It’s just about the end of summer vacation here in Peru and almost every store is full of school supplies and big sales on notebooks, markers, crayons, and the such. As the majority of our Girasoles boys are preparing to return to elementary or high scholol in a week or so*, we wanted to tell you about an opportunity that four of our boys were given.
In 2012, the Peruvian government started a higher education scholarship program called Beca 18. There are quite a few different scholarship categories available for applicants like high grades, students living in the VRAEM (an area of Peru that still has low terrorist activity), members of the Peruvian military and students that live in albergues (childrens homes like our Casas Girasoles).
The Beca 18 scholarship is a great opportunity for any of its recipients and offers programs of study in both the university and institute (technical school) levels. The scholarship covers tuition, provides the student with a monthly stipend for housing, food and transportation, English classes, a new laptop, uniform for classes (like a suit if needed), private insurance and a few other things. It is a great opportunity for students who would not necessarily have access to higher education studies.
At the end of January, Billy and I were contacted by a few employees from Pronabec, the government body that manages the Beca 18 scholarships, to see if we had any boys in our homes that were eligible for the children’s home category. To apply for a university program, students need a minimum average of 15 out of 20 during their 5 years of high school study and for institute programs a minimum average of 13. Pronabec has a maximum 200 spots to fill within the children’s home category and when they contacted us on January 23rd, there were only 7 applicants and the deadline to apply was just two weeks later on February 7th.
We managed to put together a small group of boys from 4 different homes that met the age and grade requirements and helped them apply for the scholarship.
Wilfredo (Sacred Valley), Daniel (Kawai/Ica), Eloy (Kusi) and Huberth (Kawai) are our 4 applicants from Girasoles for this year. Wilfredo and Huberth both applied to the Universidad San Ignacio de Loyola to study chemical engineering and urban planning while both Eloy and Daniel applied to the Instituto Emprendedores to study business administration.
Here in Peru, to apply to a university or institute program a student sits an entrance exam that is offered by the school. Unlike in the States where high school seniors take a standardized test like the SAT or ACT and then apply to as many schools as they would like, here students have to pay to take an exam at each school they apply to. They also are accepted into the school within their degree of study – there is no such thing as an undeclared major. If you start off studying business and decide to change to education, you have to stop studying, reapply to an education program (which might be a different school) and start all over again.
One of the first things the boys had to do to apply for the scholarship was take the admission exams. Both USIL and Emprendedores are located in Lima, so all 4 boys came to the city and at one point, we had all four of them staying with us at our apartment. We all were anxious about their exams, and were very excited and relieved to hear that they all passed and were accepted into the university/institute program pending the outcome of the scholarship.
After that great news (and sigh of relief for the boys), we started on the process of getting all of their paperwork in order. Since they were applying for the children’s home category, they needed a document stating that they were residents of one of our homes. They also needed to fill out an application with general information, a socio-economic form and an official copy of their high school transcripts for all 5 years which also needed to be reviewed by the local school board.
It was a long week of gathering papers, signing documents, and stamping fingerprints which took us all over the city of Lima, and even down to Mala (about 60 minutes south of Lima, just outside of Kawai) at one point. Thankfully, all of the documents were submitted and accepted by the deadline.
Since the submission of their documents, we have been asked by Pronabec to include a few other documents that weren’t originally stated on the list (like a copy of Wilfredo’s guardian’s ID card since he is a minor and that the school transcripts to be reviewed by all of the school districts where they studied – not just their final year. For 2 of the boys, this required an additional 1 or 2 stamps which was a much longer and more complicated process than you would think). Thankfully with a little patience and perseverance these were all submitted.
Pronabec let us know that they will publicize the recipients of the scholarships by the end of March, so now we wait. All four boys are anxious to hear the results of their application and the future that it brings. Please pray for them during these next few weeks. Pray that they would be recipients of the scholarship and if not, that they would be at peace with the outcome. We’re proud of their accomplishments thus far and are excited to see what the future holds for them.
We’re thankful to all of the people who donated towards the Girasoles’ higher education in 2013, and we are excited to see how God is multiplying those donations.
* * If you’re interested in supporting our younger elementary and high school Girasoles boys through a donation to buy school supplies and uniforms, please let us know. We would be grateful for your help.