Thanks to your support, 187 abandoned and incarcerated youth have achieved a milestone they likely won’t forget for the rest of their lives. These young men and women have just graduated from the Orphan Helpers Success Academy.
During the course of the graduations at nine detention and protection center in Honduras and El Salvador, businesspeople came to witness the transformations of the youth. They came to look at the prospect of hiring some of the youth upon their release.
Graduates from last year who are now released and succeeding in their communities came back to share with the others about their journeys. They encouraged the newly-minted graduates to keep pressing on toward their goals.
Some parents who had given up on their teens attended with pride. One mother traveled two hours by bus to be there for her son’s special occasion. Another mother shared through her tears how grateful she was for people to help her son while he’s serving his sentence.
The graduates themselves said they felt a tremendous sense of accomplishment. They’d never dreamed about completing anything like this. Now, they’ve proven to themselves—and to others—that they can be successful in what they set out to pursue.
“When we first started the Academy in January, we looked at the size of the class binder and thought, ‘There’s no way we’ll ever be able to get through all that material.’ But I’m here today to say we worked hard and completed it,” one boy in the detention center said.
Along with making it through the curriculum, the youth said they now feel more equipped to rise above their circumstances. They have a desire to overcome their rough upbringings and become successful and contributing members of their communities.
As part of the Academy, the students learned about Jesus and grew in their relationships with Him. At one detention center where rival gang members are usually kept separate, all students—no matter their affiliation—came together to graduate as one class in His name.
The young men and women expressed their gratitude to the donors of Orphan Helpers for believing in them and investing in them. They were thankful that people they’ve never met would hold a graduation celebration for them to mark the achievement. Over 80% of the boys had never worn a coat and tie. When they saw the graduation pictures of themselves, their self-image skyrocketed!
Through your giving, the Orphan Helpers’ Success Academy program has grown immensely over the past three years. At one of the juvenile detention centers in El Salvador, the number of graduates went from 14 last year to 45 this year. At another center, the graduation class nearly doubled from 23 last year to 54 this year.
These numbers represent young men and women who now have a hope for a better tomorrow. Thank you.