A KKIS student’s journey to graduation is rarely without a few bumps
Phones to do their homework?
“Who has the phone?” shouts Miguel, a 13yr old boy living with his family in Playa del Carmen.
“I do,” shouts his 15-year-old sister.
“I need it now!” Miguel says in a condescending tone.
“You have to wait a few more minutes, my homework is uploading.”
“I’ll be up all night,” Miguel mutters under his breath. “Thanks sis!! He slumps down into an old tattered chair, waiting impatiently.
Why does a 13-year-old boy need to use his sister’s phone to complete his homework? Why does she upload her homework from a phone? And how long does that really take? What if Uncle Pedro calls?
This is a scene that plays itself out daily in the Riviera Maya. That’s because students here must deal with the issue of not having internet in their homes. The problem goes deeper when you realize that some homes don’t even have electricity.
Despite all of this, these promising students are still doing their best to complete their homework and class assignments. That’s because these students have big dreams. The biggest one is to graduate high school so they can get a job that will pay them enough to buy their own phone.
It sounds easy doesn’t it? But not everyone has the same options.The siblings mentioned above all must share the family phone. Often a family of three to five people will share a single phone, which usually goes with a parent to their job during the day. The remainder of the family can only share it in the evenings.
Imagine your kids sharing a phone. Now picture all of them doing their homework on that one phone, because there no other device in the house with internet capabilities.
There are many families like Miguel’s that require financial assistance for school who don’t have a computer at home. This is only one of many obstacles that these promising students face on a daily basis.
How did you get to school?
When you live in a city or the suburbs, schools usually have defined routes for school buses. If you don’t take the bus it’s likely that a parent will drive or you or there’s a carpool available. When you get to high school, you may even drive yourself or catch a ride with a friend. Biking or walking to school is also quite common.
Now imagine yourself living in a neighborhood that is full of dirt roads that are filled with car swallowing potholes. The kinds of roads that flood with heavy rains, making them impossible to use. Perhaps you or your neighbors don’t even own a car.
In Playa del Carmen, we have transport called colectivos. These are mini vans that drive a specific route, much like a city bus. These often serve as a substitute for proper school transportation, but they are mostly used along main routes such as the highway or main roads. For people living in the outskirts of the city, stops can often be a mile or two from the homes.
Imagine you’re a teenager who must ride one of these colectivo vans for an hour each way, every day, just to get to school and back.The downtime during these journeys is not productive, and the opportunity for distractions is ever present.
It’s not always about money
Economics and finances are at the center of many things in our lives. In the Riviera Maya wages are very low, and people struggle with little to survive.
Carlos comes from a family with a strong work ethic. His grandfather started working on cars in their yard many years ago. Eventually, his father and grandfather joined forces and started a body shop repair service together.
Among the family, it is expected that Carlos will become be a third-generation auto body repairman. The big issue here is that Carlos doesn’t want that for himself. he wants to become an architect, and he wants to help build the future.
Carlos is gifted in art and numbers, so his father thinks that’s the perfect skill set to work in the family business. Many family dinners have centered around this topic. The parents think it’s a match made in heaven, but Carlos doesn’t have the same passion for cars. He won’t be happy spending his days replacing bumpers and sanding Bondo.
You can see that this family struggle contains several options, so let’s break them down.
1- If Carlos stays in high school there will a cost, since school is not free for grades 10-12. This would cost the family around $600 USD per year for 3 years.
2- Carlos can work in the family business, and therefore make more money for the household. Instead of spending money, the business can provide more for everyone
3- Carlos wants to move away from the family business and do his own thing. It’s something that the others fear because they can’t imagine what the results will be. These parents are not intentionally holding their children back. But this fear of the unknown causes them to make the safe, comfortable decisions.
4- The family will be distanced from Carlos when he becomes a professional working in an office. This socio-economic reality is the leading causes for students not completing their high school education.
So what can Carlos do? Does he follow his dream or let his family determine his future?
How You Can Help
KKIS provides financial resources for school, as well as other out-of-pocket resources, so students like Carlos can stay in school and pursue their dreams.
KKIS also provides mentors, counselors, and advisors to help with family dynamics, career choices, and expectations. We also offer guidance so they can best navigate the many obstacles they will face on their journey to graduation.
Since 2015, only 21 out of 229 KKIS scholarship students have left our program before graduating. We believe that their exposure to KKIS volunteers, staff, and programs helped prepare them to navigate the difficult road ahead.
Providing these resources is the best way that a community can help students like Carlos shape the future of Riviera Maya. We often assume that students here have the same resources as their counterparts in other countries. But that’s not always be the case.
Here in the Riviera Maya students face challenges and obstacles that students in the United States and Canada are unfamiliar with. We want to encourage you to help these promising students with a monthly donation so we can Keep Kids in School!!
High school and university scholarships are the most powerful ways to positively change lives. By educating one child it impacts the entire family.