Dec 3, 2018

From Receiving to Giving

Greysi at Graduation
Greysi at Graduation

We are pleased that Greysi, one of our former students, is back and active at Centro De Compartimiento (CDC).  But now she is not receiving services but giving back to CDC.  Greysi came to CDC eight years ago to go to high school.   Greysi is from a small fishing town on the coast of Oaxaca.  She was raised by her grandparents and her aunt after her mother died and then her father left when she was a small child.  After her grandfather had a stroke and could no longer work, the family did not have the money to send Greysi to school.  Greysi's family heard of CDC's program through another young woman in her town who was a resident student at CDC, and they came to visit the program.  Greysi was accepted into the program, and she started high school with a specialty in nursing. 

It was not an easy adjustment, on the surface a happy young woman, she had trouble with motivation, often missing chores and getting up too late for school.  Although cared for by her family, the loss of her mother and abandonment of her father were open wounds that were interfering with her ability to move forward.  At CDC she found a place not only to go to school but also a place to share her story, heal her wounds and find other young women who had lived and survived tragedy in their lives.  

She finished high school and was accepted into Universidad del Istmo nursing program.  She left CDC when one of her cousins came to town to study high school, and her family asked her to look out for her cousin.  She lived near CDC and often visited, as a mentor to the younger students and to keep in touch with her friends still in the program.

Greysi graduated from nursing school and is doing her year of National Service at the Military Hospital in Ixtaltpec, Oaxaca.   She is considering her options after her year of service including enlisting in the Mexican Navy as a nurse.    This fall we invited her to be on our the board of CDC. Her experiences in the program and the community will be of great benefit to our programs.  We are so happy that she had decided to join our work.  She is excited to be able to give back now that she is firmly on the road to her career. 

We thank you all for your continued support of the young women here in Mexico, helping girls like Greysi get an education and then become active members in their community to help others.  As the holiday season approaches please consider a year-end gift to support our program.  Please feel free to contact us if you have any questions regarding the program.  

The staff and students at CDC wish you all a blessed holiday season and a very Happy New Year. 

Greysi in CDC course in 2011 (far left)
Greysi in CDC course in 2011 (far left)
Sep 4, 2018

One Year Later

New school year new faces
New school year new faces

This week will be one year since the 8.2 earthquake hit our region causing massive damage.  As we come upon this anniversary we sat down as a group to see what have been the effects of the quake, where we are today and what comes next.

The first question that most people voice about the earthquake is "When is it going to stop?"  Just this past Sunday we had a 4.9 aftershock with an epicenter less than 5 miles from Juchitan.  On October 25th the National Seismological Survey had registered 39 aftershocks from the Mexico City earthquake of September 19 and over 9500 aftershocks from the earthquake of September 7.  Today the predominant emotion in the region is fear.  Now each time we have an aftershock we pause in fear, asking ourselves "Is it a small quake or  just the beginning of something bigger?" No one feels completely safe and there are many rumors about the future and new and more terrible earthquakes.   To the extreme that one rumor states that the entire region is now permanently unsafe and uninhabitable and that the government is going to relocate entire cities. The lack of information is difficult, a google search about the quake and aftershocks reveal that indeed our quake was unusual in origin and strength and a mystery scientists want to investigate.

Tension, anger are the second most common emotions.  Many people have been able to rebuild in some way and housing is no longer so hard to find, but business has not reopened, so jobs are scarce and many people are frustrated at the lack of support from the government.  Much was promised and little delivered. 

In this continued chaos, Centro de Compartimiento continues our commitment to rebuild spirits and provide an emotional haven.  Not just for our residential students, but for other people in town as well.  

With the anniversary looming we have begun the new school year.  We have filled the house in Juchitan with students,  It sustained little damage in the quake, but we still cannot use our housing in El Espinal so we have space for fewer students. Most schools are still in temporary buildings or using alternative spaces.

