The Scholars of our Casa

This year, it seems at times that we are running a small school in our house, and, to some extent we are.

As you may know, last fall Alberto came to live with us from Peten.  When Dick met him, he had been living in a one room shack, spending all his time in bed because of osteogenesis imperfecta, or brittle bone disease.  After numerous fractures, he was afraid to go out.  But, more than anything he wanted an education.  He could already read, but wanted a diploma to increase his chances that someday he could get meaningful work and contribute to his family.

Dick had brought him a power chair a couple of years ago, and Cesar had struck up a friendship with Alberto.  Finally, last summer, Cesar and Dick asked if I would consider accepting Alberto to live with us and go to school.  Dick found him a sponsor, and Alberto became our second permanent resident in December.

I began talking to different teachers about Alberto, but none seemed a good fit.  Since he could already read and write, I wanted someone who would work with him at his level, and not make him start everything at first grade.

Once again, God had it all provided.  Reynaldo, the brother of the director of Nueva Vida where I teach 3 days a week, had begun driving some of the teachers to work from their home more than an hour and a half away from Santa Maria.  It just so happened that Rey was a pastor and a licensed teacher.  It just so happened  that he had an interest in learning more about special ed. and wanted to work in my classroom to see what I was doing.  It just so happened that as we talked about the guys at the house, that he said he would be more than happy to come and work with Alberto.  Finally, it just so happened that since he comes from a family of educators (including his father and brother who are directors of adult education programs), he had the right connections to make sure Alberto would receive government credit for his studies. 

I so love it when things just “happen” by the providence and plan of Our Father!

So we began with Rey coming to the house a couple days a week, depending on his and our schedules. (His flexibility is such a plus.)  As he began to know the guys, it became apparent that he was here not just to teach Alberto but to disciple all the guys, residents and assistants.

When he got to know Fidel, he was amazed at his abilities.  He was also concerned that, while Fidel has taken computer classes and excelled, he had stopped his government approved education after primary school.  Without a “titulo” it is very difficult to get office type of jobs, even for able-bodied people.  For Fidel, his lack of a diploma would be more of a handicap than his wheelchair.

Fidel at his graduation last December, when he received
a diploma in graphic design
I had previously talked to Fidel about completing the equivalent of high school, and he wanted nothing to do with it.  Since he is an adult, I dropped it, and prayed that through experience he would come to want to complete his education.

Enter Rey.  Rey pulled no punches with Fidel when he talked to him about studying.  Still Fidel resisted.  I think Rey was frustrated with me for not forcing Fidel to do this, but, he is an adult. One of the reasons we started this house was to give our residents the ability to make decisions for themselves (and accept the consequences).

Here’s where our companion-caregivers, Miguel and Tony, come in.  They both have finished “carerra” and put a large amount of peer pressure on Fidel to complete his.  I stayed out of it, but after a few days, Fidel decided he wanted to give it a try!  This is exactly how I had hoped things such as this would be dealt with when I envisioned the house.  More and more, I can step into the background, and the guys handle even these somewhat “delicate” situations.  As Guatemalans, males, and role models, our staff can give direction in ways that I will never be able to. 

After a number of days of struggle getting the proper paperwork together (paperwork is always a struggle here!), Rey was able to enroll Fidel and he is officially in “primero basico” or seventh grade.
Rey hopes that by modifying the curriculum in three years Alberto will finish grade 6 and Fidel grade 12.  He is being very creative in using educational television and other resources to enrich their paper and pencil activities.

God has greatly blessed us with "Profe Rey."  To enable us to pay him for his time with Fidel, we need to find someone willing to sponsor Fidel's schooling for $50.  If you would like to help Fidel get his diploma, please email me and I'll send you more information on how you can help.

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