Christopher, 11, in Guatemala – “I want to be in the Sisters of Mary school so I can have an education and be someone when I grow up”

Safe, healthy, happy and in school

As we look forward to the new school term here in the UK we reflect on the importance of education for the impoverished children in our care.

Education is the dream for our children who come from the most deprived and vulnerable communities in the world. Each year with the help of our supporters, we are able to provide school places for over 20,000 children aged 11-18 in places at our schools which we call Boystowns and Girlstowns. These are run by our partners overseas, the Sisters of Mary, which operate schools in the Philippines, Guatemala, Mexico, Brazil, Honduras and Tanzania.

The children in these schools receive healthcare, three nutritious meals a day, full-time accredited education along with vocational training which leads them (and their families) to a better life.

When the Covid-19 pandemic struck earlier this year, the education authorities in each of the countries requested that all the children remain at the schools in the Sisters’ care rather than re-joining their families in the local regions. At school, the children have been protected from the virus and from its devastating impact on the livelihoods of the poorest communities. Very importantly, with the support of the Sisters, the children have been able to continue their education and learning.

All through the last five months the children have been safe at school and studying hard. Despite enormous challenges for the Sisters and children, with few staff or teachers able to attend the school in person, classes have continued.

A range of technology and learning equipment has proved vital in this. Lesson plans and class schedules have been maintained and delivered via zoom, YouTube and WhatsApp. Older students have also used their teaching skills to support the younger boys and girls.

Everyone has learnt a lot during the process and the Sisters are delighted to have kept the curriculum on track, to maintain the exam schedule and to witness graduation, as normal, for the senior students in the Philippines last week.

Education is the catalyst for the relief of poverty and thanks to support from our donors, our 20,000 boys and girls are still fulfilling their dreams whilst working hard to learn the skills they need that will transform their lives. These children are our future.

Nicola Lawson
UK Manager and Trustee