We have good news and great news.

The good news: Over the last few months, we have asked for your support in every way that we could—emails, voicemails, and letters in the mail.  The good news is that people showed up in a big way. Our base of supporters grew by 14% last year when organizations nationally experienced a 4% decline on average.

The great news is that we have doubled our scholarship program in five nations this year because of this support.  Students in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua started their new school year this week, and 213 new students will join the 200 students in our scholarship program in those three countries alone.

“Pamela” is one of those students from Guatemala.  Like many of our scholars, she has a long, difficult story. She grew up with parents who constantly fought.  Physical abuse, drug use, alcoholism, and hunger were not strangers in her house. Even though there is a mall less than a mile from her home where many young people go to socialize, Pamela had never been there until a recent field trip with us.  She marveled at all the shops with festive window displays of Christmas trees, which they had never had at home.

When Pamela was young, she worked on the outskirts of the dump collecting recyclables to sell so that she could purchase things she needed.  She did not ask her parents for financial support because she already knew there was not enough to go around. At the age of twelve, she showed up to our office by herself and asked Angelica Cancinos, our program leader, for a scholarship.  Seeing her need and determination, Angelica found a way to make it happen. And the support of our donors is what made it possible.

Pamela has now been enrolled in the scholarship program for three years.  She says that it completely changed her life. It provided her with the encouragement she never received at home.  She is now surrounded by people after school each day who care about her wellbeing and academic success. They have motivated her to continue her education, and in return she has been able to motivate her parents to be more proactive in her education. She is 15 now and is excelling in the San Pablo School for Girls and is planning for a career in science information technology.

Worldwide, more than 700 young people are on a life-changing journey through our scholarship program this year.  Each has his or her own story, but they all have one thing in common: a Samaritan in their life who made the scholarship possible. That’s great news indeed.