Child Sponsorship: Life After Graduation

Tulancingo is located in a semidesert valley in central México. The view is beautiful and green with big cactus trees standing on the horizon.

The area of Tulancingo holds great history from the ancient Toltec and Otomi cultures. Although the inhabitants are mostly dedicated to farming and agriculture, a few other industries are also in the community. Their major products are dairy, meat, maize, barley and vegetables.

Tulancingo is the community where Proyecto Hormiga has worked with the support of Compassion México for more than 10 years now. They serve nearly 170 children from the community and have raised many children in their classrooms.

Most of the children here come from families with single moms or with parents who work either on the farm, as masons or in the nearby fields. The salaries are too small and the money earned to support the families is not enough.

The Compassion program has been a real blessing in the lives of these children; for most of them it means the opportunity to study beyond elementary school.

In the last year the student center graduated 15 teenagers in two different ceremonies where all families, children and staff recognized the success of these youngsters who have been considered “the pride of the program.”

We interviewed and visited some of them in their new activities. Most are studying for a high school education with a vocational orientation to graduate with a technician degree in the different areas of study they have chosen. Some others are in high school or even at the state university.

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These youngsters prove the Compassion development model through sponsorship and the church works here!

Zeydi is one of the most outstanding graduates from the program. She is 18 years old and got into the technological institute from Pachuca, the capital city of the state of Hidalgo. The school she chose is one of the best in the state. Many students apply there but only a fraction get selected.

Zeydi is studying civil engineering. She has already faced challenges with her teachers and professors who do not follow the values she has learned, and she is committed to her studies.

She dreams about building great bridges, tunnels and other great construction projects for the city, state or even for the country, but she knows it will not be easy for her. She is very much interested in physics and mechanics.

Zeydi had to move to a rented place she shares with her cousin and a friend to be able to attend school. The school is actually far from her home and she needed to relocate.

Maria, best known as Lupita, is 17 and is already in her second year of high school in nursing studies. She always dreamed of being a nurse.

She dreams about getting a good job in obstetrics helping mothers deliver or taking care of newborns because she thinks babies are the most wonderful creations.

Her favorite class has been studying all about pregnancy because she is fascinated by it.

“I love seeing babies and learning about their growth in the womb,” she says.

Lupita lives with three older siblings, two sisters and a male brother who works as a mason, and her mother who was left single some years ago.

Keny is 18 and is not in school but is saving all she can to get into school next year. She and her mother were abandoned by her father when she was a little girl. Now they sell homemade tamales to live on and to start saving for her future education.

She would like to become a physical education teacher because she once had severe health problems that were overcome with lots of exercise and by keeping a strict diet. Then she decided to do something to share what she now knows to help others.

Denisse is currently 17 and in high school. She likes to practice tae kwon do and she likes science. She enjoys biology, math and chemistry classes the best, and dreams about opening a cosmetology shop.

When not at school, Denisse can be found practicing tae kwon do or at the Internet café talking online with friends.

She lives with her mom and dad and has an older brother who had to leave the family to find a better life opportunity.

Omar is 17 years old now and works with his older brother as a mason. He wants to study electricity to get a better job. School starts next December.

As a younger student in junior high, he always enjoyed the electricity workshop, and ever since he decided that was going to be his path.

Omar lives with his family — his father, mother and two other siblings — an older brother and a younger sister who attends the student center.

he used to think about not attending school any further than elementary school, but his teachers and leaders at the student center challenged him to finish high school, and he did.

“If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t be the same I am now. I know for sure I would have dropped school.”

Jorge is 18 and very happy because he just got his registration for college to study a career in administration and entrepreneurship. He wants to start a small business. His favorite class is math, and he also likes to play sports, especially football.

He lives with his parents and six siblings. His father is a mason and his mother runs the home.

“If it wasn’t for the student center program I could not get to be what I am or what I aspire to be,” he says.

