Love & Hope Children’s Home recently celebrated the most exciting part of any child’s year: vacation! The Salvadoran school year begins in mid-January and ends in mid-November. We’ve made it and the kids are buzzing (the adults too). We were ready for the break. But supporting 20-plus children means Love & Hope also has to get an early jump on the 2015 school year. We’ve already started the registration process, paid fees and begun gathering the supplies that our kids will need. As Love & Hope prepares for our 2014 Education Fundraiser, we thought we’d take a minute to describe what it takes to get through a school year in our ministry.
During the school year, Love & Hope comes alive at about 4:30am. The tia or tio in charge of breakfast rubs the sleepiness out of their eyes and heads to the kitchen. Meanwhile, the Love & Hope kids take turns showering to get ready for breakfast and devotions at 5:30am. By 6:15, everyone is packed into the microbus, book bags at their feet, poster boards and projects on their laps. Alberto, our driver, made four stops every morning in 2014 to get the kids to their respective schools (we have done our best to match each child with a school environment that best suits their needs). If there is no unexpected traffic, everyone makes it on time.
At noon, Alberto leaves again for pick-ups and by 1:45pm, the kids are home. They change their clothes and eat lunch (they ate a snack at school and on the way home). It is rare that all of the kids are home at one time after school. Many of them are involved in activities outside Love & Hope Children’s Home like soccer, horseback riding and French class. Sometimes they have a medical appointment scheduled.
At 2:30pm, we start homework. Everyone sits down in the dining room to work. We put on some music to make the atmosphere a little more relaxed. Shortly after sitting down, the kids start to call out, “Suzana! Kirsten!” Suzana and Kirsten spend every afternoon supporting the caregivers during homework time and the kids are quite demanding of them: “Kirsten, can you put the password in the computer?” “Suzana, I need posterboard.” “Kirsten, my pen exploded!” “Suzana, can you help me with English homework?” The caregivers, Suzana, and Kirsten spend the afternoon going from child to child, checking their assignment books and making sure their homework is done. As in any household, getting homework done or studying for tests is not always an easy task. Sometimes the kids don’t want to do it, and sometimes they claim not to have anything to do. We try our best to make sure everyone is busy and has the support they need.
Around 4:00pm, someone yells, “HORA DE REFRIGERIO!” “SNACK TIME!” Finished with homework or not, the kids all run to the kitchen for a snack. At this time, some of the kids begin receiving one-on-one tutoring with Kirsten or Suzana. We also have a speech therapist that comes to the house once a week to give attention to several children.
Finding, handing out and buying supplies are another huge part of the school routine. The kids start the school year with everything they need for class. But every day, they come home needing materials to complete projects and homework: permanent markers, glue guns, science tools, art supplies, novels, food to share at school, poster board, huge sheets of Styrofoam, yarn, glitter, photos, clay, foamy, costumes, construction paper, file folders. You name it, we’ve probably provided it for a school assignment (once we sent two whole fish to school for a dissection…seriously). Providing supplies and completing projects for one or two children can be complicated; we are doing it for about 20! Sometimes it is difficult to keep it all organized, but we’ve found that a running “request” list outside the office does the trick.
If all goes as planned, the kids are usually all done with homework by dinner time. After that, they are allowed to watch T.V. or play video-games for an hour before bed if they’ve completed their tasks for the day and have behaved well. By 8:00pm, everyone is pretty exhausted. Bed time isn’t long after as it all starts again at 4:30am the next morning.
For Gloria, Kirsten and Suzana, the evenings and Saturday mornings are also sometimes occasion to go to the schools for parent meetings, parent’s “school” and grades pick-up. There were many mornings this year where Gloria and Kirsten spoke with teachers personally or via email to discuss and resolve issues our kids experienced at school. We also have attended countless talent shows, concerts, sports days, science fairs, family days, etc., in the evenings and on the weekends. There is always something happening at the schools.
Can you see why we’re excited to end the school year and have a vacation in November? We think the kids (and adults!) have earned it.
Love & Hope is able to provide our children with quality, private education thanks to generous donors. This year, we saw many of our children improve, gain confidence and look forward to going to the right school. Without your support, this would be impossible. Love & Hope Children’s Home is already raising money for the 2015 school year, because we know that a good education can mean the difference between a life of sustenance and a life of success. Learn more and support our 2015 education fund by clicking here.