By Paula Bohland
Sponsorship means a lot to the children attending La Escuela Integrada. In Guatemala, the children from the school are told and experience constant messages of being “less than.” Their society looks down on them because they are poor, there are people who believe that because they are indigenous they are stupid and unable to learn, and some of the children live in homes in which they are unwanted or the parents are abusive. In their world, having a sponsor who lives in a different county and prays for them, writes to them, hopes for them, provides their education and thinks of them provides a loud statement that they ARE worthy and loveable. The children call the sponsors “Padrinos,” which in Spanish means Godparent. This word has a great deal of importance in the Guatemalan culture.
Because we know that having a sponsor is so important to the children during GRACES annual planning/supporters gathering meeting, we made it a goal to have all children sponsored. Currently, we have obtained sponsors for 146 of the 165 children attending the school. This is amazing considering that four years ago, we had eight children sponsored.
When considering these facts, however, taking the perspective of the children is imperative. When 146 of 165 children attending the school have sponsors and feel celebrated by that relationship, there are 19 children who are unsponsored.
Imagine how it must feel to come to school, a place where you are told you are worthy, your education is important, and to ignore the other messages you receive about being “less than” that you hear outside of school. Then, you see your peers writing letters to their Padrinos. Many of the children even have their sponsors visit them during the summer, bringing gifts and hugs. You would ask yourself, “Is there something about me that makes me not good enough to have a sponsor?” This situation is heartbreaking and easily solved.
If you are sponsoring already, THANK YOU. Your support of the children makes a difference. PLEASE help us to get all 19 children who are unsponsored to obtain a sponsor today. If you would like to sponsor one of the children, please email Hannah@graces.org.
Paula is the Executive Director of La Escuela Integrada and a member of St. John’s. For more information about the school and/or to contribute to the food program, visit wearegraces.org.