For children growing up in a stable home environment, “tomorrow” is ever-present. Goal-setting and future-dreaming are bread and butter, and loved ones pepper young ones with “What are your hopes and dreams?” and “What do you think you would like to do when you grow up?” Answers are expected to become more serious as time goes on – but are often met with encouragement that “you can accomplish anything you set your mind to,” or “You are limited only by your willingness to work toward your dream.”
Children blessed to be born into that situation have hopes and dreams for their future – even amidst roadblocks, success and self-sufficiency are attainable. But orphaned and abandoned children all too often don’t have a hope like this.
Dreaming became a luxury when their support system wasn’t there to encourage it, and goals may be just as out-of-reach. This is where Horizon sets itself apart.
Our focus reaches beyond caring for children in need, extending to empowerment lasting, ideally, generations. It’s an ambitious goal, which needs careful planning and sustained effort by in-country staff.
As the kids become teenagers, they sit down with a social worker who helps awaken their dreams with those basic questions: “What are your dreams?” “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” “What do you want to achieve in life?” Those lofty questions lead to other, more practical questions. “What steps can we take now to help you get there?” “What will be the next steps?” This process helps the children think through these difficult questions as they build confidence in this: if they do their part, Horizon will support them every step of the way. As they age, they move from the theoretical to the practical, and a Life Coach steps in to help implement the plan the social worker helped create.
These plans don’t all look the same, by any means. When children arrive at a Micro Community, some are behind their peers in many respects. Trauma, poverty, and lack of access to education means they may have to make extra effort. Navigating these different cases takes special care, and a key element in the process is ensuring all the young people have multiple pathways to success – Sofia* is a classic example.
When she arrived at the home in Guatemala several years ago, Sofia had never attended school. Now 17, she continues with her studies as a dedicated junior high student with an accelerated curriculum. Although she will turn 18 in just a couple months, she can continue her formal studies toward her long-term goal of becoming a nurse. But while Sofia continues to move toward this dream, which will require several more years after completing high school, she will enroll in a local beauty school — a longtime personal passion for Sofia.
“It is good to see the young people progressing toward achieving their goals and to have a part in supporting them,” said Liliana, the social worker at Casa de Esperanza. “In Sofia’s case, I am very excited to see her flourish and develop. She is shy but talented, and I hope this beauty school course can help her gain more confidence along with developing a marketable skill.”
The staff truly seek to empower our young adults, encouraging them to grow and explore their gifts. There is redemption written into the story: Sofia represents whole communities, entire families, who are beginning to ask questions: “What would I like to do when I grow up?” “What are my hopes and dreams?” Just like Sofia’s future clients, the answers are a beautiful sight to behold.
*Child’s name for security.