We were pleased that our students returned and that more students applied for the program.  We were afraid that many students would not return out of fear, but most told us that they have no other options.  They are happy to be back but feel that they are not quite up to speed in their school work, having rushed through many topics to complete the year. Many school teachers have told me that the kids have taken their start of year evaluations and the majority are not at the level that should be.  

It has been a hard year and will continue to be difficult as the region slowly rebuilds.  We thank you for all your support this past year and hope that you will continue to support our program and the young women who aspire to a better life through education and personal development. 

Jun 6, 2018

Indirect Beneficiary

Supporting one another in hard times
Supporting one another in hard times

When an organization fills out a request for a grant, the grant maker always asks how many people will benefit from the program.  Usually, the direct beneficiaries are easy to count.  You write something like; we will have 100 students in reading circles over the next year.   The next question is a bit harder, it asks about indirect beneficiaries. How many people will your program effect indirectly?  With our program, we usually count the parents of our students because they will have a decreased financial burden because of the support we give in housing and food. Those numbers are hard to predict, and it is even harder to predict how people will benefit yet sometimes those effects are amazing. 

The names and family data have been altered to due to the sensitive nature of events.   

Elena wants to continue her college education, last month her family told her that there was no way they could come up with the money to support her, even with the help of Centro de Compartimiento.  It would not be impossible find someone to give Elena a scholarship to cover the costs of her education, but we have found that it is vital to keep the family involved and responsible for their daughter's education.  So we set out to help Elena look at her options.  During this time one of Elena's younger sisters, Chelo, a middle school student, decided to run away with her boyfriend.  Chelo is 14, her boyfriend 17.  On hearing this Elena went back to her village and persuaded her parents to go and talk to her sister and bring her home.  They went to the home of the young man and asked to talk to their daughter.  Chelo told them she regretted her decision and wanted to return home.  When they informed the young man he stated plainly, "But I have already used her."  His claim was that he had already had sex with her, therefore, she was his.  Virginity is extremely important in the local culture and the implication was that no one else would ever want her now.  Thousands of cases of rape and sexual abuse go unreported every year because no family wants the world to know their daughter may not be a virgin. 

This dilemma paralyzed the family with fear for their daughter's future, but they took her home anyway. Something, not all families will do.  Then Elena suggested the unthinkable, tell even more people. "Let's go to Centro de Compartimiento, tell our story and see if they have any ideas." Amazingly they came.  Elena came back with Mom, Dad, and Chelo to where she felt safe to talk about her life and the difficult issue the family faced.   Mom and Dad were open enough to talk about the problem, they had nowhere else to go, no one else to talk to, no one else to trust.  We were honored to sit and listen to the family and support their decision to take Chelo back.

Today Chelo is with her family and in school, the hard road is not over, it is just beginning,  She has to live in her the village where people know her mistakes, of course, this is only a problem for her, not her boyfriend.  As an indirect benefit of having Elena in our program, the family could recover their daughter from a situation that would normally have lead to a marriage and feel supported in their decision to break with tradition and deal with the stigma in the village for now.  Chelo came last weekend to hang out with her sister and the other students Centro de Compartimiento and soak in the environment and Elena has been going home on other weekends to be with Chelo and help her.  Chelo has been able to talk about the difficulties in the village and the stress in her home because of her parent's marital problems.   Our only message to her, we care about you, you are loved. 

An unexpected turn is that one of Elena's aunts has decided to support her to continue college, Mom and Dad agreed to try and find some extra cash as well.  They were impressed at Elena's maturity and poise and decided that her decisions were sound.  

We cannot tell from one year to the next where our young women are going.  We can't say Chelo is home to stay and won't continue to make mistakes.  We all make mistakes, hopefully, we get back on track and try again.  Our project has the short-term goal of helping young women stay in school.  But our long-term goal is to support them to make good decisions about their lives, in the future give back to their community.  Elena is on a good track, now a mentor and example to her younger sister.

Without your support, we could not do this work.  We thank you on behalf of the young women whose lives you help to improve.  Over the summer we hope you think about our young women as they go home for break, and consider a donation to help with the new school year.    

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