In this series of blogs, we want to go a bit deeper into 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.
Registered in 1998, our charity aim is to support the Sisters of Mary to run live-in secondary schools, day care and training centres for the most deprived boys and girls across the world. With our small and dedicated staff team and trustee board we raise funds, help measure and report impact and engage with the wonderful supporters who make our work possible.
With these funds the Sisters can provide school places and care for children who are orphans or from the very poorest families in the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras and Tanzania. These are children who work long hours on the streets, in slums and on rubbish dumps to earn money. Who risk disease, early marriage or a life of crime. Who lack the basic conditions for survival and access to a good education, without which they have no hope of a better future.
The Sisters of Mary were founded in August 1964 by Father Aloysius “Al” Schwartz, in Busan, South Korea. The order currently consists of more than 390 Sisters who are dedicated to operating humanitarian education programmes in the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras and Tanzania.
The Sisters are a congregation of the Catholic Church and recognised by Pope John Paul II, who granted the decree that they are a Religious Institute of Pontifical Right on March 2, 2000. They are headquartered in Biga, near Manila in the Philippines.
The Sisters are “contemplatives in action”. They strive to unite the vocations of Martha and Mary. Their active life is balanced by three hours of daily prayer and contemplation.
The Sisters welcome any child living in poverty regardless of religion, gender, or race. Under their care, in 13 schools worldwide, the most deprived boys and girls enjoy an accredited, value-led education that provides a sound framework for the development of capable, independent and empowered adults. Each year the schools accommodate almost 20,000 children.
When the children leave school they are confident, hopeful and have the technical skills they need to find employment and in turn to support generations of their families and local communities out of poverty, multiplying the humanitarian impact of our work.
These amazing women devote their entire lives to caring for and educating the poorest children – for them, it’s a vocation and a blessing. They are experienced educators and carers, highly skilled, working in the most deprived countries and living on-site at schools providing 24/7 care. They provide vital in country expertise and enduring compassion, reaching the most vulnerable children either by referral from parish contacts or graduates of the programme.
The Sisters travel enormous distances and frequently put themselves in harm’s way to reach these children in the poorest and most remote communities. With sufficient funding and the blessing of the families, the Sisters will offer a school place to the most needy and the children generally join the schools either in January or August. They stay with the Sisters for 5 or 6 years until they complete school ready for work.
Through liaison with local companies and the support of graduates, at the end of their time at school the Sisters will support the children into employment. Employment rates after school are very high, the children are regarded as fast, efficient and reliable and with the technical skills necessary for local jobs they are quick to find employment. This transforms their lives.
The humanitarian work of the Sisters of Mary owes its origin to Father Aloysius Schwartz. More affectionately called “Father Al” by those whose lives he touched. He was a champion of the poor and dedicated his life to providing a safe home and place to learn for countless deprived children throughout the world.
Sister Maria was elected Superior General of the Sisters of Mary in 2011, succeeding Sister Michaela Kim as head of the congregation and charity programmes.
She is now responsible for all the communities and operations at the schools and education programmes worldwide. She is dedicated to the care and support of the most impoverished children, guides the development of the programmes and spends part of every year at each school overseeing progress with their humanitarian work.
The Sisters have a wide range of professional skills that they use to manage the schools and care for the children in each programme.
From finance and management to nursing and child counselling. Some are teachers of academic subjects and work with the children in the classroom, many are accomplished in sports and help to prioritise the children’s physical health, exercising with the children, playing with them in sport and helping to keep them fit and strong.
The Sisters are the primary care givers to the children while they are at school, giving them emotional and physical support. Not only do they watch over them, prepare and share in their meals, games, school work, and sport, the Sisters live their lives with the children.
The programmes could not run without the dedication and hard work of our teachers and staff.
The teachers at the schools, training centres, and nurseries, provide quality education and practical training for all of our students and trainees. Courses taught are accredited by the Ministry of Education in each country. Many of our teachers are recruited locally, some are previous graduates of the programmes but all are delivering at a level of excellence that is recognised in each country.
Our teachers are dedicated to motivating our children to learn well and be ambitious for their future. They will also spend additional free time supporting extra-curricular activities or helping the children catch up with difficult subjects. This has been a particular feature since the closure of state schools during lockdown which caused our new grade 7 students to fall behind in their early learning – now known as learning poverty.
Mt Iztaccíhuatl Expedition Updates
In December 2024, 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.