Father’s Day wins the prize for the most awkward holiday among our Education and Hope families. A great majority of our kids live in homes without fathers. It’s not that there aren’t wonderful fathers to be found in the country of Guatemala, just that our particular population is largely fatherless. In the weeks leading up to Father’s Day, our younger students engage in a tradition familiar to many: time at school devoted to making some elaborate handicraft as a Father’s Day gift. It’s a sensitive investment of time when the person you are supposedly making the gift for has always been more of an idea than a reality, most likely a father who abandoned them, or one they never knew because he had chosen not to acknowledge their existence. My heart aches to think of the extra hours they might be obliged to contemplate the absence of this mythical father. However, during our early years in the program, I became acutely aware of children’s resilience. On Father’s Day they would inevitably march into the after-school program, proudly carrying their shoeshine box, or their key rack, or the card made in the form of a dress shirt and tie (this one always makes me laugh - do any of the men in their lives regularly wear a shirt and tie?). Some of the kids would present this gift to their mothers, as she was the only parent they'd really known. Many, looking to complete the circle, would thoughtfully give their gifts to me, with hugs and kisses and affectionate appreciation. This Father's Day I am especially mindful of the loving and supportive presence Education and Hope is for all the members of our program. We are truly a second parent for a multitude of children. Just as significantly, we are arms to hold and shoulders to lean on for the mothers who raise their families alone. The spirit of who we are makes Father’s Day more bearable for mothers who feel especially alone or isolated in their parenting. In my heart I hold sacred the countless times I have been told, “You have been both mother and father to my children”. I know this means that our work is truly borne out of the love we have for the families we serve. (continued in comments)
Love is the only way. •. Bishop Michael Curry, in his impassioned sermon at the Royal Wedding, encouraged us all to, “Imagine a world where love is the way.” With the eyes of the world on him, Bishop Curry quoted Dr. Martin Luther King: “We must discover the power of love, the redemptive power of love. And when we discover that, we will be able to make of this old world a new world, for love is the only way.” . . The beating heart of our work at Education and Hope, the spirit lifting up and energizing our efforts to provide access to education and wellness, guidance and emotional support, is this very belief: Love is the only way. When we root ourselves in unconditional love we tap into a transformative energy, one that can create colossal change. This is a love that unites, a love that empowers, a love that heals, a love that listens, a love that bears empathy and offers compassion. It is a love that grows in solidarity out of our recognition of kinship, reminding us that our lives are connected and our futures are inextricably linked, inspiring us to work together for the common good. Bishop Curry went on to invoke the cosmic spirit of Jesuit priest Teilhard de Chardin who said that when humanity learns to harness the energies of love, it will be the second time that we have discovered fire. Such is the singular, revolutionary power of love. . Thank you, Bishop Curry, for infusing the world with your message of hope, for inspiring us through your passion for social justice, and for reflecting back to us our own great desire to embody the dream of the beloved community. . Hearts on fire with the redemptive power of love. If we lean into that love it will change the world. ❤️ • “When love is the way, then no child will go to bed hungry in this world ever again. . When love is the way, we will let justice roll down like a mighty stream and righteousness like an ever-flowing brook. . When love is the way, poverty will become history. . When love is the way, the earth will be a sanctuary. . When love is the way, we will lay down our swords and shields, down by the riverside, to study war no more.” ~Bishop Michael Curry
“When are we finally going to realize that humanity is the answer to inhumanity?” • “Prayer is only as powerful as the faith we use to walk out into the world and take action. “ • “Don’t just pray for the answer, be the answers.” @lrknost . • This wisdom resonates so deeply with all of the heart woven into the philosophy and mission of @educationandhope, this call to action that reminds us that we are our sister’s keeper. In times of overwhelm it’s too easy to shut down, to turn off. The need is too great, the pain is too great; it’s easier to look away. But we must breathe, regroup, and then act. We must recognize our interconnectedness, honor our common humanity. We cannot survive without one another. We are the ones we have been waiting for. • . *** #Repost @lrknost with @get_repost ・・・ Yet another day filled with tragic news. From mass shootings to natural disasters to man-made humanitarian disasters, our world is reeling from crisis after crisis after crisis. It's easy to feel overwhelmed. It's easy to feel helpless. It's easy to comfort ourselves with simply sending thoughts and prayers, believing we can do no more. But the reality is that our thoughts and prayers need to strap on a sturdy pair of work boots and pull on a well-worn pair of work gloves to be effective. Our world needs us on our feet, not on our knees. Prayer is only as powerful as the faith we use to walk out into the world and take action. Whether it's feeding the hungry or healing the sick or answering phones or raising funds or campaigning for change or running for office, everyone can do something. Let's all stand up and walk out of our doors and reach out to humanity with humanity. We are the answer we've been waiting for.💞 L.R.Knost ---------------------------------------------------- Please respect the work of authors, photographers, and artists. You are welcome to share provided you include appropriate credit and do not crop out authors' names from quote memes. Thank you. :) #LRKnost www.littleheartsbooks.com . Fighting a rare, incurable cancer, but I'm still here!💞 L.
