This is Brayan, one of our first grade students here at the Makarios School.
About four years ago, Brayan and his mom moved from a Haitian community to Pancho Mateo, one of the villages our school serves. His mom spends long hours walking to nearby towns selling fruits and vegetables from a basket she carries on her head. Unfortunately, this means Brayan spends a lot of time alone in his home without much supervision from anyone.
Having grown up in a community where Haitian Creole was spoken and having a mom who only speaks Creole, Brayan didn’t know any Spanish when he moved to Pancho Mateo. He had never been to school prior to Makarios and was never fully immersed in a Spanish speaking environment. When Brayan was first enrolled with Makarios two years ago, they worried he might not make it through the year due to his lack of Spanish and how much he was falling behind because of it. It is a requirement that our students speak Spanish because we are a Spanish instructing school. This is part of our goal to help them succeed in this society and to open doors for more opportunities for their future. Throughout his first year, his teachers worked with Brayan on his Spanish to ensure he could stay with Makarios and succeed at our school. One of our Creole speaking staff members would even help translate for his teacher at times.
Now Brayan is completely fluent in both Creole and Spanish and is finishing up his second year at Makarios. He has grown so much since he first joined Makarios and is having a great end to the school year. He loves to read and write and has enjoyed learning how to add this year in math class, as well as learn about the Bible in Bible class. He attends church regularly in Pancho Mateo on his own and loves to learn about the Word. He says he wants to be a pastor when he is older so he can talk about the Word with others and work for the kingdom. We pray that this desire only grows from here, that he will continue to walk with the Lord all his life, and that he will one day preach the Word like he says! Join us in praying these things over Brayan's life.
Since joining Makarios, Brayan now has daily structure, is surrounded by a community that loves him, is taught the Word, is disciplined in a biblical way, is receiving a quality education, and has teachers who care about him and pray for his future.
You too could be a part of the work God is doing through Makarios International. By sponsoring a student like Brayan you not only provide the means for them to attend the Makarios school and receive all the benefits it gives, but you have the opportunity to invest in a child’s life and come alongside us in providing them hope for a better future.
Many people ask what a student sponsorship does for our Makarios students. Others ask, does my donation do more than just cloth, feed and educate a child? It is easy to see the ways our students physical and educational needs are being met on a daily basis. But what about our students spiritual and emotional needs, how are they being met? Let me share what I see when I look around at the school.
I see the love of God displayed in many ways. I see hugs. Lots and lots of hugs given to each of the students every day from the staff. I see teachers encouraging their students in and out of the classroom. I see smiles from our students when they are praised. I see young lives being changed from the inside out all because someone cares about them. Really cares! Someone, a sponsor, teacher or staff member, who cares about who they are and who they can become not where they come from. I see kids striving to be better and working hard at school because someone cares, loves and encourages them!
And because of that love, I see children whose spiritual lives are changing forever. Young people that are choosing to live a life with God. Kids that are being taught from the Bible, what is true. Children that are choosing a path that is different than anyone else in their family. Children who are becoming change agents in their homes and communities. I see potential leaders in the community, leaders for Christ.
How can you measure what your student sponsorship provides for our students? By who they are. By who they are becoming. By how they are changing the world around them. By the way they are being built up emotionally and spiritually while at school. I see lives being changed when I look at our students.
Meet Valentina, one of our very bright fifth grade students at the Makarios School.
Valentina first joined us at the Makarios School when she was in second grade. We have been blessed with the opportunity to watch Valentina grow and transform over the past 4 years and would like to share a bit of her story with you.
Valentina lives with her great grandmother and little brother in Pancho Mateo, one of the nearby villages Makarios serves. It is not uncommon for our students to live with grandparents or other family members. Her mom works long hours in a beauty parlor and her dad is in the army and lives in another part of the country. Valentina’s mom is still a part of her life and she is able to stay with her frequently, but she only sees her dad around once a month.
Valentina has always been one of the best students in her class and has a very sweet demeanor. She spends a lot of time with three of the other fifth grade girls in her class. The four of them are inseparable! Unfortunately the four of them started getting into a little trouble this year and were having problems getting along with some of the younger girls. As the cattiness increased, Valentina’s attitude started changing and she was acting out more in class. One day the four of them were called into the office to have a talk with our Principal, Assistant principal, and school chaplain. They talked to the girls out of love and concern for where their behavior was leading. They reminded them the value of the blood of Christ and the sacrifice He made for them on the cross. They continued to share the Gospel with them and offered an opportunity to make a change in their lives. The girls listened, but didn’t say much.
A few days later, Valentina pulled our Assistant Principal aside in the cafeteria. She told him she had been thinking about what they talked about in the office and she wanted to accept Jesus into her life and the other three girls wanted to as well. He gathered the four of them and they went to talk more about this decision and prayed. All four of them decided to follow Jesus that day!
It was a very bold decision for them to make, especially for Valentina. "For her to have a life in Christ is not easy. A lot of the young women in their villages are not believers. She sees the opposite lifestyle around her. To accept Christ at such a young age is not normal where she lives.”- Francis Bautista, school Chaplain. But Valentina wanted her life to be different. We believe and pray God can use her as a light to other young women in Pancho Mateo. We would love for you to join us in praying for Valentina's walk with the Lord. That amongst the darkness and sin that is so present, she will continue to choose Jesus and follow Him the rest of her life.
(Below is a photo of Valentina reading the Bible with her friend Neifi, who also made the decision to accept Christ)
Every student has his or her own story, and for each one we give all the glory to God. We are thankful and blessed He allows us to be a part of His work here in the Dominican Republic and are thankful for all of the people He uses to complete that work.
You too could be a part of the work God is doing in the Dominican Republic. By sponsoring a student like Valentina you not only provide the means for them to attend Makarios and receive all the benefits the school gives, but you have the opportunity to invest in a child’s life and come alongside Makarios in sharing the gospel with them.