Carlos Marin Izaguirre is a teacher at Refugio Esperanza Primary School in Peru. Against all odds, he has made a change in his community that will have a ripple effect for generations to come.
“I believe that students are the reason for being a teacher,” Carlos boldly proclaims.
Carlos was only three years old when polio disease was detected in the Peruvian Amazon. Carlos was diagnosed with polio shortly after, and the disease soon took over his entire body, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. Daily life was much more difficult for Carlos than for other children due to his paralysis. He was often made fun of in his early years, given fewer opportunities, and left behind altogether.
One day, at age six, Carlos’ entire life changed. While playing soccer outside with his hands, as he always did, the director from the local school noticed him. The director immediately asked Carlos’ mother why he wasn’t at school. After learning Carlos’ absence was because he couldn’t physically get to the building, the director made a change that would impact Carlos for a lifetime.
From that day on, two older students were sent to Carlos’ house each morning to bring him to school. For the first time in his life, Carlos found hope, against all odds. Carlos finally had the chance to learn to read and write like other children his age. He successfully completed his studies all the way through university.
At age 23, the Lord called Carlos to serve Him by teaching others with disabilities. He responded to the call by attending Bible school and volunteering with various organizations for those with disabilities. As he prayed about his next step, a question came to Carlos’ heart — What future awaits children with disabilities who aren’t in school? Carlos reflects on this pivotal point in his journey. He shares his motivation to become a teacher, “It was seeing the need for students with disabilities who could not read or write, so I decided to learn education and bring it to them.”
How God Worked through Carlos
Carlos started meeting parents in his community who had children with disabilities. Many said they would never send their child to school because they could get made fun of. Carlos knew how this felt as someone who grew up in their place. However, he knew in his heart there had to be a better solution. He knew he served a God that made a way, against all odds. Carlos envisioned beginning a school solely for children with physical and psychomotor disabilities. In 1988, a father of a disabled student in the community agreed to become the Regional Director of Education for Carlos’ school. Finally, Refugio Esperanza Primary School was born.
Carlos reflects on the school’s growth, “We grew, thanks to the fact that our flag has always been to proclaim the Gospel. These children are carriers of the Gospel for their families. Many parents came to seek help because their children told them, ‘There are people there who talk to us about Christ and can help us.’”
The Perfect Match Between Refugio Esperanza Primary School and Edify
It was the perfect match when Carlos found Edify by attending a cognitive development teacher training. “I attended the Edify training because I [thought] they provide[d] the tools that, as a teacher, I was needing.” Ultimately, the training sparked a fire in Carlos to become the best teacher he could be for his students. The school has continued to improve and grow ever since.
Looking back, none of this could have been possible without the outstretched hand of a school director who gave Carlos the opportunity to learn. Sometimes all we need is a helping hand to bring us to a place where we can develop into our fullest potential. Someone to help bring us to new heights, even if it is against all odds. Whether you’re like the couple of students who carried Carlos to school, or the training program that encouraged him to grow into his fullest potential, may we all become a helping hand to those around us in need.