I've been carrying this picture around in my notebook for weeks now. Taken in 2004, it's been a favorite for a long time. But when I was sorting through some old photos recently it just stopped me. Held me. I was taken by just how much of who we are at Education and Hope is wrapped up inside of this one image. Here is a baby who was born to a young teenage mother, a child of domestic violence. Only 15, she was months away from losing her own mother, my friend since 1997. Her terminal illness had incapacitated her. She was unable to take care of herself and because there was no one else, we took her in. We provided hospice care for her even before I knew what hospice meant. Meanwhile, her teenage girl who had just dropped out of 7th grade hadn't the first clue about how to take care of a baby and was now a new mother on her own. So I'd invite her to spend whole mornings with me at my house. We'd bathe her sweet girl together in a plastic tub set on the kitchen counter, and then we'd sit and chat over coffee and breakfast. She was grateful for the support, for the attention, the meal, for the reminder that she was not alone. I was grateful for the chance to mother her and to love on her baby. . But when I study this image and consider all the layers behind this scene, I find it all here, precisely who we are, laid out as if a storyline. Tenderness, patience, healing. Acceptance in place of judgment. Nurturing, nourishment, kindness. Love at the beginning of life, love at the end of life. Listening, encouragement, guidance. Affection, appreciation, education. Sweetness and light, sorrow and loss, joy and pain, sickness and health. Hope in the barren places. Compassion and empathy. Creating community. Worthiness and belonging. Awakening to the truth of who we are. Growing into our best selves as we embrace the love we are made of. All of this and so much more folded into the becoming: our evolving selves, our evolving work, our evolving presence in these lives. This is how we mother the world around us. . . In honor of all the nurturers in our lives, and with gratitude for enabling us to be a nurturing force for change within the hearts of so many. ❤️
May 10th is Mother's Day in Guatemala. All day I was hoping for some time to connect with all of my beautiful mamas at Education and Hope, but it was one of those days, busy and full from start to finish, and tonight I was feeling bad that I hadn't had the chance. And then I came home to find a bunch of love notes and well wishes from Guatemala sent from them to me on Mother's Day. I love it when the world turns the camera around and points it back at you. Here's one from Lorena Sac, too sweet not to share (her Spanish below). Heart full! ❤️ ❤️ . Dear Julie... Today on Mother's Day I want to thank the heavens for the blessing it is to have you in our lives. Your LIGHT has guided our path from the moment we met you; your unconditional LOVE has been the guiding force helping us to become better people; your POWER to hold us all in your lap as your own; your PRESENCE which makes a tremendous impact each day on the hearts of so many in your mission and your work. Eternal thanks for allowing us to grow in every way possible. I'm sending you love, hugs, and great happiness always. I love you! . • Querida JULIA... Hoy en el Dìa de las Madres, quiero agradecer al cielo la bendición de tenerla en nuestra vida, su LUZ ha guiado nuestro camino desde el momento de conocerla, su AMOR incondicional ha sido nuestra fuerza para ser mejores personas, su PODER para sostenernos a todos en su regazo con confianza plena y su PRESENCIA que hace que cada día su misión y su trabajo tengan un tremendo impacto en los corazones de muchos. Eternamente gracias por dejarnos crecer en todas las formas posibles. Le envío amor, abrazos y mucha felicidad por siempre. I LOVE YOU!!! ❤️🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻🌻❤️ . . #thisiswhatlovelookslike #felizdiadelamadre #educationandhope
This essay found me again today (link in bio😊), a little reminder from the universe about the continuity and strength of these themes in my life - finding and creating community, encouraging others to feel the fullness of their humanity. Always enlightening to revisit your roots, to see the people and events who helped shape your passions, wind your way back to how you started out on this path that continues to lead you to where you are and towards the person you are ever-evolving to be. . “Once upon a time, I was invited by Wake Forest Magazine to write an essay connecting the dots from my days as a Women's Studies/Religion major to founding Education and Hope. Rereading the essay, I was inspired to see how this theme of finding and creating community continues to be at the core of our work in Guatemala and in my life. While I am wholly unaccustomed to seeing my face spread across the pages of a magazine, I'm honored to have had the opportunity to share my story and my passion here, especially now as Wake Forest seems to be striving to expand its commitment to Pro Humanitate ideals. Deeply grateful for the ongoing support of many good friends from my Wake community who share so much to sustain our work and continue to help me spread the word about all we do in Guatemala.” . #createcommunity #ProHumanitate #wfu #thisiswhatlovelookslike