Once, in high school, he was about to quit because he did not have enough money to pay for his studies. The student center provided the resources to cover his education fees.

Before attending the student center, Jorge used to spend entire days on video games. He only needed two pesos to start his game and would not end it until the shop closed.

“Many times I had to sneak home at night, I did not go to school or eat because I spent all many days there,” he say. “But the pastor would make me come to church and would make me come to the program. But now I graduated and I am proud of it.”

Esmeralda is 19 and starting her university studies in agro-industrial engineering. She is studying at the state university and dreams about starting a dairy business to sell yogurt and cheese internationally.

From school she specially enjoys chemistry because she likes the formulas and the reactions the elements make together. Besides school, she likes to read, listen to music and get together with all her friends.

Enedina is a 17-year-old girl who aspires to become a nurse. She is studying in her third semester, and although she still has a long way to go in terms of her studies, she has found the support of an older cousin who is already a nurse and has committed herself to helping her complete her studies.

Her dream is to become a forensic investigator nurse, and she loves the computer classes. Her siblings are all older than her, and her mother is currently working as a cook at a small restaurant.

Elizabeth is a 17-year-old who studies at the vocational high school. She just started a couple of weeks ago, but she dreams of becoming a professional nurse just as her former sponsor from Canada is.

Elizabeth dreams of working at the pediatric hospital in Tulancingo, which treats children from all the surrounding communities.

During the time she was registered at the student center, she was very happy to hear about the work her sponsor did as a nurse and that inspired her to pursue this career.

She got into a high school that offers vocational training on nursing, and although she has to travel 40 minutes by public transportation every afternoon to school, she won’t waste this opportunity.

Her father works as a mason and is highly committed to work hard and make enough for her to go to school and to pay for her school materials.

As a hobby, she enjoys playing with her younger brother and caring for him. She is part of the youth group at church and enjoys talking to her friends. Her favorite class is reading.

14 Comments |Add a comment

  1. Avatar
    annabelle February 23, 2011

    wow, even though many of these kids do not make it to high school, it sounds like they are far better prepared for “the real world” than American students. I was 16 when I completed high school and I was not formally taught any vocational skills. Almost everything I know about domestic duties (which are my current vocation [nanny] and my aspiration [to stay home once I have kids]) was due to my extracurricular activities, time with family, and practice in my jobs. I believe life skills are more important than a certificate/diploma, etc. That is not to say education is without value, but it is not the most important thing

  2. Avatar
    Vicki Small November 2, 2009

    Linda, I have seen stories, both here and in other Compassion publications, of other formerly-sponsored children who have been released from poverty through Compassion’s ministry and are making a difference in their communities–without going on to college. Some use the skills and knowledge they have gained in a trade to start their own businesses. Of those businesses, at least some of them do so well that employees are added–helping others to get out of poverty.

    We hear a lot about LDP students and graduates, and no, not all of them go into the areas you mentioned. One thing I really like about LDP is that it is not limited to students going into a narrow range of fields.

    The fact is that the program works, both for the few who go on to university and for those who do not. Stick around–or go into the archives of this blog and read some of the posts about graduates of the sponsorship program. They’re so uplifting!

  3. Avatar
    Linda November 1, 2009

    I have a question:

    I have just started sponsoring a 4 yr old girl so I don’t know anything about life in/out of college. It seems that the only ones who get any attention are the ones in the scientific fields. All of them can’t go on to become engineers or doctors, etc. What about the ones (and I am sure there are some) who don’t go on to school or aspire to be something that “grand”. Are only a certain class of people given the attention and the others looked down on?

  4. Avatar
    Vicki Small October 20, 2009

    Thank you for the information, Chris. I’ll be armed, should any sponsor or potential sponsor ask about Mexico.

  5. Avatar
    Cesiah Magana October 20, 2009

    Vicki and Sara –

    The maximum completion age for the sponsorship program in Mexico is 18.

