They have ideas and passion, and we are so honored to know them and to be able to help.
Which—again—would not be possible without your help. We are so very grateful for your trust in us, and that you believe in what we are doing. It’s always sad when we lose a scholarship recipient for whatever reason, but seeing the successes of these young women in Nicaragua, Honduras, Nepal, Guatemala, Haiti, and elsewhere makes all the rest of it worthwhile. Thanks for being on this journey with us!
At some point in the beginning of the year, we’ll send out our annual report, so stay tuned for that. And—as ever—if you know someone who thinks that celebrating and supporting women’s education is important, pass along our information!
Happy holidays and here’s to a peaceful and joyful 2024, during which all people can live lives of meaning and purpose, and care for their families and our planet.
Birgit, Christa, Janeece, Leslie, and Meghan