When I moved down here, people often asked me what I was most excited for. Having been traveling back and forth for so many years with just short visits, my answer was easy. My answer was days like this:
Last Friday, we celebrated Proniño graduation for 13 teenagers that completed a phase of their education. Some of them were awarded their diploma of competency in welding and electricity. Others were celebrated for completing 9th grade. Some of them received both of those diplomas.
I had dreamed of being able to be present for days like this. Days when I have even more reason to remind these kids how awesome they are. Days when I can tell them how proud of them I am, and know that deep down, they are proud of themselves too.
(OK fine, and days when I can be the obnoxious cheering section and beg them for way too many pictures).
Graduation for these kids is about a lot more than just doing what needs to get done to get the shiny piece of paper at the end. These kids are defying the odds. They have fought through addictions, abuse, and/or the inevitable struggles that come along with living in a
children’s home. They have taken charge of their education, being responsible for their homework and balance of responsibilities. Not all of them had family in the audience, clapping extra loud when their name was called to come forward.
But I do want to mention one of the children who did…..
Remember Edgar? I wrote about him here a few weeks ago. Long story short, he was very recently reunited with his mother, from whom he had been separated for 11 years. Want to take a guess at who was in the audience to watch Edgar receive his diploma on Friday?
His family has been absent for his entire education. But Friday, they showed up. And Friday, they got to celebrate the success that Edgar has had and the man he has become. More than just receiving his diploma, Edgar decided to make his way to the podium and say a few words. He publicly thanked his family for making the trip to share in this day. He publicly thanked Proniño for their patience.
“I know I’ve had some problems along the way, so I just want to thank Proniño for being patient and giving me so many second opportunities.”
Our goal is to invest in the kids. To believe in them when they don’t believe in themselves. To celebrate every bit of success, and to be there when the days aren’t so good. To give them a “no-matter-what” kind of trust. All of the kids that graduated on Friday have faced battles far greater than anything I could fathom. I can’t relate to the things they have experienced. But I can love them well. I can stand in awe of their accomplishments. I can remind them day in and day out that I think they are incredible individuals of whom I am so proud. That, in a nutshell, is why I have dreamed of days like Friday. Because even if they won’t admit it, my words rang a little truer on Friday than they would on any other day. They have a tangible example of something to be proud of.
What a privilege it is to celebrate them.