Teaching My Father to Read

A father chooses to invest in his daughter’s education — an investment that would pay off in ways he never could have imagined.
Blanca Elvira Tucubal Montalvan, right, with her mother, Maria, and father, Enrique. Blanca was sponsored as a child and grew up to become a teacher.

Every night, Enrique hunched over a worn Bible, running his fingers across the tissue-thin pages. It took him hours to read a chapter, and by the end his head ached from the effort.

From the corner of their small home, Blanca watched her father struggle.

It was this image of her father, barely literate, with just a third-grade education, that kept Blanca going. It was what she thought of when she overheard neighbors tell her parents that educating a daughter was pointless.

She remembered it when she watched her peers drop out of school to get jobs that enabled them to bring home milk and bread for their families.

Most of all, she remembered it every Sunday when her father stood before their church and preached from those verses he had labored over and memorized. His hard work and dedication inspired her to forge a path different from her friends’ lives.

In the small Guatemalan community where Blanca grew up, few girls were educated past elementary school.

“We did not have much at home,” remembers Blanca, “but my parents made sure I got an education. It was something that did not happen much. Since I was a girl, the popular belief was that instead of investing in my education, I should learn to cook and clean because the only thing I could aspire to was to be housewife, and all my schooling would have been in vain.”

But Enrique wanted more for his seven daughters, including Blanca, who was the oldest. He and his wife had decided to make education a priority in their family, one of the reasons they had enrolled Blanca in a Compassion center near their home.

Blanca checks her students' work at her home in Guatemala.

Through her sponsorship, Blanca was able to go to middle school and high school. But as she grew older, she struggled in a culture that taught she should be providing for her family, not wasting her time in school. During summers and school breaks Blanca worked at a factory — but her parents wouldn’t let her ignore her schoolwork.

“I remember when I got my first paycheck I went running back home,” says Blanca. “I gave my parents all my money and told them that I would keep working to help my other sisters stay in school. But they refused to let me drop out of school.”

Eventually, as Blanca watched her father struggle, she began to understand the value of education. As a teen she applied for a university scholarship, and she went on to study education, graduating with a degree in pedagogy.

“I did not always understand what Blanca was doing when she did her homework,” says Enrique, “but I just knew I had to support her because I always wanted what was best for her.”

After graduating, Blanca began volunteering with a group who helped adults learn to read and write. And one of her first students was Enrique.

“I made sure I signed my father up as one of my students,” says Blanca. “I taught him grammar, vocabulary, math and all the required subjects so he could graduate.”

Today, Enrique can proudly say he is a high school graduate. But he’d rather brag about his daughter. Blanca is a full-time teacher in her community, and she still helps teach adults like her father who never had a chance to complete their education.

“Getting my education through Compassion — it helped my family in so many ways,” says Blanca. “Our financial situation was hard, so when my parents took us to the Compassion center, they thought we would only get help with school. We did not know all the blessings that would come afterward. God used the Compassion program to grant my family the wishes of our hearts.”

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September 2017

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Teaching My Father to Read

A father chooses to invest in his daughter’s education — an investment that would pay off in ways he never could have imagined.

Teen’s Church Wouldn’t Give Up on Her

When a sponsored girl discovered her parents’ drug business, she needed her Compassion center more than ever.

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