    The leadership of the program at each development center has a close relationship with all the children registered with them and monitors children completing their program. All the children in this group were candidates to graduate because they completed the requirements of the program.

    The youngsters were interviewed to ensure they have reached the outcomes appropriate to their age and the goals set for the children registered in our programs. Then the church planned a graduation ceremony and since they were grouped together most were only 17 and the oldest was then about to become 18.

    Although it seems sad not all sponsorship program graduates get into high school. Depending on their circumstances some might just start working before they finish high school and Compassion ensures they have the skills to earn a living.

    According to the organization for economic co operation and development (OECD) only 50% of youngsters in Mexico between the ages of 16 and 18 have access to education. Half of them are not able to make it into high school some due to economic situation, some due to lack of opportunities like not having a high school close in their town and some because they just look for job opportunities instead of education.

    Although Compassion Mexico does not have an exact percentage of youngsters attending high school we estimate 30% of our registered children have the opportunity to make it.

    Although the reality is not all of our graduates complete high school, they are still considered successful if they are able to:

    1 Demonstrate commitment to the lordship of Christ

    2 Choose good health practices and is physically healthy

    3 Exhibit the motivation and skills to be economically self-supporting

    4 Interact with other people in a healthy and compassionate manner

    Finally in regards to the vocational skills students learn, it depends on the development center they are registered in, because each center designs the workshops according to the area of opportunities they have in their community and according to their possibilities.

    The most popular activities we know are carpentry, woodcarving, bakery, hairdressing, cooking, dressmaking, blacksmithing, electricity, handcrafts local to the area like hammock making, pottery or others, etc.

  6. Avatar
    Sherry October 19, 2009

    I have become a member of Compassion’s new website called our compassion. I found 4 other children and their sponsors who are at my child’s Child Center. It is a great website. Check it out:

  7. Avatar
    Vicki Small October 16, 2009

    Ahem. A simple “Thanks, Chris” is too short for this program. I guess I could have just repeated it. :o)

  8. Avatar
    Chris Giovagnoni October 16, 2009

    Vicki and Sara,

    I’ve asked Cesiah to answer your questions.

  9. Avatar
    Vicki Small October 16, 2009

    I am also surprised that these students had graduated from the program, already. Some of them are not even 18 years old, and most have not completed high school; some haven’t even begun it. So can you provide answers to these questions, pretty please?

    Why are the students deemed ready to graduate before they complete high school?

    Approximately what percentage are not able to go on to high school, because they have graduated from the program?

    What skills have they been able to learn before they finish high school that will provide for them and their families?

  10. Avatar
    Jeanette October 13, 2009

    I had a child who graduated from the program.. I do not know what she is doing now but I know she became a preschool teacher. She wanted to be a nurse but her academics were not high enough. I appreciate the fact that Compassion works with those unable to go further in school and helps them find a good vocation.

  11. Avatar
    Amy Wallace October 10, 2009

    It was so ecnouraging to read all of these teenagers’ stories – keep up the good work!

  12. Avatar
    Sara Benson October 9, 2009

    Thank you for showing us what these students are doing after they graduate! We often hear about the LDP but it is nice to see what happens with some of the students who do not do the program.

    I was supprised to see the ages of some of these students who had graduated. What is the graduation age for the Copmassion program in Mexico?

  13. Avatar
    Mike Stephens October 8, 2009

    Great to hear of their perseverence!!!!!!! A man named Don gave me a ride home today b/c I was riding my bicycle in snow. He said “God is with YOU!!!!” It was very encouraging to say the least.

  14. Avatar
    Pat D. October 8, 2009

    I was sad to learn many children lost their sponsors, often more than once. I decided to sponsor older children because at 71 years old I wanted to see them through to graduation and to encourage children who lost sponsors. It turns out that their loving messages to me probably gives me more of a blessing than I am to them. I hope I can continue to help them after graduation if possible.

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