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Forced to Drop-Out: Story of Desperation and Hope

August 6, 2009

Parents try very hard to ensure that their kids do not drop out of school. But what if the situation was reversed? What would a kid do if forced by his parents to drop out of school? Read on to find what happened with Felix Pedro, a 16

Drop out of school?

Drop out of school?

year old Empowerment International student, who was asked by his parents to quit school.

One May morning, Felix came crying to the EI office. He declared sadly that he had to quit school as that was what his family wanted. His parents had been putting a lot of pressure on him lately to drop out of school and to help out with the family business. He was very confused and did not know what decision to take as he really liked going to school. He was sure his parents would not change their mind and he was so distressed that he “could not contain (his) tears”

In the office, Anielka, the Nicaraguan Director for Empowerment International talked and reasoned with Felix. Later Kathy, EI’s Executive Director, who was in USA then, also talked to him. After discussing with both of them he was convinced that dropping out of school was not a good idea. Next, Anielka immediately visited Felix’s family at their home and spoke to his parents and siblings and counseled them. She told them that Felix was a very good student and if he continued with school he could fulfill his dreams of having a good future. His family finally agreed to let him continue with his education on the condition that he attend the afternoon (instead of morning) shift from the next year. Felix now says that his parents do not push him to leave school any more and he is very happy!

While this episode in his life may seem surprising to most, there is a sad story of hardship and penury behind it.

Felix Pedro

Felix Pedro

Felix’s father is an alcoholic and his mother supports the family of 11 members. The entire family is involved in making ‘petates’ which is a floor mat made of dried reed. It is totally hand-made and organic and is used by most Nicaraguans as a floor mat, curtain and beach mat. It is sold in the market for $2 to $10 depending on the size, but the main season for sales is during the dry season. In the 6 months during the wet season there is almost no sale, leading to very low income.

Last year Felix took the afternoon shift in school for which he would get up at 4.30 AM!  He worked non-stop till 8 AM when he took a break for breakfast and then continued working till 11AM after which he would get ready and leave for school. Classes were from 1 pm to 6pm.

However, things changed this year when he started taking the morning shifts (from 7 AM to 1 Pm). For this, in his words, “I got up much later – at 5 AM!”. He was one of the few students selected by EI to attend private school and in turn he was expected to provide tutoring to younger students. So, after getting back from school he went to the EI office to help in the tutoring program. He was extremely proud to be able to help 2 kids from first grade to improve their reading and mathematics skills.  Later, he had to be back at home to help his parents with the work.

Since he was attending the morning shifts this year, he could not help his mother in the family business as well as last year and this was reducing the production of mats. The financial strain that this loss led to, forced his mother to insist on his giving up school. Nevertheless, with EI’s assisstance, the family has realized the long term value of Felix’s education and things have turned positive for this Empowerment International student.

According to Deepa Victor, who has been working with Empowerment International in Nicaragua and mentoring students, Felix is a very responsible and good student. He is very helpful and kind and a good teacher to his students in the tutoring program.

This year is his first year in private school and also the photography program. He has been very involved in all the EI activities. He has been receiving regular encouragement from the staff and thsi has boosted his confidence.  Last year he was not very good with his studies but this year his scores have improved and he is one of the top 3 students in EI’s program! He now believes that he can have a better future and that it is possible for him to achieve his dreams!

– Neha Singh (Contributions by Deepa Victor)

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In Nicaragua 50% of the kids that start 1st grade never finish 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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