A holiday gift that lasts a lifetime: Education

Submitted by: Kathleen Duncan, Founder, Educarte

During the holidays I am typically overwhelmed with messages from wonderful people wanting to purchase gifts or organize a party for the young people we support in Mexico. I truly love and appreciate that so many want to help make the holidays special for our students. Quite honestly, however, I also really struggle with these requests. I absolutely want to bring joy to the students in our program, especially during the holidays. However, I also understand that a party or material gifts will bring a young person joy for only a short time. Education, meanwhile, is a gift that lasts a lifetime. It is a gift that I want to be able to continue to give to every one of the young people we support—and many more on our waiting list.

A gift of hope

Since I founded the Educarte program in 2016, I have come to believe that hope for the future may be the most profound gift we can give a young person. When we commit to providing our students with the ongoing resources and support they need to go to school and succeed academically, we are giving them an incredible gift--hope for the future.

I have also come to believe that hope for the future may be the most profound gift we can give to the parents of our students. Getting to get to know so many of the families we support over the past six years has taught me that, at the greatest levels of affluence, and deepest levels of poverty, parents share the same desire for their children to have a better future. It breaks my heart to know that so many parents in this community are left with little hope for a better future for their children because they are unable to send them to school.

Why is it necessary to give so many students the gift of education?

Unlike in the United States, public school in Mexico is not free through 12th grade. Although the Mexican constitution guarantees a free public-school education through sixth grade, free does not necessarily mean accessible—especially if you are a young person living in poverty. If you do not have a birth certificate, transportation, access to regular meals, academic support at home, etc., you may not have the chance to complete even grade school.  Then, if you are lucky enough to complete grade school, you must find a way to get to and from one of the few middle schools in town where you will have to pay for uniforms, books, and various fees throughout the year. The barriers are even greater when you reach high school, as you must now find a way to pay for registration, tuition, uniforms books, fees, and transportation. It is estimated that up to 70% of youth in Puerto Peñasco do not get to attend high school.  The sad reality is that lack of resources leaves many hard-working families in this community having to choose between sending their children to school and meeting their basic needs.

How can you give a child the gift of education this holiday season?

First, I want to assure you that we do plan to bring some joy and special memories to the young people we support during the holidays! The teachers at each of our seven homework clubs will be organizing special celebrations for their students using resources donated by local businesses. So, now our hope is that many of you will help us give more students the gift of education this holiday season. You can make a one-time gift or set up a monthly recurring donation to sponsor a student here.

Gracias and Happy Holidays!

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