Our new strategy entailed giving classes within the garbage dump itself (as we had done out of necessity in AFE’s early beginnings). Although we had classrooms and desks available for the students, our sole purpose was recruitment. We hoped that if we brought education to where the children were working, they would be more likely to attend classes and feel comfortable there, and then catch the vision for education.
In January 2010, our principal (Jesy Ordonez) and a number of volunteers went up into the garbage dump Monday, Wednesday and Friday of each week and once again used old tires as desks. They encountered some delightful children who have quickly found their way into our hearts. And we offered adult education as well to whoever expressed interest. After three months, we moved our students down to our campus (including the adults into our adult education program in the afternoons).
In April of 2010 we welcome twenty-two new students to AFE, all of whom had worked hard collecting garbage before they were recruited. Then began the process of integration. Although the rest of AFE’s students had also worked in the garbage dump, for most of them it had been years since they had set foot in that disgusting place, and the difference in them was apparent.
When the new students moved down to AFE’s campus, we started most of them in our special education program, since they were behind their classmates in their grade level. This gradual process helped the students to build relationships at AFE and feel more comfortable there. Of course, AFE’s other students received them warmly. Then, one by one, we moved them into their proper grade level. And the results at the end of the year were astounding.
In December of 2010, twenty-two new children from the garbage dump finished their first year at AFE and graduated from their respective grades. We are delighted to have these new children as part of our family. Please pray for these year’s effort, “Greater Presence in the Garbage Dump” and the new children who will join us soon.
Jefry, Oscar and Ariel graduated from kindergarten this year.
They are nearly unrecognizable from the children in the garbage dump last January.