How starting one year behind did not stop one pequeño from becoming a model student. September 14, 2017 - Honduras
Juan is a current third grader at NPH Honduras.
Walk into the NPH Social Work offices in Honduras and ask Nidia Rodas, the head social worker, who comes to mind when you hear the words most improved student. "Juan"* she immediately smiles. "He came here when he was young, and he has only been here a few years, but boy is that kid smart."
Juan is your fairly typical third grader in Honduras. Like a lot of children his age, he loves baleadas - one of Honduras' most common foods - dislikes math class, and is a fan of Real Madrid. What sets him apart from his classmates, then, is that he started a year behind.
"I came here three years ago," Juan explains, "and had never been in school before NPH." By arriving at NPH so early in life, Juan did not miss too many years of schooling - some pequeños arrive at the ages of 13-14 with only a second-grade education, but he still started behind in comparison to others his age.
But now in third grade, Juan is one of his class' leading students and is meeting every academic and personal challenge head on.
"I have English, gym, computer, religion, science, math, social studies, and Spanish classes. Science is my favorite! And math is the hardest, but it's also pretty boring..." While studying was never a part of daily life before NPH, Juan can be found working hard every day after school to get all assignments done and study for whatever quizzes may be coming that week.
"He has improved so much since arriving" explains Professor Roberto, one of the school's coordinators and current third Grade teacher. "He works very hard inside and outside of class, but he is also very good in his values, his discipline, and how he behaves as well."
Even at the young age of nine years old, Juan is already starting to realize the importance of putting hard work into school now. "I don't know for sure, but I want to keep studying so I can be a firefighter when I grow up!"
And study he does. "He works really hard outside of class," says Tía Marta, one of the caregivers in Juan's home. "He will have homework from all of his classes, but math is generally the most challenging. That being said, though, he finishes it off without a major problem most of the time."
And it's not only his studies that are being noticed. "He is very well behaved," his 'tía' continues. "He helps do all the chores without complaint, he doesn't say bad words - which others his age are starting to do now. Out of the boys in this section, he is one of the most ready to move on to live with the other older, more mature boys."
It is a success in and out of the classroom that everyone in Juan's life is proud and excited to see. Honduras can be a difficult country to build a stable future: more than 60% of the country lives in poverty and ranks 125th out of 185 countries on the ease of doing business and 179th out of 185 on successful enforcement of contracts, according to most recent World Bank statistics. However, Juan is taking advantage of every opportunity that he is being given at NPH's school and is not letting a thing such as starting late stop him.
Juan's success is praised by teachers and other staff across NPH, and all note his hard work ethic and focus as the driving force behind his transformation over the past three years. To him, though, the secret to his success is obvious: "How much do I study?" he says simply. "Well ... until everything is done!"
*Name changed for privacy purposes.
Alex Hanel Communication Officer
You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson