Pedro is a total disaster as a patient. He has diabetes. He eats whatever he wants – the more sugar the better – and does not take his medicines, despite being given them for free. Yet, he persists in attending the health centre complaining of ever increasing weakness, poor eye sight and recurrent infections.
He is the father of 8 children. His eldest daughter completed primary school, then moved away to find work. His eldest son is happy to swing a machete in the fields during the week and to drink his earnings away at the weekend. So, when his next son, Jorge, on finishing primary school asked me for a sponsor so that he could attend secondary school, I was not convinced he was going to stick at it. I turned him down in favour of another child.
Jorge, then aged 12, did not go to secondary school that year. He worked in the fields, and helped to support his younger brothers and sisters. The following year he came to ask me for a sponsor again. He said he wanted to learn to be a mechanic. This time I decided to give him the chance to prove himself. Delighted, Jorge began studying again.
Four years on, I am so pleased that I changed my mind.
Deciding which children to help is one of the most difficult parts of the sponsorship programme. We try to look for the poorest, those least able to help themselves. We also want them to be those who will make the most of the opportunity to study. Often that is a difficult judgement call to make.
Jorge completed his first three years of secondary school without having to do a resit, despite his father´s ever worsening health. This year, as his father is now unable to work much, Jorge enrolled in a mechanic´s course. He attends the course at weekends, which means he can work to help support his family during the week. He also has several assignments to complete for his studies each week. I admire his determination and hard work, and pray he will achieve his goal of having a profession to work in.
This year we have 130 students receiving help for their education through sponsors. I continue to pray for wisdom to know which new students to take on, as more sponsors come forward.