In February, Common Hope began work in our newest community. We have formed partnerships with 157 families in the village of San Miguel Milpas Altas. On the morning of Sunday, February 27, the newly affiliated families came to the public elementary school to learn in detail about Common Hope. Staff gathered families in small groups and explained our mission and programs. Sponsorship staff explained what sponsorship is about and how the program works. After receiving all the necessary information, students received their bags of school supplies for the 2011 school year.
Getting to know the community
Our staff are getting to know the particulars of the community, its needs, and its individual community members. Health care is a major need for the community, says Rosi Ramos, sponsorship director. The community has a governmental health post, but it is open only once a month. Families usually need to go all the way to the public hospital in Antigua, which is about 20 minutes away if traveling by car, which families do not have. There is a clinic in Magdalena, the closest town, but it offers just 10 spaces each day for clinic visits, so families are often turned away. Common Hope will work with a local health NGO to provide more regular service.
In the weeks before the February 27 info session, Common Hope social workers conducted brief interviews with families to gauge their need for the program and their commitment to education. Several days after that, a staff person made a home visit to confirm the living situation and talk with the family about the services we provide. If the family still wanted services and the staff confirmed that they needed assistance, the family was invited to the final meeting on February 27 where they received the full description of Common Hope’s services and expectations, and the children were affiliated for sponsorship.
A partnership in education, and a better life
As with all Common Hope family partnerships, when families join Common Hope, the parents agree to keep their child in school in exchange for access to our programs. Common Hope will cover educational expenses like school supplies and tuition, and the family also gains access to affordable health care, opportunities to earn better housing, and the regular support of a social worker to guide a family toward their goals of a better life.