Posts Tagged ‘school’

The Privilege of an Education, by Matt & Julie Cooper

May 16, 2011

Chave (Isabel), Mari and Sofia sitting in their classroom at school

The privilege of going to school seems like a given, especially to attend kindergarten. But what if you can’t afford to send your child to kindergarten? For the kindergarten age children who live at Casa Hogar San Jose, they have to pay $10 USD a week to attend school. It doesn’t sound like much, but when you multiply it by four children, and all of the weeks they attend school, it starts to add up!

Mari, Chave, Sofia and Alexa are four little girls from Casa Hogar San Jose who are all in kindergarten. Thanks to some individuals who gave money at Christmastime through the Back2Back Christmas Catalog, and through families who are sponsoring children through Back2Back’s Shelter Program we were able to cover the majority of this bill for these four girls this year.

Last week, I accompanied the director of the home to the school to make a payment because they had gotten behind a few weeks. When I suggested we just go ahead and pay what they would owe for the rest of this school year the director was speechless. She was both overjoyed, and overwhelmed. Thank you to those of you who have given! Thank you for making it possible to bless this children’s home in this way, and thank you for blessing four little girls, whose education is one of the most important things we can give them.

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School Uniforms, by Back2Back India Staff

September 18, 2009

A friend of ours who is an American working in Hyderabad went with us to visit the children at Eternal Joy Home. As you may recall, these children received the blessing of scholarships to a private English Medium primary school this year. Most schools in India, whether government-run or private, require the children to wear a uniform specific to that school. Some uniforms are very simple; others are very elaborate and include the school emblem, a tie and belt.

The school had donated a few old used uniforms to a couple of the children at EJH but most of them were wearing their street clothes to school. You can only imagine how the kids felt at this school. Most had been set back at least a few grades since they didn’t speak much English. Their classmates came from intact families with mothers and fathers. And “the kids from the orphanage” couldn’t even afford proper uniforms. When our friend learned of the situation, he was very moved. He had grown up in a large family and attended Catholic school. As one of the younger siblings in his family, he always had hand-me-down clothes including school uniforms. He tells of the other school children making fun of him in his old outfits, which were stained and worn. Fortunately, he could defend himself but he still recalls the psychological impact of this harassment.

Our friend generously offered to provide uniforms for the children at EJH. Some of the children are at the private school;  others, who joined later, still go to the government school and a few of the special needs children are not able to attend school. We hired a tailor and bought bolts of cloth so that each child would have a set of new clothes. Once all the uniforms were complete, our friend and two of his daughters came to visit the kids and hand out the uniforms. It was a very happy day.

Receiving his new uniform

Receiving a new uniform

Against all the odds, the children are getting good marks and they enjoy school. Now, they have nice new uniforms – just like the other kids at school.  How rewarding for our friend to identify a need close to his heart and give such a meaningful gift to these children!

The ERJ children in their new uniforms

The EJH children in their new uniforms

Back to School, by Caroline Burns

August 24, 2009

School is starting up again for the children in the homes we serve here in Monterrey.  With the start of school, comes back to school shopping and new school supply lists.  For a director of a children’s home, this can be a difficult time financially.  Not only are they trying to make ends meet as kids return from summer break, but in addition, many new kids are dropped off for the first time and directors face the enormous expense of purchasing school supplies for fifty to eighty kids all at once.   I have the privilege of overseeing all of Back2Back Mexico’s donations.  Midway through our summer season, I sent a few emails out requesting school supplies in anticipation for the heavy donation needs during this back to school rush for the children’s homes.   My faith was encouraged when visiting short-term mission groups brought several hundred spiral notebooks along with other necessary school supplies items just four days after sending the request.  And I’m pleased to report that after communicating with each children’s home director for their needs, spending almost all of this past week in our donation room organizing the deliveries, and driving around Monterrey like some sort of children’s home Santa to deliver everything – everyone’s needs were met in full.

I love working with our donations because I love to see God provide for the orphan child.  Several of the homes we serve have God’s Promises to the orphan child as found in the Bible printed on the walls throughout the home and their dorm rooms.  This week, I’ve been fascinated to see Deuteronomy 10:18 which says, “He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing,” come to life right before my eyes.   I’m convinced this week more than ever of how passionate God loves the orphan child.  There is something just angelically holy about each one of these precious children – the King of Kings loves them.

In English, "God promises to give you food and clothing."

A promise to orphans from scripture is painted on the wall to remind the children of God's provision. In English it states, "God promises to give you food and clothing."

"God promises to help you," a reminder painted on the wall at one of the children's home.

"God promises to help you," a beautiful reminder for the children.

During meal times, the children are reminded of another one of God's promises to orphans found in scripture: God promises to be your Father.

During meal times, the children are reminded of another one of God's promises to orphans found in the Bible: God promises to be your Father.

