Fundación Corazón de Niña
The content on this page originates from an interview of Melissa Canez by Peter Bruce in 2014.
When we talked about your philosophy, you mentioned that education was one of the four corner-posts of Fundación Corazón de Niña. Can you elaborate on that a bit? Why do you feel it is so important?
Well, it is certainly no secret that education, and the more the better, is crucial to raising people out of poverty. All the research and field experience in international development confirms that education = liberation. In particular, the research is very clear about where to invest development dollars to achieve the most benefit for the family. The answer is unequivocally, women.
…women are nurturers, they place the well-being of their family first. They are compelled by their very essence as a woman to ensure that the family survives.
Why women? Because women are nurturers, they place the well-being of their family first. They are compelled by their very essence as a woman to ensure that the family survives. So a big part of our job as house-parents at Fundación Corazón de Niña is to make sure our girls get a good education.
That is not to say that our boys do not also deserve and get a good education. I am simply saying that educating a girl has proven to be a very sound investment which pays tremendous dividends to her and her loved ones over her lifetime. She typically has stable, well-paid, meaningful employment or operates a successful business, a business which often employs her extended family.
So you get a break from the children while they’re in Corazón School. What happens when the school day ends?
2:30 to 3:30: La Comida
School gets out at 2PM. So yes, the school period leaves me time to attend to administrative tasks before the herd gets back. From 2:30 to 3:30 we have ‘la comida,’ our main meal of the day. Food is prepared in the main house and taken to the boys.
Like everything else at Corazón, the kids carry out “la comida” from start to finish. Adults serve as facilitators, helping them to work through problems and offering advice when needed. They plan what to eat with guidance from me (to ensure the choices are healthful ), purchase any supplies that we don’t have on hand, cook the meal and clean up.
The chores schedule for the day identifies who is on duty for each meal. Two girls do food preparation, two clean up and two clean the dining and living areas.
3:30 to 4:30: Studies
After “la comida”, everyone does homework — known as “la tarea” — which can last for up to three hours on some days. There are three or four adults helping with “la tarea” from Monday to Friday. Many of these children are well behind in their schooling. Some are illiterate when they arrive here. Academic support is critical and it has paid off handsomely. Eighty-five percent is the minimum grade average for our children. Some operate at ninety-five percent. All have been granted scholarships to further their education. We’re so proud of them.
It’s 4:30 now. What’s next?
4:30 to 6:30: Extracurricular Activities
Next are extracurricular activities. Every child does something in the two hours between 4:30 and 6:30 – provided they have finished their homework. Seven children go to cross-fit training, twelve go to ballet and folkloric dance, one is involved in Olympic gymnastics and the rest run at the stadium.
Your main meal is over. Do you have another smaller meal in the evening?
7:00 to 8:00: Dinner
Yes, it’s called “la cena”. It’s a light meal — salad, fruit, yogurt. Again, the kids prepare the food and clean up. And then I suppose, there is a wrap-up to the day.
8:00 to 9:00: Prepare for Bed
Yes. They organize themselves for the next day — iron their uniforms, shower and brush teeth, put their clothes away, read, pray and then it is lights out until the next day. At 5:30 the next morning it starts all over again.
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