Inside the house, at the back… no roof

Junior is on my right, in the turquoise tee shirt

These drapes hide the stand pipe shower

There is only an earth floor throughout

I visited Junior in his house last week, where he lives with his mother, 3 other brothers and sisters. The rubble that you can see outside is all that remains of his adobe home, which literally fell down around their ears in November. The wood and some bricks were donated so that they had somewhere to live.

I thought you might like to know about this typical story here of poor children and what happens to them when they are older. The average experience is that if they are lucky, they go to some sort of school until they finish primary and that’s it. Perhaps they can read and write a bit, perhaps not. Coprodeli, the charity that helps us here and which has its own social programme, has a couple of homes for street children and Junior, a 19yr old boy who has lived for years in one of them, is just putting himself forward to go to university this year. He is doing an entrance exam this coming week (all fingers crossed for him please) and even if he passes, it is not certain that he will get into the one he wants to go to, Villareal an unusually good state university, as there is such competition for places, since it is much cheaper there than a private university (which is the norm here, as with schools). He wants to do accountancy and if he does not succeed in getting a place for that, then his second choice is psychology. His experiences are such that he himself, when he is not working or studying, acts as a leader to a group of street children and helps them in the same way that he was helped.

He explained to me that he is currently working 9am– 9pm 6 days a week, to put some money into the family finances, since he does not know what he will be able to earn once he is in university. The amount of money he earns, about £50 per month, is well below the minimum wage here, and is halved again by paying for the buses and some food. To say that it was a humbling experience listening to him, is putting it mildly. I have rarely met a young man with such values, so unselfish and so concerned for others. When I think of what would be put forward in the UK as reasons for not succeeding – poor home, lack of education, lack of opportunities and this in a country where no child has to live like Junior, it makes me weary: weary of listening to excuses for bad behaviour; weary of the negativity that seems to be part of our everyday lives.

There are plenty more “Juniors” out here, willing and wanting to help themselves and their families to have better lives. If you feel you could help, would like to be a godparent, or just give a one-off donation towards a youth’s education or whatever, just write to me please.
Thanks to all those people who are already godparents – it is invaluable, really invaluable the effect of your contribution. The food and classroom help may appear to be short term, but the fact that someone cares enough to do it and keep on doing it, is what sustains the children and their families….and me. Educating them and keeping them in school, is their only hope of beating poverty and rising up to an acceptable standard of living.