I first met Rebeca in 1999. Her family lived behind the site of the orphanage our group was building in Lemoa. She and her siblings sat outside every day to watch the commotion. Team members would spend time playing with the kids, which is how I met her. At a very young age she was already caring for her four younger siblings.
We kept up our conversations as years progressed. One time Rebeca’s younger sister was making fun of her for failing 3rd grade. “This is my third time in 3rd grade,” Rebeca admitted with an embarrassed smile. And then, as all of the village kids did, she asked if she could be a part of the new scholarship program. I gave her a noncommittal answer, but mentally wrote her off from ever being a part of the program. How could someone who failed three years in a row ever succeed in secondary school?
“This is my third time in 3rd grade”
Fast forward to 2010
Later the scholarship program began to take much more of my time. I wasn’t in Lemoa as much as before, and I ran into Rebeca less frequently. One morning in October we were busy processing new applicants when I looked up from my camera and saw Rebeca come forward holding an application. Somehow she had made it through 6th grade and had been recommended by her teachers for a scholarship. I was amazed. We found her a sponsor and she stayed in school.