The privilege of sponsoring a child

by Carole Jones, Sponsor

This July, Carole visited Yolanda, the young woman she sponsors through Common Hope in Antigua, Guatemala. Below is her description and reflection on her visit. Carole is a retired teacher from Yucaipa, CA.

We walk past colonial ruins to get to Yoli’s door. The dirt walkway leading toward the house is uneven, and I use my cane to stabilize myself. A table and four chairs await our arrival on the dirt floor patio, as do Yoli’s mom and dad. The family’s social worker from Common Hope guides us to sit down.

Yolanda

Carole's sponsored student, Yolanda.

I am reminded of the material abundance in my life, and the contrast is stark. Yolanda’s sisters leave to go sell homemade food in town. Everyone pitches in to make ends come close to meeting. Yolanda tells me she is doing better in school this year — it is her first year in high school. She has chosen business administration as her course of study. It’s not easy, she tells me, but she wants to continue in school. Her parents nod in agreement. They serve us Coca-Cola but don’t take any for themselves.

Last year, Yoli almost threw in the towel. However, she was encouraged by her Common Hope social worker to make up her needed credits with tutoring help at the Common Hope Development Center. So many girls drop out of school after finishing junior high or even elementary  school. Yet Yoli is being mentored by those who work at and volunteer for Common Hope.

I am reminded of the privilege it is to sponsor a child. So much is done with such limited funds. For only $30 per month for a shared sponsorship, or $60 per month for a lead sponsorship, I get to see a family join together with me through Common Hope to encourage a child through school. The focus and goal is to break the cycle of poverty. One of the roots of poverty in Guatemala is illiteracy and lack of formal education, and through sponsorship, impoverished children have the opportunity to go to school. They and their families have access to medical care at the Common Hope clinic, and they also can purchase a home with sweat equity. Yoli’s family has done this.

Carole and Yolanda

Carole (seated) and Yolanda (L) with Yolanda's parents and social worker.

Another thought that comes to mind as I visit Yoli is that Common Hope is not a charity.  There are no handouts. The student must attend and succeed in school. The family must support the child to attend school and do homework. If that happens, the families have access to the resources of the health clinic and in some cases, the housing program and other family development services offered at Common Hope. Human dignity is maintained. Everyone is a giver. In giving together, we all benefit.

I am blown away by the powerful model developed by Common Hope. Lives are being changed for the better each day. I get to sponsor a child, a child gets to go to school, a family improves its quality of life, and our world is a better place through this simple and meaningful process.

Last year I retired, and my income is certainly not what it used to be. And yet, I hope to continue participating in Common Hope’s work by sponsoring Yoli through high school and hopefully college. Even then, I hope to choose another child to aid through this process of formal education — so life changing and so difficult to obtain for the impoverished children of Guatemala. Taking the step to sponsor a child is also life changing for me.

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