“Go to school,” my mother, Rosario, used to tell me when I was a little girl, “because when I was younger, I never had the chance to go. I want your life to be different.”
I live in a rural community in Nicaragua — a quiet place where most adults now work as street vendors or in agriculture. When my mother was a child, our community was much smaller. To provide for their families amid rampant poverty, parents commonly overlooked education.
When my mother was 13, she would take her mother’s hand and walk to the main road in the community, where they would collect tin and plastic scraps to sell. My mother always tried to understand the sacrifices that my grandmother made for them to survive.
“She was a single mother, and half of the time we were alone,” she told me. “My mother didn’t go to school either. Her parents couldn’t afford it. So, whenever I asked her if we could go to school, she would tell me that it wasn’t important because we needed to work to get enough food on the table.”
My mother’s story is not unique. Children living in poverty face obstacles to education such as hunger, disabilities and cultural constraints every day that prevent them from going to school.
The Start of Change
Even though my mother didn’t have the opportunity as a child to learn how to read or write, she was determined to give me the chance to have a different life.
When I was a little girl, she would take me to school and ask the teachers to explain to her the basic lessons so she could help me with my homework. But as I continued growing and my classes became more complex, my mother was unable to help me.
It was then that a tutor, Marjali, came to talk to us about the new initiative starting at a local church — Compassion’s Child Sponsorship Program.
My mother was so excited. Her words to me are engraved in my heart: “This will be a good opportunity for you to acquire more knowledge about the Bible, Crisli. They will also help you with your schoolwork, so let’s register you in the program!”
I was 7 years old when I started going to the Compassion center, and I was so happy to learn about the Word of God.
To our surprise, before the school year started, the center gathered our parents and told them that they would be giving us each a school bag, along with notebooks, pencils, shoes and a school uniform. For my mother, that was an unexpected blessing.