When I first came to El Salvador I connected with a different ministry. I taught English at their various houses. That is where I met Antonia. I fell in love with Antonia immediately. Her smile can win anyone over. Antonia is mentally disabled. Sadly at her other placement no one saw potential in Antonia. While the other girls and children were brought to school every day she was left to sit in the house. I began to work with Antonia trying to teach her how to write her name and how to count. I remember countless times where the staff would ridicule me telling me I was wasting my time. One day the director called me into the office and during our meeting I asked them if I could have more time to work with Antonia. I always felt that with more time she could learn. She was hungry for it and I believe that's all someone needs. I remember the director telling me to stop wasting my time that her future was begging on the street. That was my last day at that organization and that is the day I began the fight to get custody of Antonia and her daughter Faviola. I was granted full legal and physical custody of Antonia about 7 months later. (While Faviola lives with me I have not yet been granted legal custody of her I am still fighting and waiting patiently for that) Antonia, who was used to sitting all day and staring off into another world, quickly got back into her same routine. I decided that I did not want her to sit around the house all day doing nothing so I spoke to a friend of mine who owns a small cafe. I asked her if Antonia could volunteer. I knew at least Antonia knew how to wash dishes and sweep floors. So my friend agreed. About 2 months later Antonia came home with a pay check. Over the 2 months Antonia had learned how to make tortillas (which is a big money maker here) and so she was given a promotion and started receiving pay. I was thrilled and wanted to let everyone who told her she couldn't that she could and was. Antonia didn't stop with just working a full time job. She came home one day about 3 months ago and decided she wanted to go into business for herself. She wants to save her money and buy a grill and make tortillas and sell them herself instead of working for someone else. So of course I told her absolutely. She can do whatever she wants. So she is currently in the process of saving her money to buy a grill and the supplies needed to open her own tortillaria. And if that isn't enough to accomplish in the life of a young lady who was told she wouldn't amount to anything, Antonia came home about a month ago and decided she wanted to go to school. That was a little tricky. I immediately started to home school Antonia teaching her how to hold a pencil and draw lines. She learned how to write the letter A (her goal is to write her name). I began visiting every special education school that I could find but because of her age she was not able to attend. I spoke to some regular schools to see if they would permit her to sit in a kindergarten class and again because of her age she was not allowed. Finally, our tutor heard on the radio that a well known church in the area was opening a night school, basically an adult education program. He thought it would be a good school for Esther (another young mother here) to attend. When we went to enroll Esther her teacher told us that if we knew of anyone else that they still had space available. I explained Antonia to her and asked would there be anything available to her. She said yes! She said they had another man who was mentally disabled who attended. He was 80 years old and came faithfully and even though it took him 4 years he just recently finished the first grade. So this week, at the age of 26 Antonia entered school. It is going to be a very difficult challenge for Antonia, but I know she can do it. She was crying this morning because she just can't figure out how to make V. She'll get it one day soon. She is a determined young lady. Her daughter also has a learning disability, in kindergarten she struggles. I just think what an amazing example Antonia is being to her daughter. I can't wait until the day that Antonia can finally write her name!