Today’s Determination Builds Tomorrow’s Doctora

In this new year, we give thanks for your support and are pleased to highlight the challenges and successes of one of our new scholarship students, a determined young woman, who we will call “Mariela”.  We give thanks to the drive and determination that this young woman demonstrates to her academics – and it is our good fortune to be able to meet her and help support her education.

“Mariela” is 14 years old and has just completed her 7th grade courses at a Colegio (high school) in San Ramon, Costa Rica.  The transition from elementary school into 7th grade in high school has been challenging for her, as it is for most students when moving into a larger student population where distractions are everywhere, courses are more rigorous, and the expectations are high.

However, “Mariela” entered the CAA scholarship program in 2017 based on a nomination from the high school that she needed assistance. ” Mariela” has been especially challenged because she is managing the transition to high school while dealing with two serious medial conditions: a heart defect that required surgery a few years ago, and a chronic immune system condition, systematic Lupus (erythematosus).  Her symptoms of fatigue, fever, weight loss, arthritis, and skin lesions were diagnosed as Lupus in 2010, and “Mariela” struggled to maintain her focus on her studies while enduring the many symptoms of the condition.  With the support of her mother, a single parent, “Mariela” has persevered to achieve an 84.3 grade point average for the 2017 school year, only 1.7 points lower than her 6th grade average.

“Mariela’s” academic grades, while not as high as she would like, are remarkable.  When diagnosed with Lupus, her doctors advised her to withdraw from regular classes in school because of the care and absences that would be required to manage her disease. Despite the doctor’s recommendations, “Mariela” has chosen to stay in regular classes rather than move into an alternate curriculum track.  And, despite the challenges of her condition, “Mariela” is maintaining good grades, and is looking forward to the Christmas holidays, and the 2018 school year.  “Mariela” has set her future career goals high – she hopes to be able to earn the grades to allow her to enter university and a Doctora of Forensic Medicine.

This student needs our help to continue with her studies and fulfill her dreams.  “Mariela”s experience is but one example of the power of education to change lives, to provide direction when otherwise challenged, and to channel the motivation of this very determined young women to dream forward to a more secure future.

The support of our generous donors through Education Equals Hope, Inc., and our volunteers and donors in Costa Rica, makes it possible for us to assist this delightful and focused young student, and 23 others who hope to follow the path of education to lead them out of poverty.

You can give hope to children like Mariela.  Please SUPPORT E=H and DONATE.


______________________________ __________
Story facts provided by: Yuliana Vasquez Pacheco, University Scholarship Intern; Authored by Scott McAnally, Chair, Education Committee, Community Action Alliance

Miguel first heard about Casa Gabriel when he was 14 years old. He and his younger brother Jesus were living on the streets after having run away from a group home several times. They had learned to prefer to live on their own on the streets: they’d been doing it since they were small children.

When Miguel was an infant his mother became a drug dealer to help make ends meet financially for herself and her seven children. She was taken to prison and her younger children were sent to group homes. Upon being released she gathered her children back and tried making a go of it, but desperate for income she sent her kids out on the street to “work” selling and singing Miguel was around 5 years old.  The kids would bring home what they could to help out, but it was never enough for Miguel’s Mom or step-father. Soon they realized it was better for them to spend more and more time on the street and not coming home to be met by their step-dads fists and kicks.  Miguel and Jesus made friends with other street boys and soon discovered, at the age of 7, that they could fend for themselves just fine out on the streets, so they went home less and less.

One day Miguel and Jesus were at a soup kitchen run by a local church and heard about Casa Gabriel from another boy. Jesus was interested and wanted to go check it out but Miguel didn’t want anything to do with it, he was fine on his own and had been hurt enough by group homes and adults.  Jesus came to visit and loved it. He told the staff about his brother Miguel. Finally, Miguel came to visit: however he had a big chip on his shoulder from the start.

“He was a very hard kid for many years”, states the Director Phil Douce. Miguel had a very difficult time trusting anyone and did not do well with discipline or limits, taking them as rejection or that someone was intentionally trying to hurt him. At several points the staff could not take any more and had decided to ask Miguel to leave the program. On these occasions his younger brother Jesus said that if his brother had to leave he would leave also. So the staff tried again, and again. They had been told by his school psychologist that Miguel had a mental delay and would never graduate from high school. Many times the staff would pray for this young, angry boy and would come up with yet more strategies to try and show love, respect and service to him. Little by little Miguel started to gain trust and developed a strong love of learning and doing well in school. Finally, instead of him being the “dummy” in the class, his classmates would ask him how to do the work. Along with much patience, love and work, Miguel started to thrive. He became one of the most dedicated and self-motivated boys in the house when it came to school.

Not only did Miguel graduate from high school, he graduated with honors. Immediately after graduating, he enrolled in culinary school, following his love of cooking and his dream of becoming a chef and maybe opening his own restaurant one day. As Miguel continues to study, he comes to Casa Gabriel three times a week to cook lunches for the other boys. He is paid for this work, which he uses to pay for his current school costs and also gives him a chance to keep practicing his cooking in a place where he is deeply cared for. The staff continues to pour out love and support to Miguel, as does his mother, who fervently prays over her sons. It is an honor to walk beside young men such as Miguel, who have embraced a love of learning because of the doors it opens for their futures.