Monday, February 18, 2013

Our top "battle star" winner in Guasmo: STEVE!

In our most recent survey, one of the questions we asked Scholars was: What are two things you like best about the tutoring program? Steve had a very unique answer - going to buy snack.

Steve, with the view of Guasmo behind him.

You see, part of our Scholars' community service promise is to help me out with various projects. When we started giving a small snack a few months ago I asked for a volunteer on the first day to go buy $1 worth of mandarin oranges. Steve jumped out of his seat to help - every single day that week. After a while I didn't have to ask for volunteers - Steve just went and bought the oranges, even when I was out for two weeks.

Steve (right) and Geovanny at the front of the Starfish meeting. They are always willing to help!

This is the perfect example of Steve's good nature and passion to help others. He plays around like any 12 year old boy, and more than once I've had to remind him to be quiet during homework time - but when it comes to lending a helping hand, Steve is always the first to the gate.

Steve, working on a project at a Starfish monthly meeting.

Steve is a great teacher for me too. If I have to go buy something in the neighborhood, I often take him with me. He knows how to fix things and where to go to buy the materials - or better yet how to fix them without the materials. He knows where you can get milk for 50 cents per liter instead of the 80 or 90 cents you pay in most other stores. He is resourceful and street-smart - and only 12 years old.

Steve, getting creative on a craft project after tutoring.

Steve also comes from the most economically impoverished family we have in our Guasmo neighborhood. It is for students like Steve that Starfish exists. He could easily drop out of school to work to support his family - earning a few bucks here and there helping his father in construction. In his free time he could hang out with the other kids and fall into the temptations of the street in a process callejizaciĆ³n.

Steve in his modest home in Guasmo.

But instead he goes to Starfish. His mother is a full-time stay at home mom of 6 kids, while his father works occasional jobs in construction when available, bringing home about $180/month or less than 2/3 of the current minimum wage. Sometimes he doesn't eat 3 meals a day...or sometimes he doesn't even eat 1 meal a day. But you can be sure he'll be at Starfish bright and early with a smile and a hand ready to help!

Genesis and Steve at a Starfish meeting this past summer!

-Jenn Zocco, Director of Ecuador Programs

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