Marcos Perez Salgado is Bridges to Community’s youngest scholarship student at 14 years old. Marcos was also born deaf. Though Marcos always liked going to school, he was initially denied admission to elementary school as a young child because of his disability. He eventually began attending public school, but had trouble understanding and communicating; neither Marcos nor anyone in his family or school knew sign language. He advanced to 6th grade but had trouble as the years progressed as the classes became more and more auditory. At the time, Marcos was only able to communicate with informal movements and signals.
Marcos’s mother, Blanca Iris Salgado, a single mother struggling to make ends meet, had trouble keeping Marcos in school. She dreamt of taking Marcos to a school with specialists for disabled children.
In 2018, Blanca’s dreams became reality when Bridges accepted Marcos into the Scholarship Program to study at a special public school for the deaf in Masaya. Marcos has difficulty taking public transportation, so the scholarship covered the daily cost of a motorcycle taxi to take Marcos from his home in Nindirí to his school in Masaya. The scholarship also covered a daily snack at school, a school uniform and school supplies to start the year.
For the past year and a half, Marcos has progressed in his new school. Ivania Gomez, Bridges Scholarship Coordinator, explains, “Marcos’s mother has seen a tremendous change in Marcos since he began studying at his new school. His mother observes that Marcos is much happier, and his family has all learned to communicate better with him.
It is a more appropriate environment for Marcos to learn, and his advancement is incredible and very exciting. He likes sign language, and each day returns home and teaches his mother what he has learned. She sometimes goes to school with him and stays for classes to learn to communicate better with Marcos. Marcos has also been teaching his sister, two cousins, and some neighbors sign language to be able to communicate with him.”
On December 3rd, 2019, Marcos officially graduated from elementary school in a commemorative ceremony. In Nicaragua, elementary school students graduate after completing 6th grade and move on to high school. Marcos is a distinguished student at the school and has become independent, participative, and is learning folkloric dance, which he enjoys very much. Ivania observed Marcos’s newfound sign language skills at the ceremony and says, “Marcos has shown us that, in spite of his disability, he can do anything…He was able to achieve this goal of finishing elementary school through much perseverance and commitment.”
Marcos hopes to continue studying at a high school for students with disabilities. In a letter to Bridges, Marcos writes, “Thank you to Bridges to Community for supporting me and helping me to finish 6th grade. Thank you for helping me to achieve my goals. I hope you will continue supporting me so I can better myself and become an educated person who achieves his dreams.”