In this series of blogs, we are exploring how World Villages for Children ends poverty through education; our work with the Sisters of Mary, how we operate together, the children we care for and educate, our children’s lives after school, and how we spend the funds so generously donated to us.
When children arrive in our care they are suffering the physical and emotional effects of a deprived early life.
They are accustomed to neglect and so will be malnourished, diseased and underdeveloped for their age. The first priority work of the Sisters is ensuring prompt medical attention to improve their physical health.
Each child receives a full medical check up, the appropriate inoculations, a dental and eye check, and tests to make sure they are not suffering from any serious long-term illness.
Starting school with us is a joyous time but it can be emotional for all the new children. There are many new routines and experiences for them to adjust to, new opportunities, new faces and new timetables – it can be overwhelming
“I didn’t have anything and suddenly I have everything” (Edineia in Brazil).
On arrival, thanks to our donors we are able to ensure our children receive everything they need to thrive at school, two sets of uniform and PE kit, two pairs of shoes, personal hygiene items, notebooks, pens and school supplies.
They are assigned into small family groups so they can make new friends, overseen by the loving care of the Sister in charge (or mother sister). They learn about how to care for themselves, wash their clothes and help each other with the daily chores. For many, they will learn for the first time how to flush a toilet and experience the simple joy of running water and taking a shower.
Providing the children with a balanced, nutritious diet is essential for their recovery. Food poverty and the lack of a diverse diet means that impoverished children fail to develop  so, an important part of life at school is ensuring every child receives 3 good meals a day and vitamin supplements to help address the early imbalance in their diets, to give them a better start, make them strong and promote physical growth and learning.
Finally well fed, the children begin to recover physically but their mental wellbeing is also a priority. Poverty has a severe effect on the mental health of a child but in our care, being safe, stress free and having the hope of a better future has a profoundly positive effect on the mental health and wellbeing of the children.
The Sisters provide compassionate care, emotional and mental health support to the children, with some of the Sisters being qualified as child counsellors to provide specialised support where needed.
As the children grow and flourish they are able to take advantage of the academic and vocational education which is accredited by the local education authorities in each country. For the first time they have access to the subjects and skills they will need to find work and become independent and ready for a brighter, poverty free future.
Among the academic subjects taught at all the schools, the children learn mathematics, English, Biology, Physics, the language of their country, art, music, drama, and many more. Language is an especially vital skill for our children. Many children will come from regions where they speak only a local dialect and so this will be their first chance to learn their national language. Languages are also essential for future employment.
Alongside the curriculum of academic subjects, each child receives practical training in vocational (technical) courses ready for future employment. These subjects are applied skills such as sewing and tailoring, bread and pastry making, cookery, engineering, tool-making, electronics and solar panel installation, welding, automotive mechanics, mechatronics, computer systems servicing, book keeping, jewellery making, and many more.
These courses are taught from the second year in secondary school, and the courses are chosen to fit the skill needs of the local economy – to ensure that when the children complete school they are work ready for the local jobs. Stable employment for the children after school is the main focus and so the Sisters are careful to ensure that the courses they offer will be relevant for employers, ensuring rates of employment are extremely high and giving the children the best chance of a good job, independence and financial security after school.
The focus of life at school is learning, the children grow well and strong, become excited to learn and keen to make the most of their time at school, but the Sisters place emphasis on a balanced approach. Play forms an essential part of life at school. From the foundation years in the nursery programmes, all the way up to the secondary level schools, play contributes to overall childhood development.
At school with us, the poorest children have the stress and strain of poverty removed, they have the space, freedom and safety to build confidence and finally to enjoy a proper childhood.
As part of their leisure time all our children participate energetically in a wide range of extracurricular pastimes and hobbies including sport, artistic and cultural activities. The children compete at local, regional and national levels in these activities, sharpening their skills in competition and excelling against their peers.
The range of leisure activities is wide and includes gardening, football, basketball, netball, dancing, singing, drama, music, hockey, athletics, taekwondo, Arnis (Philippine martial art also known as Kali/Eskrima) and many more. Playing sports and developing new hobbies allows the children to make friends, and build confidence as well as developing their physical fitness, discipline and athletic agility. These new skills are transforming for the children, particularly girls like Rejane in Brazil who has been empowered by her new love for taekwondo.
A place at our schools provides the poorest children with a vital opportunity for education. It transforms their lives.
Mt Iztaccíhuatl Expedition Updates
In December 2023, Enrique climbs Mt Iztaccíhuatl. You can read his updates on training and preparing for the expedition here
In September 2023, the UN reviewed its progress towards the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. Over October, we reflected on how we work towards these goals within our programmes providing our children with the opportunities to escape from poverty and thrive.
Tanzania programme visit 2023
In September, Nicola and Carey from the World Villages team travelled to Tanzania for the inauguration of the new boys’ school in Dodoma. It will serve to educate some of the most impoverished boys in Tanzania.