Daniel, 18, was first featured in the opening edition of The Scholar. Since that edition, Daniel was sponsored, graduated high school and started his journalism studies at a university. Here, his father reflects on raising his children and seeing Daniel graduate. As told by Daniel’s father to Henry Flores, director of CFCA’s communication center in El Salvador.
My name is Daniel Ernesto, I am 46 years old and I was born in Santa Ana, El Salvador.
I have two brothers, however, we did not grow up together.
When I was little, my father decided to take me to his sister's house to live with her because neither of my parents could take care of me. My father died when I was 2 years old, so I did not get to meet him.
My aunt did not have any children, so she gave me everything I needed. Now that I am an adult, I realize that family is more important than having everything you need. The family and the mother offer a natural trust.
My aunt was a teacher. She died when I was 19 years old. However, I was blessed to finish high school and had some extra education in electricity.
When my aunt died, and I got married, I started to work in anything that would give me some income. I did carpentry, bricklaying, etc. When you want to accomplish things, you need to put forth all your efforts. Good things are hard to get.
One of the most difficult moments in my life was when my wife left me and our three children. I stayed with the three of them. From one day to the next, I had to wash their clothes and cook for them. I remember I used to get up very early in the morning to do all this.
It was very difficult for me to adapt to my new situation as a single father, but I trusted God so much. He has never left me alone.
Raising my children was hard, but I had solid moral values. I told myself, “I have gone through this, I grew up without a father or a family, I don’t want my children to live what I lived.” My mother even told me to let her raise the children, but I told her that I was going to be their mother and father.
When he was about 10, my son Daniel would take care of his younger siblings when I was working. The three of them were attending the afternoon shift in school, so I would leave Daniel to take care of his siblings in the morning. He would heat up the food I had made the day before, feed his siblings, and later they would all go to school.
There were times I had to stay home from work because one of my children was sick. One thing I remember is that Daniel was always there with me, helping me. He has been such a great support for me.
I worked at a restaurant for 14 years. I was cook, waiter, cashier, maintenance person. I would do all kinds of jobs in that restaurant. But the business was sold, and I was left jobless. I then started work as a day laborer.
I never had a doubt that Daniel and my other children were going to study. I knew that I was going to do all I could to send them to school. Daniel deserves that opportunity. He has given so much of himself, and he has demonstrated that he is a good person, a good son and a very good student. I was going to do everything it took to send him to high school.
One thing I tell Daniel, now that he is in college, is that no matter his level of success, he must remember to be humble.
I think my son has chosen a good career. He has everything to be a journalist. From a very young age, he has enjoyed talking in front of people, doing research and other things.
When I saw Daniel receive his diploma at his high school graduation, I felt so many emotions. I was so proud of him and proud of myself because I was able to put my child through school with the help of God and CFCA. It’s a nice feeling. It is an experience that I will never forget, to see all our effort and sacrifices reflected in that diploma, reflected in him.
Daniel is now about to finish his first semester in journalism. College is more difficult. It has been hard for him. He goes to bed late at night. But I keep telling him to study hard, and he will be compensated in the future.
My dream for Daniel is for him to reach all his goals. I work hard every day for that.
Praise God, Daniel is being supported with the scholarship and sponsorship, but I still have two more children to work for: my daughter, Diana Marina, 15, and my son Ernesto Enrique, 11. Imagine, Diana is about to start high school, Ernesto will soon be in junior high and Daniel is at the university. I am trying to find a stable job to give me a base salary, and I can work extra on weekends. However, it is difficult because at my age, people don’t want to give me a job, even though I may have more experience than those they hire.
I am focused on everything I can do to bring up my children with an honest life and to help them graduate.
Once my children are grown and have graduated, I will feel satisfied. Then, I may have a chance to think about me and my life.