The funny square hats and black robes…the happy parents holding back tears of pride…the long-winded speeches…these are all signs it is graduation season. And we have a lot of students to celebrate with! In the past year, 118 Childcare Worldwide students have graduated (or are about to graduate) from college or trade school!

A group of about 30 students pose for the camera in black graduation robes, with brightly colored leis and ribbons around their necks.

Congratulations to all the students graduating this year!

Even here in the United States, with our relatively high graduation rates, graduation ceremonies are a big deal. But for the kids we serve in developing countries, it is even more important. You see, to them, graduation day is one giant step on the path out of poverty. Many of them are the first in their families to finish school!

We hear it over and over again from their parents:

I want a better life for my children than what I got. I dreamed of becoming a doctor (or a nurse, or a business owner, or a pilot….) but I never got to finish school.

Each of these 118 kids have faced enormous hurdles to make it to graduation day. School fees, books, and uniforms all cost money, which had to be scraped together somehow. And that was just to get through primary and secondary school. College and trade school represented another huge financial burden.

Not only that, many of them rarely had enough food to eat. Choosing to go to school meant choosing to not spend the day working for food. When they did go to school they were often too hungry to focus. And on top of all that, they had limited access to clean water and sanitation facilities, and little or no access to medical care.

As we celebrate their graduations, we recognize where they started and celebrate just how far they’ve come!

Thankfully, Childcare Worldwide was able to intervene in all of these kids’ lives, offering help with their physical needs and the ongoing financial support they needed to finish their education. But it is only each individual’s mental grit and dedication that got them where they are today. We couldn’t be more proud of what they’ve overcome and what they’ve accomplished!

One student who is graduating soon is a young woman named Stella. She lives in Entebbe, Uganda, and attends Nkumba University. Early in her life, University didn’t seem remotely in reach. Stella is an orphan. Her dad died when she was just two years old, and her mom died of Tuberculosis a few years later. Her aunt and uncle took her and her siblings in, but they had children of their own to care for also. There was never enough money to feed them all, let alone send them to school. It seemed like Stella might not even be able to finish primary school!

But then she was sponsored through Childcare Worldwide! She didn’t have to worry about school fees any more. Instead she could just focus on working hard to achieve her ambitions and dreams!  And for Stella, that made all the difference.

Despite the hardship she’s faced, Stella is going to be a lawyer!

In October, she will graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Law. With her degree in hand, she will take the bar exam, and assuming she passes, take one final year of school. Then she will be an attorney, and be able to practice law in any East African country!

Stella says,

“I chose law because I saw so much child sacrifice, kids missing, people in jail for crimes they never did. So I really want to be a human rights activist.”

Way to go Stella!

And congratulations to ALL the students who graduated this year. Each one has a story like Stella’s. We have 10 students who graduated in Haiti, 30 in Kenya, 2 in Peru, 1 in Sri Lanka, 7 in Thailand, 1 in the Philippines, and 67 in Uganda! They’re studying everything from hairdressing to aeronautical engineering! Many of them have chosen fields in education. Others are pursuing careers in the medical field, planning to become counselors, nurses, and health administrators.

Whatever they are studying, each of these 118 students is living their dream. Congratulations to every single one of them!