Ten-year-old Esther’s big brown eyes light up as she talks about the Aprendo Leyendo program. “I enjoy coming every week because Miss Paulina teaches us to read and write!” she says enthusiastically.
In many ways, Esther is like most young girls. She loves wearing pink clothes and the fantasy of fairy tales and unicorns. But her life isn’t easy. She lives with 15 family members in a small bamboo and concrete house in the humble neighborhood of El Carmen in Manizales, Colombia. Three generations cram the two-level home, and the rooms are divided by curtains instead of walls.
Her 60-year-old mom, Melinda, works Monday to Saturday cleaning houses to provide the basics for her family. All five of Melinda’s children have different fathers who are no longer around, but her family is close and makes the best of things because they have no choice.
Esther is in third grade and goes to a public school. Although it’s funded by the government, resources are very limited, and the quality of education is extremely low. Though the school’s been closed for months now due to COVID-19.
Luckily, Esther’s been able to keep attending the Aprende Leyendo program every week since she was six with her younger brother, Angel Fabian. The program has been a vital resource to keep them learning during the school shutdowns. Program Manager, Paula Correa, helped set up the reading room at a local community hub in 2014 to give disadvantaged children access to books, mentoring and help improve their reading.
Like many other children facing poverty and hardship around the world, Esther had no books at home. Aprende Leyendo and the World Literacy Foundation donated food, clothes, and books to her family, so now Esther can read at home too. Esther wants to be a policewoman when she grows up to take care of people in her community. We think her dream will come true because the gift of literacy opens endless possibilities for children in need.
Donate today to help more Colombian kids like Esther learn to read and achieve their dreams!