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Sisters Mikelia and Agustina are beaming with joy, even though the family struggles to afford the bare necessities. Even though their home right now resembles a demolished shed where it rains through the roof and the electricity makes clear its absence. The children are beaming because their principal is visiting their school. Star of Hope’s preschool is a haven that fills both children and parents with hope.

Two new generations meet when our Argentinian operations manager David Johansson visits Mikelia and Agustina's home. David is the son of Kenth and Alba, who started our Argentine branch "The Good Shepherd" in 1972.

Our preschool was inaugurated after Alba's death and was named after her: Jardín Alba.

Mikelia and Agustina, in turn, are daughters of godchild Lily. Like so many children from the Toba people, she was able to begin the journey towards a better life thanks to the Star of Hope. In a country with 92 percent inflation and increasing poverty, our support for Lily has been crucial.

“I got help to pass my studies, she says. In high school, they helped me with food and paid for my school uniform. I was able to study further thanks to Hoppets Stjärna covering the school fees. Now I have studied for four years and am about to graduate.”

The dream of a good job, and a better life, is finally within reach. Lily is at the end of her educational journey – and her daughters are just starting theirs. Five-year-old Mikelia is more than happy to talk about her preschool.

“I love it! she says. I'm learning letters and all the numbers, and I've learned to write my name. And to draw. I can draw hearts!

The enthusiasm is unmistakable. Jardín Alba is unique of its kind in the area.

“Jardín Alba is the only preschool in Saenz Peña that targets the children of the Toba people, says David.”

In preschools where only Spanish is spoken, they find it difficult to keep up and learn what they need to know before primary school as their mother language is Qom. In our preschool, both Spanish and the children's mother tongue Qom are spoken. This means that all children come well-prepared to primary school, where all teaching takes place in Spanish.

Language teacher Ana Maria Lopez, who herself belongs to the Toba people, highlights another important dimension of the preschool's work.

“Teaching Qom is important for the children to be able to keep their culture and language. Our people have lost so much, she says.”

During the conversation, Mikelia and Agustina crawl into the arms of their principal Silvia Gamez.

“We know that children learn much more if they receive love and respect, says Silvia. We emphasize values such as cooperation, being respectful and apologizing.”

After the home visit, David meets with the school's legal representative, Norma Portillo. She has worked voluntarily for Star of Hope for many years and previously held the role of preschool principal. When David asks her about the importance of preschool, the answer comes without the slightest hesitation.

“Jardín Alba is not just a preschool! It is a preschool that will make a difference in the children's lives.”

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