Thais has just finished the 8th grade. This year held several great experiences for her as well as some challenges. Let’s start with the great experiences! At the beginning of the year, Thais joined Maggi, a Catholic youth service group that is part of her school’s outreach to the less advantaged people in the community. In July, she won second prize in the school’s annual Festival de Poesia (Poetry Festival), and she participated in the basic electricity course at the Children’s Center, which ran every Saturday for several months. She excelled in the class and the instructor gave her leadership responsibilities.
The challenges came for Thais this year in keeping up with her schoolwork. School has always been easy and enjoyable for her but she began missing assignments this year and saw her grades slip significantly. Her parents were rarely home and Thais, as the oldest child, shouldered the responsibility of caring for her three younger siblings for hours on end. Her mom, Gema, has worked extremely hard this year to secure a promotion as a Human Resources consultant at the restaurant management company she works for. During her months of training she was paid very little money and this created great hardship for the family. She and Thais’ dad, Luis, who works as a delivery man, both work long hours and as a result, the kids were often left on their own until well after dark. In November, the family moved in with her mom’s brother’s family, which has helped relieve much of their financial and emotional stress. The house is more spacious than any home they’ve ever lived in before and although they only have two rooms to call their own, they are much happier. The kids are now watched by their grandmother until Gema and Luis get home. However, when Gema gets home from work every evening at 7 or 8 pm, she immediately goes to work in the kitchen preparing pupusas that she and her sisters-in-law sell from the house every weekend. In one of the accompanying pictures, Thais is standing in front of the area where her mom cooks and sells the pupusas. On the porch, the menu swings from a string in the far left corner of the picture.
This new year promises to be better as her mom begins her new position at work and the family settles into their new and more supportive living arrangement. It really is amazing that Thais did as well as she did this year! We continue to encourage and support her in any way we can and have great hope for the future.