During the holidays we receive many messages from wonderful people wanting to do something special for the kids we support in Puerto Penasco. During our first few years the local team was able to host a Holiday celebration for all the students. It was fun and so helpful to have Americans offering to donate time and resources to help make this a very special event. Now, with the program supporting more than 700 students, is it no longer feasible to host one big party.
At first, we were saddened by this change and missed working with other Americans to help organize a large celebration for all the students. Looking back, however, you can see that the amount of time, energy, and resources spent on this event is much better invested in supporting education for students throughout the year. In fact, if you were to ask all the young people and parents involved in the program if they would rather have a party and receive some gifts during the holidays or receive the gift of education throughout the year, we are confident the answer would almost unanimously be education.
Of course, we do want to bring some joy and special memories to the young people we support to during the holidays! Fortunately, the teachers at each of our seven homework clubs organize smaller celebrations for their students using resources donated by local businesses. Meanwhile, during the holidays when someone asks how they can help make the holidays special for students in Puerto Penasco, our answer is “Consider giving them a gift that will last a lifetime: Education!”
Why is it necessary to invest in education for young people in Puerto Penasco?
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, we have learned that 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 and materials 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. These costs, which can add up to $500 USD or more per year, leave an estimated 70% of local youth unable to attend high school.
A Success Story:
Marifer and Lennin entered our program in 2016. Marifer had just completed 6th grade and her brother Lennin had one year left in high school when their stay-at-home-mother unexpectedly became a single parent. Both were exceptional students who were faced with dropping out of school. Fortunately, we were able to step in and provide the support they desperately needed to continue their education. Today Marifer is a high school honor student and Lennin is in his last year of college studying business at the local University. Both have very bright futures thanks to generous donors who have consistently supported our efforts to provide local youth with a path out of poverty through education.
To give more students in Rocky Point the gift of education this holiday season, click here.
GRACIAS and Happy Holidays!