Morning! Today on Make Money Your Way, Troy continues with our investing for beginners series and studies the ETFs. Click to read more
Since I started Make Money Your Way last July, I took a pledge to give 10% of my blogging income to support children education in my village. As you may have read in my last update about the project, I gave two scholarships to the best two students of middle school so they can go to high school 150 miles away for the next three years.
The expected cost for boarding school is around $2,500 per kid, per year, so $15,000 over the next three years. Yep, I need to make $150,000 blogging :).
On top of that, I also want to help younger girls attend primary and middle school. Many of them don’t have money for shoes and the teachers won’t have them go to school barefoot. Plus the basic supplies and uniform, you are looking at around $30-50 per kid.
So far, my fund has been growing from July to December as the school year was finishing. Now, a new school year started in January, so it is time to put that money to good use. Here is the money I have
10% of July’s income : $404
10% of August’s income: $253
10% of September’s income: $297
10% of October’s income: $357
10% of November’s income: $269
10% of December’s income: $462
One of my readers also gave me $2,000 when he visited my village last summer, and Kim from Eyes on the Dollar has generously sent me an extra $500 to support the project. I am so happy this blog has allowed a small village in Guatemala to get so much funding!
Thank you to each and every reader as well for helping me improve my stats and hence affiliate sales, Adsense revenue and blogging income in general. You rock!
My $4,542 fund has been used so far to
- Pay the enrollment and lab fee for the two high school kids in boarding school, $350.
- Buy them each a mattress, stool, plastic storage box, a bin, broom, mop, light bulb… It is bring-your-own everything at boarding school. I told them to grab linen and other home things they already had, but they needed a mattress and the other items obviously. I also go them school supplies, 12 notepads each, a few pens, pencils, etc. for a grand total of $112. I thought it would be way more expensive but the mattresses were around $30 each and the biggest expense.
- This is a private school so they need a Bible and an hymn book but my neighbor will get some free ones from a local missionary $0.
- Uniforms for two tops, two bottoms each and a PE pants and t-shirt cost me $163. I could have told them to bring back the fabric bought at school home so the local tailor makes the uniforms a bit cheaper, but I know I would be so happy to have the real stuff from school if I were them.
- 3 months of school and board for each of them, $1,392.
- Insurance, for extra curricular activities and after school life, $30.
- 40 notepads, 50 pens, a couple dozen pencils and other supplies for the primary school, $25
The primary school kids also started this week so I am getting in touch with the school to see who couldn’t afford to go.
I am left with $2,470, but need $3,250 for the boarding school kids’ tuition this year, leaving a hole of $780. However, looking back at the past 6 months, I should have those $780 by March.
This is my car packed with the mattresses and the school supplies, I just dropped the kids at my neighbor’s and she drove them (plus two more she sponsors) to boarding school. They were super happy getting fitted for their uniforms, that is probably one of the first times of their lives they get new clothes. People usually buy second hand in thrift stores (shipped from the U.S., the stuff even GoodWill won’t have) or it is passed down to 8 siblings, then cousins, etc.
I’ll probably drive over to boarding school when I get back from Miami and visit the school, and give the 4 kids a ride back to the village when they get their monthly permission to go home. Otherwise it takes them 4+ hours by bus to come back, against 2+ hours by car.
If those kids want to land even a minimum wage job in 10 years time, they’ll have to be at ease with a computer. The supermarket cashier uses one, the McD employee uses one… And even with a manual job like a mechanic, they could use the computer to do their accounting.
So I decided to put my trip to Miami to good use and buy some laptops. I am also asking around for used laptops, so if you have one gathering dust at home, I’d happily cover the shipping fees to send it over!
I plan on spending part of the money left to buy 3-5 laptops and bring them back to Guatemala to avoid customs if I had them shipped. Then the idea is to give the kids free access when they need to do research, an assignment, or just browse the web. I learned English mostly watching TV and listening to music so I am all in favor of enjoyable education, and surfing the web (supervised), they can learn quickly how to use a mouse and type.
Many also have family who migrated illegally to the U.S. so I can provide cheaper communications with them via email or Skype.
