How Do You Say, "No"? - Brandon’s Story

By Ashley Williams

Brandon AKA Tomato Guatemala GhettoIt’s hard to grow up in poverty and even harder without your parents’ support.  Brandon only studied through the fourth grade and then dropped out to work when his parents abandoned him.  They left Brandon and his sister with  their aunt and provided no financial support.

Brandon’s aunt did not make enough to provide for her own children, let alone for her niece and nephew.  At 13, Brandon found himself traveling alone back and forth to Mexico to find any kind of job that would provide for his family.  He would spend 2 to 4 weeks working in Mexico  before going back to Guatemala.  Brandon could not think about doing the normal teenage boy things.  He had to be a man and provide for his family.

Brandon dreamed about going back to school, but his only option was studying on the weekends and that was out of the question.  Tuition and school supplies were too expensive.  Because of the lack of opportunities, Brandon began smoking and hanging with a bad group of guys.  They began pressuring Brandon to officially become part of their group, promising him all of the things he had lacked in life.  Brandon knew what this decision meant and that there would be no turning back.  He swore to himself that if another opportunity arose, apart from joining this group of guys, he would take it.

Brandon was so excited when he heard about the scholarship his cousin received.  She had been given the opportunity to attend private school on the weekends.  The scholarship even included the supplies and books she needed.  The program was an accelerated program to help those who had dropped out of school to catch up and finish high school. 

Brandon believed that if his cousin could receive such an opportunity, maybe there would be a space for him too.  He believed this was his opportunity for a future without having to join a gang.

The next time he saw me, Brandon immediately pulled out his old report cards to show me he had been a dedicated student and had received high grades.  I couldn’t help but think about where we were and the situation in which Brandon was living.  How do you say no to someone who really wants a better future?

I took a step of faith.  All of the scholarship spaces had been filled, but I said, "yes", knowing that God would provide.

This was the opportunity that Brandon needed to get an education and to save his life from gang violence.  He jumped at the opportunity and has been attending school for three months.  Because of donations, all of his school supplies, books, and field trips were paid for.

Brandon took his first test 2 weeks ago.  He feels confident he did well.  Today Brandon is studying and has a chance at a future again because of friends like you.  If you would like to help other children like Brandon through our Community Outreach Program, please make your gift today.  It will be put to work immediately!