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Meet Manuel, An A-Plus Pequeño

How a pequeño in the NPH OneFamily program is excelling in school while living with his mother.
September 8, 2017 - Honduras

Manuel* showing off his most recent grades.

Despite the two blasting radios, three dogs barking outside, and one solitary fan blurring heat back to outside, the only thing that stood out in the room was the pride in Manuel's* mother's eyes. "He did really well in his first tests," she explains. "The lowest grade he got was a 97%!"

Manuel is an 11-year-old pequeño who is a part of NPH's new NPH OneFamily program, which supports children who have been reintegrated with their families after receiving care from NPH. This effort ensures a long-term solution for children and families not widely offered in countries where NPH serves. Several organizations throughout Central American and the Caribbean provide temporary, protective care to children, reintegrating the children when possible. However, NPH provides a unique commitment in ensuring the temporary care of the child in the NPH home, yet a promise of ongoing support so that they can reach their full potential in their family environment.

Now, a few months into the program, Manuel is showing how successful it can be.

The most apparent reaction Manuel has to being home is happiness. "I'm really glad to be here. I miss 'El Rancho' and my friends and caregivers at NPH, but I missed my mom a lot." And she is all too happy to boast about both how good having Manuel at home is, and how good Manuel is behaving at home.

"We are very happy living here," she gushes, "it is so, so great. He is very helpful too. He sweeps, he mops, one time when I was stressed, he walked over and gave me a back rub and started talking to me, all without me saying anything."

Importantly, monthly visits from NPH social workers and psychologists are revealing that the change in environment is not impacting Manuel's educational progress at all. "Oh, yes, he was very, very smart at NPH's school," says Nidia Rodas, Head of Social Work at NPH Honduras. With a large change in living situation comes the fear that other areas of life, like studying and school, will be disrupted, but that is far from the case for Manuel.

"Go show them your tests!" Manuel's mom smiles out, as he runs back to his room to grab his backpack. And there they are. Art: 100% - Science: 100% - Spanish: 100% - Social Sciences: 100% - Math: 98%

And for just being in third grade, it was no easy 'parcial' (like a semester, it is how school years are divided in Honduras). Science class covered topics ranging from plant and animal reproductive systems to the finer points of fungi, while Social Sciences threw Manuel into the worlds of maps, Honduran history, and the philosophical values of patriotism and truth.

Successes like these could hardly make NPH any happier. In a region where more than 22 million children are not in school or at risk of dropping out - with the prospects of starting work as a child or joining a gang being two of the scarier alternatives greeting children not in class during the daytime - steady strides in school show that Manuel is on a path to future success.

Nidia leaves the house with a smile, arms filled with two school projects Manuel asked to gift to his friends at NPH. If his grades and behavior continue excelling, both his mom and Nidia agree that a late-summer visit to NPH is in his future, and promises are made to continue passing messages back and forth between Manuel and his old friends after each monthly check-in.

By his own admission, he is too young to have any real idea what he wants to do with his life. But he is back with his loving mother, he is working hard, and he is taking advantage of his education. The future is bright.

*Name changed to protect privacy

Alex Hanel   
Communication Specialist - Family Reintegration Programs

You may be only one person in the world, but you may be all the world to one child.
—Fr. William Wasson




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