NPH day care centre programme benefits single mothers and vulnerable children

Three-year-old Mateo* waves goodbye as his mother, Angelina, leaves him at the Centro de Cuidado Infantil Diario (CCID) La Sagrada Familia day care centre in Guatemala. She will return at 5pm to collect him knowing that he has been well looked after by qualified and caring NPH staff. Angelina receives free childcare five days a week, eight hours a day. This enables her to earn a decent living from regular employment while Mateo benefits from early childhood education.

The La Sagrada Familia day care centre run by NPH Guatemala provides free early childhood education to vulnerable children aged 2 to 4 years old so their parents or carers can go out to work to earn money for their families.
The day care centre provides free early childhood education to vulnerable children aged 2 to 4 years old

Helping parents with childcare so they can work

The CCID programme has operated in Guatemala since 2019 and serves families from disadvantaged backgrounds with very low incomes. Families are selected to participate through social work teams. The day care centre also feeds the children two nutritious meals a day and two snacks, and families receive food donations for evening meals when needed. The children benefit from free healthcare: annual medical check-ups, height and weight monitoring and flu vaccines. Importantly, the centre also identifies children at an early age who may have undiagnosed medical problems or special educational needs and supports them through their journey.

Mateo loves to sing and dance. His teachers at the nursery say that he shows his talents to them and the other children. His teacher, Teresa, recalls that one day he was sitting down during snack time and began to recite a poem and then approached her to say that he performed it for her. Teresa said, “This was a special moment. He said ‘It’s for you, teacher’. It shows me that we are doing the job well. Mateo is a very active and obedient child and very cooperative, fitting in well with the children around him.”

Mateo happily playing outside at NPH Guatemala’s Centro de Cuidada Infantil Diario (CCID) La Sagrada Familia day care centre. He attends five days a week while his mother works full-time, taking part in a variety of educational and recreational activities, as well as receiving nutritional meals and snacks.
Mateo happily playing outside at NPH Guatemala’s day care centre

NPH helps to break the cycle of poverty

According to UNICEF, Guatemala spends only 2.8% of its GDP on education, which is one of the lowest rates in Latin America, and only 40% of primary school leavers read to the expected level. Over 40% of teenagers do not attend school at all, working to support their families, and with no qualifications they only have access to low paid, temporary employment. Half of Guatemalan children suffer from malnutrition, causing lower intelligence and physical problems like illnesses and stunted growth. Families are trapped in a cycle of poverty that is passed down from generation to generation.

Children benefit socially too

Angelina is very grateful that she receives help from NPH: “I have the opportunity to work while my son is cared for by people who love and respect him, people who have been trained to care for him and feed him healthy food.” She added: “As my son was growing up there were no other children and he was very shy. Now I see that the environment has helped him because he has more social skills and has friends.”

Angelina and her son, Mateo, wave at the entrance to NPH Guatemala’s CCID day care centre where he receives free daily childcare so his mother can work and study to help break the cycle of poverty that is passed down from generation to generation in Guatemala.
Angelina and her son, Mateo, wave at the entrance to the day care centre

The programme offers young, vulnerable children early years education and healthy development in a safe and supervised environment. At Christmas time too, no child is left out. When Father Christmas visits the centre every child takes home a gift.

A child at NPH Guatemala’s CCID day care centre receives a gift from Father Christmas.
A child at NPH Guatemala’s CCID day care centre receives a gift from Father Christmas

*Privacy note

Children’s names, marked with an asterisk, have been changed to protect their privacy.

Giving back what she received: young teacher raised by NPH

Mirlanda* was only three years old when she started kindergarten at the NPH Haiti school for vulnerable children. Today, she is a confident and educated young woman who works as a teacher in the school, thanks to NPH programmes investing in her future.

School teacher at NPH Haiti
Mirlanda’s story shows the difference NPH can make to children’s lives

Tough beginnings

Haiti is the most poverty-stricken country in Latin America and the Caribbean, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line. Many children are vulnerable: maltreated, abandoned and suffering from lack of healthcare and malnutrition. The area Mirlanda lives and works in is currently under the control of armed gangs.

Her NPH mentor explains: “The current challenge for this young woman is to fight for a place in society with all the socio-political difficulties at present. She finds that day by day things are getting more complicated here in Haiti.”

Despite the economic and political situation in Haiti, NPH programmes, both residential and in the community, continue to operate to help children who live there.

Raised by the NPH family

Mirlanda was one of the lucky ones – she had a place in St. Helene, one of NPH Haiti’s residential homes in the mountains and grew up there exposed to all the development opportunities that they could offer her. It has both a primary and secondary school on-site, as well as a pre-school, farm and other amenities, which serve the 430 children who live there, as well as 350 children who come to school from the local communities.

“My name is Mirlanda. I am a young beneficiary of the programmes of NPH Haiti,” she explains, “I grew up in St. Helene, joining at a very young age where I was offered health, education and all kinds of leisure. Throughout my stay in St. Helene, I lived a very beautiful experience and learned to share, love and better understand others.”