Rajeshekar, by Todd Guckenberger

August 14, 2009

I spent some time today talking with the Back2Back directors of our ministry in India.  I was encouraged to hear how they are making a significant impact in a small orphanage of about twenty-two children.  The orphanage can cover the cost of rent, food and the basic needs of all twenty-two orphans for a mere 400 dollars a month.  When Back2Back considers partnering with and serving at a particular orphanage, we consider several factors.  One of the criteria for partnership is that the leaders of the children’s home must deeply value the spiritual growth and development of their children and be dedicated to providing them with the best education possible, as that is their only hope of breaking free from poverty.  The directors of the orphanages must be committed to raising children who make a positive difference in the world around them. The Back2Back field director in India described how the demeanor of the children has become more joyous since he and his wife have begun to consistently serve there alongside the orphanage director to help the home provide for the basic needs of the children.

All the children there have received a full scholarship to a local top-ranking private school, allowing them to receive an excellent education.  I was especially impressed by one particular story that they shared about a boy named Rajeshekar, who was born without hands.  He is one of the top students in his class; he is extremely bright and has an unbelievable potential to succeed academically.  But at the same time I was incredibly discouraged thinking about the fact that his school years would be the best years of his life.  In India, children born into a low-class are treated as outcasts and have to fight severe discrimination their entire lives. Those born with birth defects are even more shunned by society.  His class within the caste system, along with a serious birth defect seemed to leave him doubly disadvantaged.  I immediately commented to him that these might be the best years of his life. After all, his children’s home and school were sheltering him from the harsh reality he would likely face after graduating and leaving the orphanage.  Our director agreed.  We continued talking, discussed our role in helping children like Raj overcome the enormous odds stacked against them.  We concluded that the only way of helping those who are marginalized is to continue to create relationships and partnerships in India that provide us with opportunities to walk alongside the “least of these.”

It does not matter if it is India, Mexico, Nigeria, or another part of the world.  Regardless of location, God has called us to serve widows and orphans.  To Back2Back it is a clear commandment and call in our hearts and by His grace He will continue to lead us to the marginalized.

My prayer for Rajeshekar is that we can come alongside him and empower him to pursue the dreams and goals that God has placed in His heart.  Please pray about getting involved with this children’s home, through our ministry in India.

Below is a video of Rajeshekar learning to ride a scooter with a little encouragement from the Back2Back staff member who was filming.

Eyes Wide Open, by Hannah Cesler, Back2Back India Summer Intern

July 10, 2009

My first week interning with Back2Back India has opened my eyes. There is no way I could have been fully prepared for my initial visit to this hostel (children’s home) in rural India. I was a little nervous when we pulled up, but was instantly comforted by familiar verses painted on the walls in English and the native language, Telegu.

One of the girls in the children's home helping with meal prep

One of the girls in the children's home helping with meal prep

Upon arrival, I was given a tour of the girl’s dorm. Each room (equivalent to the size of my bedroom) is meant to house eight girls. Since the children are used to sleeping on the ground, they are somewhat able to fit in these rooms.  Some older girls came to greet us and they asked me to lead them in the song, “If you’re happy and you know it” which the kids knew even better than I did! I was especially amazed by the sanctuary. It was clean, open and bright—it made me happy to know these kids were getting the best when they were worshipping Jesus.

After we explored the girl’s side of the hostel, we went to check out a new project being started to expand the boy’s dorm. Seeing the method of construction blew my mind–hundreds of sticks were used to support the building while construction continued right on! Twice as many men were working on the building than were needed. Due to the low labor wages in India, this is not an unusual occurrence. I was just starting to pick up on the inefficiency behind a lot of what goes on in India!

Construction Workers in India

Construction Project in India

We stumbled into some of the bathrooms on the boy’s side. They looked like they hadn’t been cleaned in years and the smell was something no child should have to face every day. Apparently, this kind of cleaning is meant only for the lowest of workers in India; therefore, a bathroom will be left filthy before anyone would voluntarily take care of these duties. I started to get overwhelmed and frustrated at the reality of how much there was to do and how much I didn’t understand about this country.

It was the first day of the new school year and it seemed a bit strange to only see a couple boys running around. The classrooms were empty, both of people and of any sort of wall décor. We talked with one of the teachers who informed us that the kids take several weeks getting back to school. For those that return on time, the month of June is a bit slow as government schools typically prolong starting school until the majority of kids have returned. We learned of the efforts to fund the teachers and the cost of buying enough books for the children. It astounded me to learn that it would only take about $100/month to finance a teacher and $3/year to provide each student their textbooks!

Following the tour, we were invited into the director’s home where we were served mangoes and authentic Indian food. It was evident the difficulties due to lack of funding are only the beginning. Several factors play a role that are not so easy for the American mind to fully understand. With the majority of India being Hindu, many people find the significance of “fate” very important. In other words, if a child is orphaned or disabled, they believe it is their fate and therefore people do not feel obligated to help them. Poverty is rampant, women face oppression on a daily basis, and the people look to false gods for answers. In the Christian community, however, there is hope.

At this hostel, so many difficulties these children would be facing on the street are being avoided. With a little support these children can receive even more attention–a better education, improved facilities and the spiritual care they need to go on to do great things.

While the poor situation at this hostel was disturbing to me, I am hopeful with the direction and support of Back2Back, paired with the love of Jesus in these workers’ hearts–this place can transform! Once I got past my initial frustrations and focused on the numerous projects on the horizon, it’s easy to understand why Back2Back is called to be in India. I truly cannot wait to see what God has in mind for this hostel, the future of these children, and India!