Jose Armando was enrolled in our program as one of our first 76 students. While all of the students were very poor, he came from a distinctly impoverished family. His parents, while hard-working, have no formal education at all. They had 7 children and still to this day live in a home made of plastic.
Over the years, EI has worked closely with the family to identify, and address, issues that would prevent the children from completing their education. This family, in particular, needed a lot of help. At one point, EI had to help the parents place some of the children in safe homes. There were several years when Jose Armando and his brother were at great risk of dropping out of school and becoming street kids. Our local team helped facilitate an intervention and solution where they were placed in a home for boys for about 4 years. Later they were reintegrated back home with their family.
Yet, through all this turmoil and difficulty, Jose Armando graduated first in his class in high school. Even more amazing, he was then accepted into the top medical school in the country. I am deeply proud of all the work the EI team does but this is among their very finest achievements.
One of the important things I have learned over the years is to always believe in our students. Time and time again, they succeed, often in the face of apparently insuperable problems. These kids are resilient and determined; when given opportunities and some support to overcome barriers, the sky can become their limit. Jose Armando explains a bit of his journey below...Kathy Adams (EI Founder)
"I am the first in my family to have finished high school. My older sisters began to study long before me. They both finished primary school and went on to secondary, but then they suddenly left their studies. This left me feeling discouraged. Yet my parents and EI helped me to move forward. Before finishing high school, I was on a pretty bad path and I was about to leave school. Thanks to God and those people who supported me, they got me back on track and focused again on my studies so I was able to finish.
Now, I feel it’s my responsibility to encourage and motivate my younger brothers and sisters, as well as other children in the community, as an example of what they too can become. I always tell them not to stop studying when they feel they do not have the courage to continue in school. I tell them they need to fight every day to get what they want and that they are able to achieve much more than they can imagine.
To get accepted in my chosen profession, medicine, at the best medical school was incredibly exciting and something I will never forget. When reviewing the admission exam results online, I was so nervous that could not believe what I saw, I had to show the results to Maria Belén (EI’s Education Coordinator). When she saw them, she smiled and said “You qualified, Jose Armando!" At that moment I felt so much joy that I cried.
It was in Christo Sano (the home I lived in during primary school), when I was 12 years old that I realized I wanted to be a doctor. Seeing so many people with serious health problems there and that there was no one to help them really impacted me. I felt very angry because good doctors did not care about the health status of these people. Now, as I move forward in this profession, I wish to help others in need. Doing everything possible to make others feel better is what interests me.
I think that sharing my story with others in the program can provide a good source of motivation so that they do not doubt their abilities and can learn not to give up, that they are capable of achieving everything they desire. I always tell my younger brothers and sisters not to stop studying, no matter what. Even though they may feel they do not have the courage to continue in school, they have to fight every day to get what they want and that they are able to achieve much more than they can imagine. My way of continuing to support them is to encourage them to fall in love with learning so they can realize that studying is the best thing there is.
This year is full of challenges for me. The biggest one is the big change from high school to university, traveling daily on bus to Managua, then needing to study when I get home each day. I also know that I will encounter conflicts, disagreements, different ways of thinking, offers to take a road such as parties, drugs, and many other things that could be detrimental to my studies, but from what I have already experienced, I am very clear that these are invitations to paths that I should not accept and that my main focus needs to be on my studies because I really want to achieve my goal of becoming a medical doctor.
I am more confident than ever that I will achieve this. I know it will not be so easy to achieve it because on the road there are always obstacles but the last thing to do is go backwards, I am willing to complete my studies at all costs."