October 29, 2015
Fifteen-year-old Karla is a member of an AJS-supported club for at-risk youth called Impact. She shared about her experiences with her mother, Karina, and AJS-mentor Bestsabe by her side.
Interviewer: How did you hear about the Impact Club?
Karla: Betsabe is my neighbor so she invited me to the club. I’ve been part of the club for two and a half years now.
I: And what do you do in the club?
Karla: We meet every week. We play games, learn skills, plan projects for the community, and share together as a group. Some kids come from pretty rough backgrounds, and we don’t always agree on everything, but we are good friends.
I: What kind of service projects do you do?
Karla: Well, we decide what the biggest needs in the community are, and then we make a plan for the project. AJS helps us with the funds, and we ask our neighbors to help with the work. We’ve built stairs and fixed a road. Right now we’re working on a campaign to stop littering; we’re going to talk to our neighbors about not throwing trash on the street, and we’re going to install trash cans. It feels really good to serve our community.
Karina: And the community members are surprised and happy that the kids are doing service projects.
Bestsabe: I’ve even seen Karina shoveling dirt for some of the projects!
I: And what kind of skills do you learn?
Karla: Last year I decided I didn’t want to continue studying in high school.
Bestsabe: This made us worried because we knew that Karla needed to have a skill to be able to get a job.
Karla: Right, so Betsabe helped me get into cosmetology classes at a vocational school. I went every day for all of last year and got my diploma for completing the first year. Now we’re working on getting me registered for year number two. I like cosmetology because you get to help people make a big change in how they look. Most of my aunts work in salons, and I want to become a great stylist.
Bestsabe: Just in the last three months we’ve helped 32 young people like Karla enroll in vocational classes. We provide scholarships for their transportation and are in constant contact with their teachers to make sure they are attending class and behaving well. Karina is really involved in Karla’s education, but unfortunately, not all parents are like her, so we provide a lot of support.
Karla: Yes, lots of kids don’t want to study or go to vocational classes, but they won’t have a future that way. Bestsabe encourages us to study or learn a skill.
Karina: I want my kids to have opportunities that I never had. Betsabe and AJS are helping to make that happen.