You can't make your way in this world, without schooling. And when you can't work and earn money, it's easy to turn to crime and drugs. If we want to make the world a better place, we must start with getting kids decent educations. Especially here in Mexico, this is important.
Some kids on my block have dropped out of school, before the 8th grade, because their parents don't have enough to pay for their school fees, even though public education in Mexico is supposed to be free. (Read article below to find out why it really isn't.)
Donate to Celebrate
Today, on my birthday, I'm starting to collect donations to Los Ninos de Chapala y Ajijic. Please donate $1, $2, or $10, whatever you can. The money helps kids to stay in school. They'll be able to pay for their fees, school uniforms, and other necessities.
Judy King, a local writer, explains better than I about the Los Ninos organization and what they do. Read it, and if you wish to help, click the donate button and make your contribution through PayPal. When you do, I'll be sure to send you a bonus guide on best content marketing books.
Helping Educate Kids: Just a Little Changes Children's Lives
(Photo Credit: Shutterstock)
By Judy King, MexicoInsights
"Each day when I awake I know I have one more day to make a difference in someone's life." — James Mann
It's astonishing how very little it takes to create an entirely different future for a child here in the Lake Chapala area of Mexico. Every town and village has children who are economically unable to attend even the years of grade school that are required by Mexican law.
"Free" Public Education
Mexico promises free public education for all children. Unfortunately that phrase "free education" has a very different meaning here than what we understand, based on our north of the border experiences.
The federal government of Mexico provides school buildings and pays teachers' salaries. The state tax base provides school books and some of the buildings' equipment. Upkeep, furnishings and equipment for the schools are usually left to the local community.
This means that classrooms are generally ill equipped, painted by work crews of parents who provide both materials and labor and decorated at the individual teacher's expense. Few local classrooms have maps, pencil sharpeners, bulletin boards or other simple items that are so standard in our schoolroom memories that we find it hard to imagine a classroom without them.
All students pay annual inscription fees to attend public school in Mexico and also must purchase all their own workbooks and school supplies. The vast majority of public school students wear specific uniforms to class. While these uniforms are not absolutely required, we discovered at a very personal level that the children who are not appropriately dressed are often the focus of teasing, jokes and bullying by other students.
The Bullied Neighborhood Kids
Last spring a friend overheard the distressing sound of a child sobbing outside her home. As she investigated she discovered Roberto and Alicia (children who live near her house) were outside, Alicia in tears after being taunted by the children who live down the street.
Several other kids on the block were making these less fortunate children's lives miserable because Roberto and Alicia had outgrown or worn out their school uniforms and the clothes they were wearing to school were worn and soiled.
My friend recognized that Roberto and Alicia's parents were doing the best they could—their father is a hard-working gardener and their mother suffers from a heart condition that prevents her from working, and sometimes doesn't even allow her to do the housework or child care she would like. The children are bright, good natured and have delightful personalities, but were so unhappy from treatment they were receiving that their school performance and attendance were being affected.
Eager to improve the situation, not just for the moment, but in a way that will help ensure Roberto and Alicia's continuing education, she reached into her own pocket , then reached out to area friends and finally emailed those folks who have visited here, asking them to commit to helping change these beautiful children's lives.
With the funds she received from her local group, she started on her mission—to give these neighborhood children the self confidence and pride they need to succeed in school.
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better." — Dr. Seuss
What Does it Cost to Outfit a Child?
In interviews this month with the coordinators of many of the local groups that help with school costs for individual children, we were told that the following are average costs for the school fees, uniforms, books and materials for various levels of education:
* $130 U.S. for a Primeria (grade school) child
* $200 U.S. for a student in Secondaria (middle school)
* $600 U.S. for a Prepa student (High School)
Note: This list does not include the annual inscription fee or book fee or the various small fees during the year for art and crafts projects, field trips or other extras.
Bill Friend, president of Niños de Chapala and Ajijic, commented on these costs, saying, "We only give the kids in our program half of these amounts, and then we expect the families to come up with the rest. In addition we give the parents of each child $10 ($100 pesos) a month. Whether the family spends that on juice or beans or shoes is up to them, but we recognize that at those economic levels even that extra $100 pesos a month makes a big difference.
Hardworking Volunteer Groups Are Educating Children
There is no way of tallying up all the kids who are in school due to the kindness and generosity of the foreign residents of Lake Chapala. It might be possible to add up the kids that are being helped by the following groups, but there is no way to know how many Lakeside residents are quietly also helping to educate the children of their neighbors, their maids, and other bright and deserving young people they've met here.
"It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do little—do what you can." — Sydney Smith
It's easy for you to help a lot, or just a little, to do what you can. If you wish more information on how you can sponsor a child, and follow their progress in school, visit www.lakesideninos.org.
Here is a message I received from the current president, Patricia Percival:
We are the oldest and biggest charity in Jalisco dedicated to obtaining sponsors to assist children in poor Mexican families with their education.
The age range is from kindergarten to university. At this time we have about 230 kids in the program and an additional 50 or so awaiting sponsorship.
From every donation (whether from an individual or a group) we deduct 9 percent for administrative costs (including maintaining 2 offices (1 in Chapala and 1 in Ajijic).
We have 2 office managers; an employee at our Thrift Shop located in Riberas and a Mexican teacher who runs our tutoring program (for kids whose grades are under an "8" grade average).
We also provide special food packages along with a chicken given to each family for Christmas.
Please do what you can, every little bit helps. I'm opening this campaign today on my birthday, and to celebrate 10 years of running an online business, so perhaps $10 would be an appropriate amount? All donations go to Los Ninos, and I'll match it and pay the extra 9% to cover administrative costs.
Thanks so much!