Victor Cortez, the FH regional director for Latin America and country director for Guatemala, has served with Food for the Hungry for 18 years. His academic/professional background involves agricultural engineering, business, marketing, and environmental management. He challenges us at Food for the Hungry to give all glory to God and to listen to God’s teaching, even when it is uncomfortable.
Victor wrote the article below to comment on a group of adults with disabilities who promote education in Peru by providing school supplies through FH. He knows that every little bit counts.
In rural areas of Latin America, two out of five children do not complete elementary school. This lack of access to education has an impact on poverty levels, as people with more education are more likely to have better jobs and salaries.
One might suppose the lack of access to middle and higher levels of education in rural areas actually generates poverty, since it is more difficult to find employment with little or no education. In addition, young people who do not go to school or who drop out are more vulnerable to violence, delinquency and the possibility of joining gangs.
The main reasons young people do not continue in school in rural areas are:
- lack of resources to pay for tuition and materials
- parents want their children to help with agricultural work or to find jobs so they can contribute to the family income
- parents do not think education is a benefit — they consider it a cost and not an investment
For these reasons, FH places a high importance on supporting the young people in rural areas so they continue in their studies. FH does this by encouraging parents to invest in higher levels of education for their children — explaining the value of education and encouraging parents to provide school fees and materials as they are able. FH often will provide these things if a family can’t.
In this way, many young people gain the opportunity to continue and complete their studies. Particularly, we are seeing a number of educated girls who are now serving their communities with their professions.
They have a son, Joshua, and a daughter, Abigail.