The IHER Semillas de Esperanza project was launched this month with the start of the new school year. Seventy children, who wouldn’t otherwise have been able to attend school, received scholarships and are now enrolled in school. The children were chosen based on essays they submitted explaining how they wanted to use their educations to help their communities.

John (left) with two other students who will help with the Caja Rural

The second part of the Semillas de Esperanza project will consist of student-led projects that are intended to teach students important project management and leadership skills to improve their employability and help them be successful in life. Scholarship recipients are invited to submit project proposals, and the first project chosen to receive funding was submitted by a 14-year-old student named John. His proposed project is a Caja Rural, or rural savings and loan, which will help community members initiate small microenterprises. John will lead the project (under the mentorship of community adults) and many other students will be involved.

John is passionate about justice and community development. Excerpts from his scholarship essay include:

In my community there are many problems, but the biggest problem is that they want to build a hydroelectric dam. The dam will only benefit mining activity, and the injured are many people from nearby communities, since the trees are felled and water comes with residue and mud color. My family and many families have had to buy water. With an education I will give talks and information to people so they will speak up and fight. We do not fight for ourselves, we fight for the new generations so they do not come into this world to suffer. For that reason, I will use my education to avoid at all costs the felling of trees and the contamination of air and water. The millionaires only think about themselves and do not look at the damage they cause to poor people. Water is life and we must fight to live.

This idealistic young man says he “wishes with all his heart to help propel development in his community.” We are confident he will succeed!