If you had to map the plot of your life what would it look like? What defining moments stand out as the turning points, the peaks and valleys? Students in our Scholarship & Youth Development Program recently explored this question during a workshop centered on healing from trauma.

a student with his life map

Victor with his life map

These stories are not easy to read, but they are important. We know that you, dear CoEd supporters, are the type of people who do not run away from pain. Instead you will sit in the dirt with your suffering neighbors, dry their tears, and turn their faces once again toward the sun. That’s what makes you so special, and that’s why we want to share these stories with you today: to give you a clear picture of the tears that you are drying when you sponsor a student.

If you’re interested, read these excerpts from the field notes that Katie, our Manager of Program Strategy and Evaluation, took while observing the recent workshop:


Before he was killed, Jazmin’s dad was an alcoholic and hit her mom a lot. He had a mistress with whom he had a son, and also slept with other women around town. There are rumors that it was over one of those women that he was killed. Jazmin was always his favorite child and he was always affectionate with her and never hit her. “That was something that I always really appreciated about my dad – he never hit me.” Jazmin’s mom hits her a lot, sometimes for no reason. She’s the oldest in her family and now feels scared and hopeless: she wants to drop out of school, and she has struggled with suicidal thoughts. When her dad was alive, she heard a lot of threats from people who didn’t like him that they were going to hurt her or rape her, but she always felt confident that her dad would protect her. Now that he’s gone, she feels scared to go anywhere. Her dream is to be an architect or work in tourism.


Maritza’s father abandoned her family when she was very young, and she was always sad that she didn’t have a dad. But her older brother played the role of father in her life: every morning he would come into her room to tell her he loved her, and he always took care of their family. Then one day Maritza got in a fight with her brother and didn’t speak to him a few days, but one of those days he didn’t come home and she found out that he’d been killed.


Victor used to be very disrespectful and even cruel to other students in the program. His dad is abusive. But at this session, it was evident that he’s matured a ton. He was respectful and participative and determined to achieve his dreams. His parents separated last year, but he’s taken it as a positive thing.

students support each other during the workshops

Thanks to you, these young students and hundreds like them now have the opportunity to rise above their current situation, by completing their education so that they can support themselves above the poverty line. A major peak on almost every student’s life map was receiving their CoEd scholarship.

And it’s not just the money to continue studying that keeps these young people in school. It’s the knowledge that their sponsor believes in them, and the workshops, mentoring, service activities, and eye-opening field trips that really make the difference. After sharing their experiences of trauma, the students in this workshop went on to discuss how they can manage fear and stress, focus on their personal strengths, maintain a positive outlook, control their own reactions, and prevent and heal from trauma.

Truly you have turned their faces toward the sun.

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