Rafael Lopez Diaz

Rafael Lopez Diaz is 23 years old and the seventh of nine children in a migrant worker family. When Rafa was eight years old, his mom passed away. He and his younger siblings were left to live with his father, who was an alcoholic until one of his older brothers took the three youngest children to live with him instead.

When Rafa was 13, his older sister enrolled him in elementary school, something he had dreamed about since he was very young. However, he struggled due to his poor vision, which no one had previously noticed. He had not shared his poor eyesight with others because in this rural village, wearing glasses would make him a target for bullying.

At 15, he moved again and enrolled in the 5th grade but schools were reluctant to accept him since he was too old for primary school yet did not meet high school requirements. Rafa wanted to go to school but also had the responsibilities of a working adult.

To achieve his goals, he reached out to a local primary school teacher in the village who helped him with his studies to meet high school requirements. He enrolled in private high school on Sundays while working the fields Monday through Saturday. Many times, Rafa went to school hungry, with wet clothes and had to walk 25 minutes after getting off a bus because there was no stop near the school.

In 2015, Rafa discovered the GROW program, which changed his life.  Thanks to the program that offers free vision clinics, he now has glasses that allow him to study without a visual handicap.  He lives in Casa Amiga, which provides him room and board, so that he can study without financial worries.  GROW pays for his education, and he has an undying gratitude for the support he has received.

He is now close to earning a degree in psychology. He will be attending an exchange program in Spain next semester and is excited to strengthen his skills, learn from another culture, and expand his knowledge of clinical psychology so that he can bring information home and give back to his community.

Rafa feels blessed that he found GROW and that it has allowed him to learn, prosper, and become the best version of himself.  He will soon be working in his chosen profession and helping others to realize their dreams.

 

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