an exchange

“I wasn’t doing well in several subjects, so my mom and I decided it was best for me to quit school.” ~ Derly

I read Derly’s words again, hoping for a different outcome. The second time revealed the same hard truth: Derly quit school.

I’ve exchanged letters with this lovely young lady from Colombia since 2015. We correspond as pen pals through Compassion International but I am not Derly’s sponsor. Someone else pays the $38.00 monthly financial commitment which provides health care and supplements, Christ-centered guidance, recreational activities, love, and education.

An individual or corporation allowed Compassion to match her with someone who would write. Three years ago, our paths crossed with the first of many letters. Then, a fourteen-year-old teenager, Derly shared a few of her passions: music, soccer, and spaghetti. She learned charcoal drawing at her Compassion project and is a very talented artist. Derly lives with her mother, older sister, a nephew, and her dog, Maxie.

Her words continued…..

“I will continue later with my studies.” 

Will she return to school? Can she continue attending the Compassion project if she is no longer attending school? I’m unsure and in limbo, just like Derly’s education.

What does a 17-year-old young woman living in poverty do without a high school diploma? What does her future hold? What will she do with her free time? I don’t like any of the answers my mind summoned.

I fear Derly exchanged her education for a mirage; the erroneous belief that another way out of poverty is easier. Former President George H. W. Bush said, “Education is the key to opportunity. It’s a ticket out of poverty.” And Derly just threw her ticket away.

I opened my laptop and chose words of encouragement and empathy. School is challenging in so many ways, but education will help you achieve all that God has planned for you. When you return to your studies, if you need extra tutoring please speak with someone at your Project.

Send and wait. As the words travel miles before arriving in Derly’s hands, I thumb through Derby’s notebook where her letters and drawings bring her closer. She closed one letter with Jeremiah 29:11.

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

In my letters, I will encourage Derly to hang onto hope, to fight for her future, to view education as an opportunity, and to allow God to exchange her poverty for His purpose.

Education is the key to unlock the golden door of freedom. ~ George Washington Carver

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *