Last week, a 15-year-old girl named Coco became the youngest person ever to win three matches at Wimbledon, including an awe-inspiring comeback after being down 6-3 and 5-2 in the second match.  The thrill of that victory, and the beautiful bond so evident between her parents and her, captured the hearts of many, including me.

A clip of the court-side exchange between Coco and her parents after Coco’s victory, provided through ESPN. Clicking this link will redirect you to ESPN’s Twitter page.

Also last week, a 14-year-old girl in Ethiopia named Yona received her test results for the country’s national exam, and her mother beamed with pride.  This story wasn’t on a global stage like Coco’s—in fact, only a handful of people have heard Yona’s story—but it captured my heart, too.

In the second grade, Yona ranked 29th out of 30 students in her class when she took the national assessment at the end of the year.  When the scores came home, her mother’s heart sank, but she decided to celebrate anyway.  Giving her daughter a piece of candy, Yona’s mother explained to her that they were celebrating because she got the second highest score and that this made her very proud.  At the time it was a lie, but Yona’s mother wanted her daughter to have confidence.  It worked: filled with pride, Yona began working much harder, and now, at 14, Yona actually did earn the 3rd highest score in her eighth grade class on the national exam this year.  

Yona’s mom supported her daughter daily from age seven to age fourteen.  She even took the national exam alongside her daughter, telling us, “I am not that strong, and my left foot doesn’t even work properly.  I don’t have money or any property. But I can learn. If I don’t have anything, I will have knowledge. You need knowledge these days.”

Over the past 15 days, 675 parents like Yona’s mom applied for the 120 scholarships we are offering to children whose family members work in the dumpsite in Kore, Ethiopia.  Our team members and volunteers are going house to house visiting with parents to ensure that the most deserving children get the scholarships that are available. 

What they are finding, and what I want to share with you, is that these children have parents just like Coco’s.  They are doing everything they can to help their children achieve their dreams, including scavenging through the dumps every day to put food on the table.  The scholarships you support are a lifeline to them. And though it’s not Centre Court at Wimbledon, their bonds with their children and joy for their success are every bit as strong as Coco’s and the Gauffs.

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