Ronaldo: Hope for the Future
In August we announced a new Secondary Education Loan Product which will be incorporated into our portfolio at the beginning of next year. The loan looks to address a multitude of societal problems faced by Honduras’ younger generation, including low secondary school attendance, high unemployment and underemployment, and the violent crime that often comes as a result of these issues. Ronaldo is one teenager who, against all odds, has continued working hard. However, despite his hard work, he has not been able to stay in school and fulfill his dream of studying business administration.
“If I only had a bicycle”
Like in many areas where we work, Ronaldo’s community only has an elementary school. Without the economic resources to pay for a bus or even a bicycle, Ronaldo entered seventh grade walking an hour to and from school each day. However, this long walk under the extreme heat of northern Honduras made him so discouraged that he told his mom that he could no longer handle the long and left school to begin working.
Now 15 years old and restless to get back in school, Ronaldo begged his mother to return. The oldest of three boys, he wanted to set a good example for his brothers and knew that he wouldn’t be able to reach his potential without a high school degree. Unfortunately, his parents did not have enough money for him to re-enter school. As both he and his mother stress, the greatest barrier to his education is transportation. “If only I had a bicycle” he says, the trip would be shorter, enabling him to get to school in just half an hour.
“He comes home from work each day with just $2.40-$6.30.”
In order to be productive and not another ‘ni-ni’ (title given to youth who neither study nor work, from the Spanish ‘ni trabaja ni estudia’) in his neighborhood, Ronaldo began working in various workshops after dropping out of seventh grade – as a painter, mechanic and welder. Now, he feels lucky to be working in a supermarket under better conditions, although his daily wages are very low. As a grocery bagger, Ronaldo works six days a week without receiving any type of salary or wage. Instead, his earnings depend on the generosity of customers to tip him for his work.
In Honduras, high school degrees are specialized under various career tracks so that youth are prepared to start their careers upon graduation. This system is especially important because of low attendance rates at the university level. First, Ronaldo hopes to return to school to finish middle school, and then to go on to high school to study business administration.
His favorite subject in school was always math, and he is certain that with the right preparation, he will be able to become a successful businessman in the future. When talking about his future, Ronaldo showed a spark in his eye of a young person with a set goal and the potential to achieve anything. He was quick to ask more about what the loan would entail and how he would be able to benefit from the product. After his mother was unable to enroll him in school again this year, Ronaldo is now hopeful for the coming school year in February.
“I see the needs that my parents have and I want to be able to support them.”
Beyond thinking about his own future, he is also thinking about his parents’ needs. Until recently, the family of five lived together in a small home made of palm branches. During a storm this past May, a strong gust of wind knocked the materials that previously made up the house to the ground. Fortunately, the small but stable business selling clothing gave Ronaldo’s mother Norma the opportunity to apply for and quickly receive a Home Improvement Loan from Adelante in July for about $770 so that they could rebuild with stronger materials. At this stage, the house is almost complete and the family hopes to move in soon.
This Home Improvement Loan was created with the same mindset with which we created the Secondary Education Loan: to enable hard working women to make investments into their families’ basic needs that they would otherwise not be able to consider. The cost of purchasing the necessary materials to build a house made out of cement limited Ronaldo’s family from doing so sooner. However, the urgency of having completely lost the home allowed us to quickly intervene so that the family would have a better, more secure infrastructure that protects them from the wind and rain.
With this same perspective, the Secondary Education Loan is now being created to support the children of women like Norma who are unable to enroll in school due to the high costs of uniforms, textbooks and administrative fees required at the beginning of a school year. These costs are then exacerbated by the daily transportation and food costs. Right now, Ronaldo’s greatest concern is purchasing a bicycle to get to school but as the school year approaches the costs of purchasing a uniform and textbooks will also add up. By supporting our clients with these costs that often come at once, we will be able to get children like Ronaldo back in school, and spark a change for the next generation of Honduras.