Feeling the spirit of the inspirational, tireless seeker of justice Archbishop Romero on the anniversary of his assassination in 1980, today, March 24th, when here in the US we are seeing what it looks like when we collectively choose to dig deeper, to find the courage to stand in the face of injustice, to rise up, to speak out, to use our talents, our privilege, our voices, to work together to create a better world. . Not because we're certain we'll be successful in our efforts, but because we know it's the right thing to do. . Some of the text of the prayer in memory of Romero is transcribed below but my favorite lines are these, the ones that remind me, again and again, that we may never see the end results of our life's work, and we cannot do everything. And yet, each day we are called to renew our commitment to justice, to fight for what we believe in, to add our part - however small. To begin again. . We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s Grace to enter and do the rest.” . from “Prophets of a Future Not Our Own” . This is what we are about: We plant the seeds that one day will grow. We water seeds already planted, knowing that they will hold future promise. We lay foundations that will need further development. We provide yeast that produces effects beyond our capabilities. . We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that. This enables us do something, and to do it well. It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for God’s Grace to enter and do the rest. . We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker. We are workers, not master builders, ministers, not messiahs. We are prophets of a future not our own. . A prayer in memory of Archbishop Oscar Romero of El Salvador, assassinated for speaking out for justice on March 24, 1980. Photo credit: anonymous.
This year the theme for International Women's Day is #PressforProgress, putting into the spotlight the global movement toward gender equality. Guatemala is a country with a very visible gender disparity. A strict division of labor, lack of equal access to education for women and girls, high rates of domestic violence and teen pregnancy all contribute to gender-wide levels of extreme poverty. Limitations regarding access to education, adequate healthcare, family planning, and channels of support to report and prosecute domestic violence and abuse, all perpetuate systemic gender inequality and the degradation of women. • The reality of this situation can, at times, feel grim. But I am inspired daily by the power of incremental change. Our staff is largely made up of women, and each day we offer a work environment that encourages compassion and respect for others, the dignity of earning a fair wage, community, access to education, time for self-care and exercise, two healthy meals, and simply being appreciated and loved. I have witnessed the way these basic elements are transforming lives. In our program, empowerment looks like self-respect, satisfaction, pride, acknowledgment, access to opportunity, and maybe your first pair of sneakers for our weekly Zumba class. In honor of a movement that celebrates the continued pursuit of equality for women around the globe, we at Education and Hope would like to offer heartfelt thanks to our extended family of donors for the contributions that are helping to achieve those goals on a daily basis. You are enabling us to #PressforProgress. We may not be able to change the entire world, but we are most certainly changing our little corner of it. Together we rise. • #togetherwerise #InternationalWomensDay #empoweringwomen #educationandhope #PressforProgress
Happy #InternationalWomensDay! At Education and Hope we firmly believe that to successfully empower women within a society, both boys and girls need to be raised in a more inclusive environment that challenges gender stereotypes. Our commitment has always been to educate girls and boys together with equal access to opportunity and equal exposure to our fundamental belief that no human being is greater than another, regardless of race, class or gender. • However, to further these goals, in recent years we have increased our efforts to help empower the mothers in our program. We have a large population of women who are heads of household and the sole source of income for the family. Many of these women were never given the opportunity to attend school as girls and as a result, have suffered in attempts to support their families, their lack of education relegating them to exploitative poverty wages. Our most successful initiative thus far has been our Adult Literacy Program. This fall, four more of our staff received their sixth-grade diplomas! To date, all 16 of our formerly illiterate staff have completed their primary education certificates under the guidance of former scholarship recipient and current university student Rosenda Cruz. There are plans being made for continuing education in the future. • It's remarkable to witness the change in these women, the visible rise in self-confidence and self-esteem as they now write down the menus they plan each week, keeping a written record of the daily kitchen expenses, and now being able to read labels and compare products. The pride and satisfaction of participating more fully in their children's education radiate from them. With these new skills, and being able to able to more adeptly care for their families as a result, stress-levels at home have decreased, and I've watched how this has positively affected the health of the entire family. It has become more than evident that by empowering mothers we enrich the lives of the whole family. We are so proud of the accomplishments of these women, proud to be helping to lay these incremental blocks in the foundation for systemic societal change. Together we rise.