That is still a rough project, the only sure thing is I won’t donate the laptops to the school and risk them “disappearing” overnight as no one is on site, or having the teachers tell me what I should be doing and how. An idea would be putting them at one of my workers’ house so he could also make a bit of side money renting them by the hour when the kids are in school, in exchange for lending the space and providing electric power.
I checked a charity called One Laptop Per Child who used to provide $100 laptops, but unfortunately they are now over $200 and you need a minimum order of… 1,000. Orders starting at 100 may be considered… I’ll get some $250-odd Chromebooks instead.
Also, Crystal from Budgeting In The Fun Stuff was kind enough to ship the first laptop, and I got a $50 donation towards the laptop fund from an anonymous reader. Thank you!
Primary school kids
Picking up this post a week later, I went to the school to see if some kids weren’t able to enroll because of the cost of supplies and uniforms. I was surprised to find that after one week the teachers were already on strike until further notice! Talking a bit with the director, she told me a starting professor makes $200 a month, which is under minimum wage, weird because the government fines people who pay under minimum wage, but since they teach from 7am to 1pm it may be considered a part time job. She has to work for a private school in the afternoon to make ends meet.
At the meeting a couple of parents approached me and explained they couldn’t afford the supplies so I left with shopping lists and a little sample of fabric to buy the uniforms by the yard, they would then take it to the tailor.
I also had a new worker lately who has been clearing the 90 acre land, a difficult, physical job. The last deal was that he would clear a couple of acres for $15. I went to pay him and had no cash, so I offered him a check, that he could cash at the bank the same day (the 6 miles trip costs around $2), or that I would go to the bank the next day and bring him cash. He was so broke he opted for the check. So I asked if he had daughters, and he said his 12 year old and 6 year old had started school, and he said yes, but he hadn’t got them all the supplies needed yet, and begged me to give him more work after that contract. So naturally I offered to help the girls, and asked him to give me his list.
He came by my house a couple of hours later, with his adorable 6 year old in tow, and I gave me his list, that was not the full school list, he had carefully removed what he already had, and was still worried about it being “too much to ask”. I was really touched because another lady came by the same day and her list for a 13 year old included black pens, something I am pretty sure any student has from the previous year, while this guy was so grateful he did not want to ask for anything more than the mere necessity.
Those are the school lists with the uniform fabric.
Then you show the fabric at the store
and have it cut depending on the size of the kid.
Anyway, school is NOT cheap. With all my little lists I spent $124
Some went to drawing books and color pencils for the little ones, backpacks, shoes, a few yards of fabric, English-Spanish dictionaries for the middle school kids, etc.
I also asked the director if she knew of any family who hadn’t enrolled their daughters yet because of lack of means, but she was new to the school and not aware yet, she said she would make a list, but also asked if I would bring the supplies to the school for them to dispose of. Errr. No. I think hope she meant well, but you never know. I told her the kids who had already enrolled had already bought their supplies and didn’t need more.
But then it got me thinking. Maybe the enrolled kids are just as poor as the non enrolled ones, except their parents saved and sacrificed everything to send the kid to school, while the other parents were drinking or gambling their salary. By giving them supplies, am I saying it is ok to drink because someone will come up and sponsor your kid?
From the stories I have heard so far, we are far from it. My worker is indeed working very hard and I see it every day. The other girl has 11 siblings and she has a bad foot so she goes through shoes quicker than her mum can afford. Another girl’s dad left on Christmas day for apparently no reason, so the elder brother is trying to find work and my maid had given her $45 so she could go to school, which I gave her when I heard the story. She was the best of her class so far so it would have been a real shame for her to drop off. She may be a scholarship student next year for high school.
That is the only case I have given money, the rest of the time I have taken lists and bought the things, to make sure the funds go to the kid.
The average I paid for a primary school girl was $16, a day an a half of work for the unskilled worker, imagine having five to seven kids at home… that is half a paycheck just to go to school, in a village where people don’t save anything. The teachers would accept the kid with half the list and then have the parents buy little by little.
and for a middle school girl, the average came to $45, almost a week’s pay.
That includes uniforms, sometimes shoes or backpacks, and the long list of supplies the teachers require to admit you in school. It was like Christmas giving them the bags and seeing their thankful smiles while hearing about how happy they were to be able to go to school this week.