An Engineer in the Making: Susana’s Story

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Susana Chikkala

The burden of material poverty is difficult to ignore when it means that your parents can’t afford to send you to school. When money’s scarce, education often becomes a luxury, something children have to learn to live without, even if school fees amount to little more than the cost of a latte at Starbucks. Sometimes the need to survive trumps everything else, and parents have to make a tough choice: send the kids to school or send the kids to bed hungry, again.

It’s a choice few of us can imagine having to make. And yet every few weeks, Susana’s parents, John and Jyothi, had to make that difficult decision, which meant that Susana and her sister, despite being unusually bright, were undereducated, cut off from reaching their potential because the poverty they were born into had too often forced their parents to keep them out of the classroom.

It’s a story we hear again and again, and one we’ve been working hard to rewrite through our efforts to care for and educate the next generation.

Some of the brightest children we know come from families where conditions of extreme poverty are the norm, and they’ve been the norm for generations. For these children, education is a lifeline — it’s their way out of poverty. And though that may sound like hyperbole, it’s the honest truth. Education has a significant role to play in effecting lasting change in the lives of the materially poor. John and Jyothi’s daughter, Susana, is just the latest example of that.


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Susana has excelled in a way we could’ve never imagined when she came to our children’s home just a few years ago. Having aced her Secondary School Examination in April — which is an exam all Grade X students have to take in order to pursue higher education — Susana received a six-year, full-ride scholarship from one of the most prestigious engineering colleges in Andhra Pradesh, the Indian Institute of Information Technology. Her parents, still struggling to make ends meet as they plant churches among the rural poor, are rejoicing that their daughter has been the recipient of so much grace and blessing. We share their joy. We celebrate Susana’s success. And we thank God for her sponsor, the person who made it possible for Susana to step away from village life and receive a quality education through our children’s home.

If we hope to break the cycle of generational poverty that is so pervasive throughout the developing world, we have to figure out a way to keep kids in school, empowering them to reach their God-given potential. As Susana and so many others have shown us, access to a dynamic educational environment is an on-ramp that connects students to outcomes that would have been unimaginable were it not for the opportunity to learn.


Since 1992 Vision Nationals has been planting churches, training nationals, and caring for India’s most vulnerable. Donations to support our work are greatly appreciated. All gifts are tax-deductible and can be designated to the ministry of your choice.

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