The name Cadaniño means each child or every child in Spanish.
Though we know we can't reach every child in need in the communities in which we work, we strive to make a meaningful difference in each of the 200 students enrolled in our centers.
What that means for each one of them is different.
For some, that means computer training, programming, and STEM skills that will enable them to pursue a career in technology. For other students, it means excelling in school, graduating, and going to university. For those we serve who live in incredibly challenging situations, it can be as simple as helping them with something as simple as staying in school.
One thing that we make abundantly clear is that our programs, which focus on spiritual formation, educational reinforcement, and family strengthening, don't exist for the purpose of making people rich, even though we do believe that with the right approach, it is possible to break the cycle of poverty.
Our goal is to help them develop their God-given gifts and abilities and use them to their greatest possible potential, whatever that may be, and to use them for the glory of God.
Though we often share the success stories of excelling students, as it is an inspiration to many of what is possible, I wanted to give you a different perspective of what success looks like for some of those we serve.
Story of Luis Miguel, told by Eduardo Lux, the coordinator at the Cadaniño Community center in Santa Fe.
Luis Miguel is a 15-year-old teenager in 5th grade at a public school.
He lives with his parents in an impoverished neighborhood called "La Isla" near our Santa Fe center. His father is 75, does masonry work, and his mother is illiterate.
Ever since I met Luis Miguel, I was very impressed with him. He has a strong work ethic, a desire to learn and has tried his best to attend school regularly. Because his family is poor, he has always had to help make money to buy food. Most afternoons he could be found selling snacks or ice cream on the street, though he never sold very much, it would help buy a few tortillas.
His school is a 40-minute walk from his home. Though there are busses, he couldn't afford Q1 ($.12) to ride on them. Often the only food he would eat was the snack students receive at the public school.
On top of everything, I noticed that Luis seemed to have some learning disabilities that made learning hard. He could not read and write well; he seemed to struggle with retaining and remembering information and instructions. The teachers at school did not believe he could improve. With little to no help at home, he was struggling and in danger of dropping out of school.
Although his situation was very challenging and he would require more attention than most of our students, I decided to enroll him in our program in 2019 and convinced his mother to let him attend.
He was very excited about this opportunity and has turned into one of our most dedicated students.
We have seen him improve in every area.
Besides being enrolled in our after-school program of Bible classes, computer classes, and tutoring, he also attends every morning to participate in his video classes for school.
Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, most students receive their education via remote learning. For a large amount of the population in Guatemala, this is highly problematic. Many do not have computers, smartphones or can't afford internet access daily for video streaming.
Last year, when the crisis was at its peak, and we couldn't have students in our center, many of them struggled to find ways to attend virtual classes.
Luis had a neighbor who offered him internet access in exchange for work, which meant that he would wake up each day at 4 am to bake bread for four hours in exchange for internet access in the afternoons. It was an unfair trade by a long shot, but Luis gladly did it as it was the only way for him to study.
Thankfully, this year we can offer in-person classes, and Luis is one of 14 students who come into our center every day and use our computers to attend their classes online. Many of them have said that without this option, they would fail the year.
The progress Luis has made is nothing short of amazing. He is attending all his online classes, getting his homework done on time, competently using the computer to do homework, study, and create reports. The meal we offer him has helped him to put on weight, and he no longer looks malnourished.
He enjoys participating in Bible classes and will engage with other students. As his learning skills improved, his confidence grew. He began to believe that he was capable of learning, which did wonders for his self-esteem.
Even though his home life is still very challenging and he has a long way to go, we can see a remarkable difference in him. Something has changed. The scale has tipped from "I don't know if I can" to "Yes, I can study, I can learn."
We took his desire to learn, placed him in an environment where he was encouraged to learn, gave him the tools he needed, and he is running with it.
Luis Miguel is a perfect example of the difference that the Cadaniño ministry makes in the lives of hundreds of children every day.
At Cadaniño we work to meet people where they are at in ways meet their needs. To change their perspective from "I can't" to "I can", from "if I only could" to "yes I can," and the result is that they succeed in ways they never thought possible.
Join us in work we are doing to serve the orphaned, vulnerable and disabled and have an impact for eternity.