For many who call the slums home, having money to feed their families takes precedence above all else. Children are enrolled in schools, but if money gets tight, children are kept home and asked to work alongside their fathers. These tough decisions aren’t made to intentionally keep children from their education.
A young man in the Strong Families Program, now 18-years old, attended an English-medium school (English was an integral part of their learning schedule.) After a while, his father didn’t have consistent funding and chose to take his son to work with him instead to pick rags for extra money.
Back2Back staff, who advocate on behalf of the children they serve, realized the young man wasn’t attending school as often as he should, and initiated an intentional conversation with the family. “We wanted them to recognize the opportunity this was both for their child and their family,” explained Back2Back staff. “We encouraged the parents to prioritize education.”
In his earlier school days, being in and out of classes didn’t help the young man’s focus, and lowered his drive to do well in the classroom. After encouragement from sponsors and the advocacy of staff and safe adults around him, he saw school as a chance at something different than what he’d known his whole life.
He returned to the English-medium school and sees the challenge as a chance to prove himself. He is actively engaged and working hard in the classroom. When school went virtual in response to the pandemic, he used his down time to get his license and drive a garbage truck, helping his family.
His dedication and the support of those around him has paid off as he is now a part of the Hope Education Program, alongside three other young men who call the slums home. He helps his family when he can, but knows his education takes priority, paving a new path for them all.
This is the power of sponsorship and advocacy from all around the world – young men and women realizing there is always a new path to take and their own determination and grit will get them there.