The Problem: Our stars are forced to deal with the circumstances of extreme poverty on a day-today basis. The mothers are often single and are responsible for many children due to their lack of sexual education. Many of these mothers make so little that their lifestyle is day-to-day survival, and the family often has to make do with minimal to zero food depending on what the mother earns that day. When school starts in March, the families face a mountain of expenses for school materials, uniforms, and administrative costs. This throws their financial balance completely out of balance, so they end up taking out loans with high interest rates, buying groceries on credit, and allowing negative influences into their lives that often bring ulterior motives. The Solution:Chaska assumes all of the girls' yearly education expenses until they complete their desired level of education so that their families can experience a greater semblance of financial stability. They also receive many other financial benefits that they would otherwise not have access to. Our budget also helps cover the expenses of the services we provide them with at our offices every day after school. They gain access to electricity, clean running water, sanitary conditions, classrooms, computers, internet, a library, balanced nutritious meals, tutors, focused small group classes, and more. They love this center so much that some stay as late as they can every day so they don't have to go home. Learn more about our budget and how you can help us provide financial support under the "Donate" tab of the "How To Help" section.
2. Educational Support
The Problem: The public education system in Cusco has a great deal of flaws that are not easily fixable. Most prevalent is the lack of sufficient funds which leads to large class sizes and a lack of quality learning materials. Teachers tend to be underpaid and do not give a great deal of attention or energy to their students because they often have to work one or two additional jobs to support their own families. It is rare for kids to receive educational help from their parents who often dropped out after completing primary school. Students who might thrive in a more ideal setting often fall very far behind and drop out so they can begin contributing to the family income via jobs that offer minimal growth potential. The Solution: Chaska has developed a very effective system to maximize their stars' educational progress by putting them in an ideal setting. We offer additional classes and tutoring focused on STEM fields, language, or other subjects that they may be struggling with in their public school. Classes are taught to small groups with a maximum of four students in order to maximize student-to-teacher interaction. We also provide them with important non-traditional curriculum by implementing various workshops that focus on prevalent issues such as sexual education, substance abuse, bullying, self-esteem, and more.
3. Emotional Support
The Problem: Adolescence brings with it raging hormones and emotional struggles in almost everyone. However, the mental health problems experienced in this stage of life can be greatly exacerbated by a disadvantaged home life and culture. Our stars are forced to grow up earlier than many of their counterparts and have responsibilities that many would find unimaginable. Many feel guilty that they are in school and not adding to the family income, and some parents will actually shame them for it and pressure them to abandon their education. It is common for impoverished families in Cusco to invest all they can in their oldest son's education, in the hopes he will be able to have a successful career in a prestigious field and save the family. This lottery ticket mindset often leaves the girls with extra responsibilities of helping run the household and supporting their brother. There are so many familial, cultural, and social expectations that drastically hinder these girls chances of completing their education and becoming successful. The Solution:Chaska works with dedicated social workers who have the task of creating a better environment and lifestyle for our stars and their families. They function in a mentor-type role towards the families, as they provide them with valuable guidance and support regarding things such as money management, hygiene, emotional stability, parenting methods, and much more. To the girls, they act as positive role models by offering their emotional support and helping them discover and develop new talents and interests. We also employ a psychologist and welcome many psychology interns throughout the year. They conduct psychological evaluations of the girls, treat any identified conditions, and continuously follow up to ensure that each girl's mental health is trending in a positive direction.