The Sisters of Mary Search for the Poorest of the Poor Children
World Villages for Children supports the Boystowns and Girlstowns operated by the Sisters of Mary in the Philippines, Mexico, Guatemala, Brazil, Honduras, and Tanzania. At these live-in schools, the sisters educate and care for more than 20,000 children living in extreme poverty at no cost to the children’s families.
The Sisters begin recruiting boys and girls from all countries where our Villages are located in July of each year and continue through October. They travel to some of the poorest regions, despite the limited infrastructure and potential risks, to ensure they reach the children who most need help.
To be accepted into the program, boys and girls need to pass an entrance exam to make sure they have the educational prerequisites to succeed in our schools. They prioritize admitting the poorest of the poor – children whose families cannot afford enough food, who have had to leave school to help earn money, or who have been orphaned or abandoned.
The Beginning of a New Life
Children arrive at the Villages in early January for the start of the school year. Many of the first-year students are amazed to find that for the first time in their lives, they have their own bed and clothing that belong just to them. Many also need to be taught how to use the toilets and showers as their homes had no running water.
At each of the Boystowns and Girlstowns, the children are divided into groups of about 50, which they refer to as families.
These families eat their meals together, share a sleeping area, and have their own Mother-Sister – a Sister of Mary is assigned to care for that group. Children also receive regular medical and dental care while at school.
Life at Our Schools
Most of our Boystowns and Girlstowns offer middle and high school education and children spend about 5 years going through our program.
They are taught a range of subjects including math, natural sciences, social sciences, English, Spanish and/or other local languages, religion, music, and art. Our students receive intensive vocational training tailored to local industries and businesses. Boys and girls also participate in several sports while at our schools.
They are also given the opportunity to nurture their mental, spiritual, and emotional well-being. They receive faith formation, allowing them to learn and go deeper into their faith. Counseling and emotional support are offered, as well. Many of our students have endured a lot in their young lives, and we see the importance of giving them a safe place to discuss those matters.
Life After Our Schools
Graduates of our schools have gone on to become teachers, doctors, engineers, lawyers, architects, chemists, government officials, and business managers, among many other professions. Most stay involved with our schools throughout their lives, returning for different celebrations, volunteering their time or expertise, hiring subsequent graduates, and helping the Sisters identify families who need the Sisters’ help. Many of the children who go through our programs also go on to pay for the education of their younger siblings and invest in their local communities, helping to change the lives of their entire family tree.
The Exponential Impact of Our Schools
Not only do our Boystowns and Girlstowns empower tens-of-thousands of children to go from living in extreme poverty with little control over where their next meal would come from to being self-sufficient, productive members of society, but they also transform these children into forces for good within their communities. Through this model, investing in one child’s future has an exponential effect in the fight against global poverty.
We are so grateful to all of our generous supporters who have made this work possible. Your kindness has transformed the lives of 160,000 children and counting.