Imagine my surprise as I find out that one of the Starfish Scholar parents wants to meet me! In fact, I believe Jenn said she insisted on meeting me.
Marina’s* two oldest children are Starfish Scholars. Marina cried as she shared that this is the first year her children don’t have to wear used uniforms. The youngest of the two Scholars, Steve, was so excited – “Mom, I love that the professor just tells me what the homework is and I can pull out my workbook and do it!”
For the next oldest children in Marina's family, two young girls in elementary school, they don’t have a scholarship. When her elementary-school-aged children ask for their workbooks or textbooks, Marina has to tell them, “Look- this is how much money I have for the day. You’ll have to choose between the book and your tummy. Which do you choose?”
What a decision to make! I have never even had to consider a decision like this. Food or books for school? My memories of the summer always end with a huge school-supply shopping spree at Target, where I was able to buy all the supplies I needed (and then some). At the end off the trip, we usually went to grab lunch somewhere or had a big dinner at home. The thought of choosing between my tummy or a school book is so difficult. People should not have to make that choice!
In the hour and a half we were in her home, Marina used the word "humble" seven different times. She described so many things as "humble": her house, the snack she bought us, the soup we were served, even the chair we sat on! But I have to say -- no matter what she tried to claim as 'humble' - the most humble feeling in the room came from me. I was so humbled by Marina's generous hospitality, genuine curiosity about Jenn and I, and thoughtful appreciation. Marina taught me more in those 90 minutes than most people could in a year.
“I’ll never stop thanking you. Well, first God, then you all. Because you all came to me through Him. I asked God to provide – and he did, by sending you!” The visit with Marina put so much meaning to what we do with Starfish.
*name changed for privacy
Me with Maria, who left for school first, around 12:15pm. She was ready to go on time -- a rarity for many Ecuadorians!
Steve left about 20 minutes later. Marina told us that Steve and Maria's friends and professors didn't believe that they got scholarships this year! The Starfish Scholars had to carry their letters of acceptance to prove that this blessing did exist.
Me, Marina, Jenn and one of the younger children. Thanks, Marina, for a lovely visit!
--Beth Awalt, Co-Founder, The Starfish Foundation, Inc.