It’s September—and that means we’re headed back to school!

Here on the Compassion Canada blog, we thought we’d take you through a Compassion back-to-school checklist series, with some inspiration from kids around the world!

A Compassion back-to-school checklist:

First up—get to school.


We’ve all heard our parents or grandparents claim that they walked uphill both ways to get to and from school. These kids, who are part of Compassion’s programs in South America, will be able to tell their kids that their journeys to school not only involved walking, but riding donkeys and canoes, too!

A canoe ride in the Ecuadorian Amazon

A group of found children run in a field, on their way to school.

Waira, Dani, Katy and Keisha live in the community of Pucachicta in the Ecuadorian Amazon. On school days they wake up at 5 a.m., put on their uniforms, pack their backpacks and begin their journey to school.

First, they walk 20 minutes to the river. The walk often feels shorter because they laugh and play along the way.

Once they get to the river, it’s time for a 15- to 20-minute canoe ride to a neighbouring community where the elementary school is located. They sit still to avoid flipping the boat.

A group of four children sit in a canoe with their backpacks, on their way to school.

“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor. That’s why I like to go to school to learn more, so in the future I can cure people,” says Dani. “In the letters from my sponsor, he always tells me that I must study hard so I can grow smart and be a good doctor.”

Public transportation in northeast Brazil

A girl sits in a yellow and black car that has "Escolar" printed on the side.

Estefany used to live in the city with her grandmother. Ever since moving back to live with her mother in a rural area, her journey to school is much longer.

“I wake up around 5:30 a.m. to get ready and eat my breakfast. By 6:40 a.m., I must be ready to leave my house.”

A girl in jeans and a t-shirt, carrying a pink backpack, walks in a field.

Estefany walks to the road where the public transport picks her up. The driver’s name is Mister Zezinho. He drives the same vehicle filled with the same group of children every day. The car can get very hot in Brazil’s weather, especially when there are many students inside. The ride to school is about 35 minutes long.

Estefany poses on the path, wearing a white t-shirt and pink backpack.

“The part that I like most about my journey to school is watching the landscapes. It’s very beautiful,” Estefany says. “Ultimately, I don’t mind waking up early or the hot weather. I know that studying is what will help me have a better life. When I grow up, I want to be a lawyer.”

A donkey ride in rural Colombia

Two children, a sister and brother, sit on a donkey.

Siblings Dianis and Dilan’s school day starts at 7 a.m., which means they must start their hour-long journey to school by 6 a.m. One of their parents is sure to accompany them to ensure they get there safely.

Dianis hugs the donkey that brings her and her brother to school.

Their donkey, Mocho, is their ride to school. At 25 years old, Mocho is very old. Dianis and Dilan’s father is currently training a younger donkey to make the journey, so Mocho can spend the last few years of his life resting.

On their way to school, the children take in the beautiful trees and listen to the birds singing. Sometimes it rains, making the journey more difficult. But no matter what it takes, the children know that it’s important to get there.

The donkey carrying Dilan and Dianis arrives at the school gate.

“Our parents have taught us that by studying, we are going to have a better future and that makes our journey to school worthwhile,” Dianis says.

What does your journey to school look like?


Education is a vital part of breaking the cycle of poverty in a child’s life. But for many children, it is more than just a long journey standing between them and the classroom.

You can break down those barriers for a child living in poverty.

Sponsor a Child


Field reporting by Nico Benalcazar (Ecuador), Sara Navarro (Brazil) and Lina Marcela Alarcón Molina (Colombia)

Written by: Alyssa Esparaz

Alyssa is Compassion Canada's Manager of Content and Public Relations, telling stories that inspire and equip Jesus followers to live compassionate lifestyles. She is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where she studied International Development.