Wednesday was the day we were all waiting for, when we would meet Dulce, the 8-year-old our church has been sponsoring through Common Hope. (By being affiliated with Common Hope, she and her family become eligible for medical care at the excellent clinic here, food and housing assistance, and a lot of social services, as long as Dulce stays in school - education being their target objective.)
We were expecting Dulce and her mother to arrive at our project at 1:30 but as we left lunch at 1pm, there she was, sitting expectantly with her mother. We recognized each other from photos and, smiles all around, communicated our excitement without words. Six of the 12 of us met with her, and our translator Louise (to Dulce's left in the photos) - we had decided that all 12 of us would be overwhelming so the 6 who did not have their own sponsored child got to meet with Dulce.
As you can see in these photos, she is a treasure and we all fell instantly in love with this thoughtful, poised, lovely, bright, polite young woman. She told us that she loves to read, and showed us her report card -- all 99s and 98s (except a bit lower in physical education, winning her instantly to my heart...). We've learned through our social work visits just how remarkable this is -- we've seen many report cards full of 40s and 50s, and a full third of children don't pass first grade the first time through. Only 50% graduate from sixth grade - so the fact that her two older brothers are still in high school tells us that this is a remarkable family that values education. She said she'd like to be a doctor (and Louise says that this, too, is rare).
We had brought some school supplies, and a Spanish version of a few books -- see her receiving Make Way for Ducklings in the photo. (I wonder how you pronounce Jack, Kack, Lack, etc in Spanish??) Then the doll and doll's doggy, wrapped up in the blanket we'd made from the Shirts Off our Back project. And we gave the larger version of the blanket to her mother.
It's one thing to read about children in need, and quite another to begin to build a connection with one another, and to see just how our support can make a difference. We're smitten!