By Abraham Marca, Communications Officer ChildFund Bolivia
It is 5 p.m. in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. The weather is warm but pouring rain is keeping the children from playing outside after school. Instead, they look busy and seem very focused on the computer screens at the learning center run by our local partner Lucerito. The children do not mind missing playtime though because this is time well spent.
In the poorest areas of Santa Cruz, children have little access to technology. Providing various learning opportunities, ChildFund programs in the area collaborate with the Lucerito center to help children learn computer skills. The students also receive help with their homework and are given assistance by a unique but capable teacher.
When we ask where that teacher was, an 11-year-old boy quickly stands up from his desk, walks straight toward us and extends his hand. “Good afternoon. My name is Santiago and I am the teacher,” he says.
That surprises us.
Despite his youth, Santiago’s passion for technology motivated him to become more involved in his computer classes. Eager to learn, he spent extra time absorbing everything he could about computers; information he now shares with his peers. “I love machines and computers; assembling and disassembling things. I like coming here every day to teach and help other kids learn, too,” he says.
Once Santiago’s classmates discovered his skills, they began asking for his assistance. His teacher, Alvaro Peña, watched the young boy help around the classroom and immediately recognized his potential. It did not take long for him to ask Santiago to be his teaching assistant.
Now, Santiago attends Lucerito five times a week to teach child-friendly software to boys and girls from the five surrounding schools. He spends three hours a day helping his peers master Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint.
“I want to be a systems engineer when I grow up,” Santiago says confidently—and we know he has surely found his calling.