After she was abandoned by her father, Andreí®¡ Sá®£hez was sure she would have to quit school. But through sponsorship, she has excelled in her classes and dreams of college.
Andreí¡ wakes up each morning before the sun rises. As her mother slips into the gray morning to her job as a maid, 17-year-old Andreí¡ prepares breakfast for her younger sisters. She slices the bread into thin slices, hoping it will last another day. Her movements are automatic. After 10 years of helping her single mother, Andreí®¡'s mornings are, if not easy, at least routine. But even in the drudgery, Andreí¡'s joy cannot be tamed. She knows her future is secure.
A Different Place to Turn
Andreí¡'s life is painfully common in the Dominican Republic. When Andreí¡ was 5, her father abandoned the family. They joined the 40 percent of homes in the Dominican Republic headed by single mothers.
In Cotui, the city where Andreí¡ lives, only 5 percent of teens graduate from high school. Families like Andreí¡'s struggle to survive on less than U.S.$4 a day, and children left alone with little to no adult supervision often turn to gangs and violence.
But Andreí¡ had a better place to turn. When she was 7, her mother enrolled her at the Compassion-assisted Student Center Vid Verdadera (DR-324), hoping they could provide the food, clothing and education she could not. But sponsorship provided for more than Andreí¡'s physical needs it provided a security she had never known.
"My sponsors have been with me for 10 years," says Andreí¡. "When there was nothing else, I could trust it. When my father ignored us and when my mother could not buy food, I knew that my sponsors would be there for me."
Freedom to Achieve
The consistent support of her sponsors was just the foundation Andreí®¡ needed. While most of her peers constantly wondered where their school fees would come from, Andreí¡ was free to focus on her studies. She excelled academically and became one of only 15 percent of children in her community to finish elementary school.
Now a senior in high school, Andreí¡ volunteers at the center library and tutors younger students in addition to the responsibilities she has at home. She says she just wants to be a role model for children like her, and the staff at the student center couldn't be more thankful.
"Andreí¡ is a very intelligent and responsible young girl," says Project Director Marí¡ Rodrígµez. "She attends school, helps her mother, helps the project tutors, and helps other kids write their letters. She is a blessing to all of us."
As Andreí¡'s high school graduation approaches, she is already preparing for college a dream that less than 5 percent of teens in her community achieve. But Andreí¡ knows that with God's help, she can accomplish that goal. And Andreí¡ believes that by achieving her dreams, she will teach another generation of children that God is bigger than absent fathers, abandoned children and poverty.
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