Marcela Orozco, her husband Faber Parra, and their two boys, Ángel David (8) and Valentín (5), used to live in Medellín, Colombia. Faber worked as a forest engineer and Marcela as an agricultural engineer. She also managed the family restaurant.
In 2020, Marcela witnessed a robbery outside of their restaurant and informed the police. Little did she know, the robbery was carried out by a member of one of the most dangerous armed groups in Colombia.
Telling the police caused Marcela to receive multiple death threats from the gang, which forced the family to abandon their hometown and move to Guarne, another city in Colombia. But moving didn’t help—the gang found them and kept threatening them. This continued even after moving three more times within the country.
The situation prompted the Parra family to flee to Georgia, in the United States, where they had relatives. They flew here on a tourist visa and only planned to stay for a couple of weeks, but they were so frightened of going back that they ended up requesting asylum.
“In the midst of the anguish, we decided to stay,” Marcela said.
The Parra family has been in the States for nearly three years now, and they treasure the sense of safety and freedom they’ve found here. They’re still waiting for a response on their asylum case, but their status as asylum seekers has permitted them to open both a landscaping and a cleaning business, which helps them support their children in their educational needs.
Once the Parra family joined a church in Buford, Georgia, they learned about homeschooling through their pastor’s family and friends.
Marcela thought she “didn’t have the patience” for homeschooling, and that this educational option led children to be socially withdrawn. But it didn’t take long for her to change her opinion.
She soon met the daughters of her church friend Stephanie Smith, who were homeschool graduates. Marcela was surprised by how authentic, sociable, charismatic, and talented they were. They told Marcela about the benefits of homeschooling, and Marcela grew more and more intrigued.
At the same time, Ángel David and Valentín started displaying uncommon attitudes toward school. Valentín would scream and cry whenever Marcela took him to daycare, and Ángel David would come back from school looking dull and sad.
“He had lost his spark,” Marcela said.
One day, Ángel David came home very restless and anxious. He told her that he had watched some kids play violent and disturbing video games at school, and even took part in playing them.
Marcela couldn’t stop worrying about him.
She also thought about how long and tiring the school days were, and how busy life had become for her family. “Life has to be more than this,” she told herself.
All these factors played into the family’s decision to start homeschooling.
Discovering a gift
Marcela and Faber have homeschooled their children for over two years now. It was tough during their first year––they were very busy with work and homeschooling, and they felt rushed all the time.
But their second year was calmer. Marcela was able to hire an assistant for her cleaning business, and the family has enjoyed homeschooling much more.
“I’m very, very happy,” she said. “We never imagined we’d love homeschooling this much.”
Marcela and Faber love being able to watch Ángel David and Valentín learn, grow, and understand how to love God. And the boys love being homeschooled, too.
“It’s beautiful, because it’s reciprocal,” Marcela said.
Homeschooling has been particularly fruitful for Ángel David, their 8-year-old who’s developed a passion for playing piano. When he started playing in the summer of 2022, he could immediately play songs by ear. A few months later, he began at-home piano lessons with a private instructor.
“His teacher said that he has a gift—his level is higher than kids who have been playing for three or four years,” Marcela said.
Soon he was giving concerts at church and nursing homes, and he even played at his parents’ vow renewal ceremony. And his repertoire includes pieces from every genre—from classical (his favorite) to Pink Floyd.
“It was all because of homeschooling,” Marcela said. “He wouldn’t have had the energy to practice after a long day of school, but homeschooling made it possible.”
WATCH ÁNGEL DAVID PLAY:
Too good, too precious
Marcela is especially thankful for her homeschooling support group and her friend Stephanie Smith, who has given her advice throughout her homeschool journey and suggested she join HSLDA.
“I’ve felt very inspired by her,” Marcela said.
Even though Marcela initially felt overwhelmed by homeschooling in English, she’s since learned that she can also use Spanish resources to teach her kids. And she’s been helping other Spanish-speaking homeschool moms in Buford understand this.
“I’ve felt more motivated,” Marcela said. “Homeschooling is too good, too precious—it should be multiplied.”
A new start
The Parra family is now in the process of opening a new restaurant in Buford, and Marcela and Faber are thankful for the flexibility of homeschooling, because it has helped them tackle the challenges of working while teaching their boys. They also enjoy being able to teach them things related to their jobs, like landscaping and business administration.
“They love learning through our entrepreneurship projects,” Marcela said.Undoubtedly, the Parra family feels blessed to have learned about homeschooling, even if it came with the price of leaving their home country, family, and friends behind.