Verma sells clothes at the local market and her husband works in a sewing workshop. They own a small plot of land and have lived in this part of Bolivia for seven years.

Her three children attend the after-school program near their home. And Verma’s 15-year-old, her eldest child, has been participating for six years.

Verma first learned about the program while walking through her village when Sister Mary Lou invited her children. The children had been coming after school for six months when Verma became ill. After giving birth, she nearly entered into a coma. Because she was unable to walk, Sister Mary Lou came every day to walk her children to and from school.

“It was a relief,” Verma said. “I was not strong enough to take care of them.”

At the after-school program, the children do their homework, learn about the Bible and receive meals. The center is a great help for Verma’s family, especially because it provides meals when her income is tight.

“They have lunch here, soup, and another dish, and they also have a snack,” she said. The favorite is jelly with cookies.

Last year when Verma was financially struggling, she remembers Sister Mary Lou helping feed her children. The church also gave her money so she could buy shoes for her children.

Having dropped out of school in the third grade, Verma is also grateful that volunteers in the program are able to help her children with their studies.

“My two older sons are in high school now,” she said. “So [helping them with homework] will be very hard for me.”

“I really trust in this place, especially in Sister Mary Lou,” she said. “I am so happy. I really pray for this never change because I trust her a lot. Sister Mary Lou treats them greatly with a lot of care.”

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