Young female teacher addressing the children in her class who are sitting at wooden desks facing each other.
Mirlanda teaching her class

Giving back

“Now, I am a university student, thanks to the support of all our donors,” she continues, “Today, I work as a teacher at the NPH school, bringing my contribution to education, all this thanks to your support. On behalf of each of our children, a big thanks to all our sponsors. Thank you for allowing them to realise their dreams.”

Young teacher stands surrounded by children from her class who are smiling, fidgeting and laughing.
Mirlanda loves to teach and combines studying for a university degree with working in the NPH school

*Privacy note: Children’s names, marked with an asterisk, have been changed to protect their privacy.

Community programmes benefit whole families: Oscar’s story

Oscar* is 6 years old – a smiling, happy child who loves to play football. With the help of NPH’s ‘Centro de Bienestar Infantil’ (Child Well-being Centre) or CBI, he receives free education, nutritious meals and childcare so that his parents are able to work to support the family. NPH El Salvador sponsors 261 children in the local communities so they can receive a formal education from kindergarten to ninth grade while their parents work to provide for them.

Small happy boy at school colouring
Oscar enjoys coming to school every day

Helping parents with childcare so they can work

In El Salvador, poverty is high and the literacy rate is low, with 18% of the general population unable to read or write. Families cannot afford to send their children to school and older children must work to provide family income. The majority of Salvadoran children under 6 have no access to a preschool education at all.

Oscar is the youngest of three brothers – his parents don’t have formal jobs but sell fast food and Mexican ‘tortas’ (sandwiches) in a cart on the street to earn enough to rent their home and feed their children.

School setting offered free from infancy to high school

In 2017, two free programmes were started to support the needs of the local communities – the daycare centre ‘CBI’ and ‘Becas Comunitarias Padre Wasson’ (Father Wasson Community Scholarships), both of which provide quality education to local children, covering tuition, books, uniform and school supplies.

Children cross the road on their way to school.
Children receive free education and help with the costs of school supplies

Oscar’s mother, Ana, recalls: “When they started a programme for the kids from the outside communities, it has benefited us a lot. Before having the opportunity to send my boys to NPH, I remember I was worried about their education. But thank God, we have now this opportunity that helps them with education but also with food and medical care.”

She added: “The education that children receive is great. I have noticed that my boys have learned a lot.”

Community children receive nutritious meals

As part of the programme, they receive two healthy meals and two snacks per day, helping with their physical development as they grow from infants to children, despite the local poverty rate being high and many local children suffering from malnutrition. Chefs at NPH develop menus based on a balanced diet, including chicken, meat, rice, vegetables and fruits. Oscar’s favourite dish is fried chicken with rice. The children also receive regular medical check-ups.

Small boy eating nutritious food
Oscar gets healthy meals and snacks to help his development

Safe place for children to learn and grow

Oscar has attended the programme since he was 2 years old and goes every day from 7am to 3pm. He says: “Hi, I like to come to NPH. I like going to school. I like to play with my friends and I like to eat delicious food.”

Two-year-old smiling boy joining kindergarten for the first time
Oscar when he was 2 years old

Oscar enjoys colouring and drawing but his favourite activity is playing football with his friends. He is preparing to join Grade 1 next year and his teacher, Diana, says that he is a polite child and very helpful.

“Recently,” she explains, “I experienced a situation where Oscar was very helpful for me. We were getting ready for an activity that involved a lot of previous preparation. His classmates were taking a rest after lunch, but Oscar did not want to rest, he wanted to help me and he insisted on doing so. I felt really moved by the situation and gave him the opportunity to help me.”

“My wish for the future,” she adds, “is that my students, especially Oscar, have the opportunity to continue receiving the support at NPH.”

Impact of NPH programmes

Oscar’s mother Ana can’t praise the programme enough: “The impact that NPH has on my children is great because they are able to learn while I am able to work. It is a great benefit and the education they provide is excellent.” Diana, his teacher, agrees: “Oscar is developing quite well. We have been able to see the growth that he has had; how he has evolved. He is learning a lot. He knows many skills but he needs to continue receiving the support that NPH provides so he is able to develop completely and learn more.”

Bright futures start young

Oscar and his brothers all attend the El Salvador NPH programme and his mother is very appreciative: “My hopes and dreams for the future are that Oscar is able to continue studying and become a professional.” Oscar says: “When I grow up, I want to be a police officer, a chef and a football player!”

Through this programme, these boys and many other children – supported by NPH – receive free quality education, healthy nutritious meals and regular medical check-ups, as well as free childcare so their families in the community can work to provide a better future for them.

NPH community programmes transform the lives of vulnerable children through education, healthcare and family support.

*Privacy note: Children’s names, marked with an asterisk, have been changed to protect their privacy.