Unable to afford school tuition, Leslie started working in the garbage dump when she was eight years old.

At age 18, she decided to change her life and entered Safe Passage’s Adult Education program as a first grade student.

After years of night classes and long days working in the dump, Leslie earned a high school diploma. She no longer works in the dump and now supports herself and her family exclusively with the income that she earns from the Creamos social entrepreneurship program.

“My biggest dream was always to continue studying and to be successful. My motivation was to inspire my own children,” says Leslie.

Leslie has five children — two are currently enrolled as full-time students at Safe Passage. Her daughter, Leslie, is a 7th grader and her son, Carlos, is in 5th grade. Leslie is grateful that her children’s road to graduation and meaningful employment will be less difficult because of Safe Passage.

Leslie’s son Carlos started attending Safe Passage in 2007 when he was 2 years old. Thanks to the support and encouragement of his mother and teachers, Carlos is determined to graduate and become a scientist.

“Carlos is a very smart boy,” Leslie says. He has been able to develop because of how he’s been learning at Safe Passage. He’s been empowered to think for himself.”

For Carlos, Safe Passage represents, “a hope for children most in need to achieve their dreams and desires.” For us, Carlos and his mom represent the hard work and determination needed to overcome challenges — an inspiring example of true grit.

“My mother has worked hard to give me an education,” Carlos says. “Thank to Safe Passage, I am where I am today.”