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December 7, 2007

A Shining StarChange comes slowly. That is a wise maxim to keep at heart while working in Nicaragua, a country where one third of the population is unable to read, where one half is under the age 18, and where 350,000 children live homeless in the streets. Here, because of the tremendous work to be done, change comes in small halting steps.

It is difficult to grasp the incremental effect of these halting strides. Sometimes it can seem as if nothing is changing at all, as if each step forward brings another back. Perhaps the landscape is too large. It is easier to understand change on a human scale, by looking at one person, at one bright success – or in this case, two.

Margarita Arróliga, 17, will be the first in her family to go to college. Her brother Elvis, 15, hopes to be the second. The siblings have been enrolled in EI’s programs for the last two years. It has been a hard time for their family.

“Last May, the 1st of the month, our father died from cancer,” says Margarita. “It was right in the middle of year – he was 47 years old.”

The family is small. Elvis and Margarita have an older brother. Their mother works as a maid. Despite the hardship of losing their father, the pair continued with their schooling.

“We kept on studying, we kept on fighting, trying to bring the family forward,” Margarita says. “We didn’t leave school.”

EI’s program extends far beyond the school supplies that it funds at the beginning of each semester. Those materials are only a starting point. Throughout the year, EI visits students’ homes, speaks with parents, and helps create an environment in which learning and education can take place. In the case of Margarita and her family, that sometimes means providing something far more important than a new backpack or a pair of shoes. It can mean simple friendship and support.

“I think that it was a real motivation for me, knowing that there was someone, that there was someone worried about me and my family,” Margarita says. “I’m so happy. I’m the triumph of my family now.”

Next year, Margarita will begin studying systems engineering at university on an EI scholarship. She will also work in the EI office part time.

Elvis has also taken advantage of all that EI has to offer. He was a member of Samantha’s photography class earlier this summer.

“I learned so many things,” he says. “How to take photos, how to use a camera, how to edit them on the computer. Photography, for me, it’s like the other half of my person.”

Thanks to a recent donation, there are more cameras on hand for students to learn with. As Elvis progresses, he may teach a photography class himself, showing the basics to other students eager to learn.

“I’m not an expert, but I think I’m coming along,” he says. “I’m going to continue taking advantage of the opportunity as much as I’m able.”

Little by little, change comes to Nicaragua, one opportunity at a time.

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never make it to 5th grade. It is our goal to make this percentage drop significantly.

$30/month is what it takes us at Empowerment International to put a child in school. If you would like to help a child stay in school and get better life, please click on the link below or contact us

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