From Living on the Streets to Middle School Teacher - Santi’s Story
Come, the man said. Have a meal.
Santi, age eleven, squinted his eyes and looked into the man’s face. The man seemed earnest, but was he telling the truth? Santi had heard stories about other children on the streets, children who followed strangers like this and were forced into lives of servitude.
Just then, Santi’s stomach rumbled. Hunger shot through him like he’d swallowed knives.
There had been few cars to wash this week and he had not been able to buy food. Ever since he’d left his mother to find work in the city of Quetzaltenango, he’d counted on washing cars to make a few pennies. At night he slept in boxes with other children. They’d all left even worse conditions at home, but it was hard to convince themselves that this was any better.
Luckily, the stranger was trustworthy: He brought Santi to our partners in Guatemala, who not only gave him food but his very own bed and a place in school.
Santi put on weight and started to excel in his classes. He graduated middle school, then high school. Before, Santi had been part of the staggering 61% of children in Guatemala forced to drop out of school, but now he became part of an even more unique statistic: He entered the 1% of Guatemalans who go on to earn a university degree. He did so with a scholarship earned through his academic achievement.
Today, Santi is a middle school teacher. He could choose to be anywhere, but he’s back at the same school that took him in when he needed it most, teaching eleven-year-olds that their lives count and that they, too, deserve a seat at the table.