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Michel-Ange’s mother never learned how to read or write, but “she understands the benefit of knowledge,” says Michel-Ange. That’s why she successfully pushed her four daughters to do their best in school.
It wasn’t easy. She was a single mother, selling water and candy outside an elementary school. An uncle paid for Michel-Ange to go to private secondary school for two years, but then he died, forcing Michel-Ange to transfer to public school. “Tuition was only $10, but we could spend the entire year without finding half of that sum,” she says. And the educational quality was very low: Michel-Ange had teachers who would fail to show up for weeks on end. “So I worked alone and with friends, and demanded help, and that’s how I became so good in math and physics.” Her straight A’s caught the attention of the school’s administrators and others, and Michel-Ange received a scholarship to return to private school, and then eventually learned about HELP.
Michel-Ange now studies computer science and would like to work in telecommunications. The importance of this field hit home after the January 2010 earthquake, when her family was forced to scatter. She was unable to communicate with her mother for months.
“HELP is a family for me,” says Michel-Ange. The organization has also helped her to grow personally, teaching her “to look outside myself… and to reflect.”