The remote community of Shonto is situated on the rim of its namesake canyon, some 150 miles north of Flagstaff, amid the incredible desert beauty of the Navajo Indian Reservation.

Our affiliated project, the Shonto Preparatory School, began in the 1960s as a cluster of “hogans” – traditional Navajo dwellings made of logs and mud, constructed in an octagonal shape. The hogan has only one opening – a doorway – which traditionally faces east.

“This school is incredibly important for families in an area where the child poverty rate is 22.3%. Parents rely heavily on the support that their children get from the school administration and Children Incorporated sponsors,” said Renée.

“Shonto has been affiliated with Children Incorporated since 1969. The school itself is well-respected. Many children are bused-in from communities that are 40 miles away because Shonto provides such a quality education to students,” said Renée Kube, our Director of U.S. Programs.

Helping kids throughout their school years

“This school is incredibly important for families in an area where the child poverty rate is 22.3%. Parents rely heavily on the support that their children get from the school administration and Children Incorporated sponsors,” said Renée.

Additionally, because the school serves children from kindergarten through high school, children in our program often have sponsors from elementary school to graduation.

Meeting with Marlita

Our Volunteer Coordinator at Shonto Preparatory is Marlita. While meeting with Marlita at Shonto Preparatory School, Renée got to hear more about how Marlita manages the Children Incorporated sponsorship program.

“Marlita is very dedicated to her students, and she devotes many hours of additional time to help children at the school as well as in our sponsorship program,” explained Renée.

“She knows the Children Incorporated program well. In fact, Marlita’s mother was a sponsor for many years. At one point, they both visited our office and enjoyed meeting the staff and learning more about how we operate.”

Marlita brings sponsored children to the school’s library to meet with them regarding our program.

According to Renée, Marlita worked for many years as the school librarian. However, more recently, she was transferred to cover a vacancy as lead teacher for 3rd through 5th grades.

“The library is still Marlita’s ‘home away from home.’ She has a great relationship with the library manager, Mrs. Kee, who lets Marlita use the library to meet with students,” said Renée.

“Marlita says that because she has use of the library, she has an easy time pulling children out of class and getting to spend a little time with them. While she meets with sponsored children in the library, she gives them gifts from their sponsors or has them write letters, and they can take their time in a quiet place where they feel comfortable and won’t be bothered.”

Getting to know our sponsored children

During her visit, Marlita called a few sponsored children into the library to meet Renée.

Renée first met Elise*, who is a confident and happy fourth grader. Elise told Renée that her favorite subjects are art and Navajo language and culture, and she likes to draw. She also loves kittens.

After Elise returned to class, Marlita explained to Renée that Elise comes from a large family of three brothers and four sisters. Her father is unemployed, and her mother has a low wage job for a small local company. The family lives in a house with no running water or electricity.

“Marlita is very dedicated to her students, and she devotes many hours of additional time to help children at the school as well as in our sponsorship program,” explained Renée.

Next, Renée met Marcus*. Marcus is a sweet and rather shy second-grader.

He loves math and wants to be a doctor when he grows up. According to Marlita, every day is a struggle for his family. He and his four siblings live with their parents. The mother is a homemaker. The father has a very low-paying job and has a tough time providing basic necessities. They live in a small house with no running water. Like many on the reservation, water is hauled into the home in an assortment of bottles and buckets or is delivered and poured into a barrel. Marlita said that even though the family is very poor, the children are always neat and have clean clothes.

Lastly, Renée met Alexandra*. Alexandra is in seventh grade this school year. She is a bright and rather quiet girl who is the youngest of eight children. Alexandra’s mother is a homemaker, and her father is unemployed. They live in a traditional Navajo hogan without running water. Alexandra told Renée that when she grows up, she would like to join the Air Force.

*Names changed to protect the children.

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How do I sponsor a child in Arizona?

You can sponsor a child in Arizona in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members or email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org.