The Winds of Change
|It’s not unusual for people to ask what possessed me to start a charity. “Insanity”, is the first word that pops out of my mouth. Being a little bit nuts comes naturally because my real profession is social work. I mean, really, what sane person would do that job? |
When I moved to La Paz in 2001, my dream was to lay under palm trees and eat chocolates. That lasted about three weeks until boredom set in. As a social worker, I worked under extraordinarily intense conditions in an Emergency Department in a trauma hospital. Unless there was adrenaline involved, most other things in life seemed rather bland.
Once my body settled down, I was able to take a good look at my surroundings. What I saw was not a pretty picture. Beyond the beauty of the pristine beaches and dramatic desert, just a few kilometres from the waterfront and tourist area, was another Mexico, a Mexico that few tourists or even residents to this day even see.
I really became a social worker because people’s lives matter to me. Wanting to serve again kicked in when I visited the poorest and most marginalized communities, whole neighbourhoods without basic needs such as piped-in water, electricity, and sewage. Homes built of tin roofs, pieces of wood, dirt floors, and no indoor cooking facilities.
Feeling moved to do something about this poverty, I founded the charity, and with the collaboration of some of the concerned mothers in one of the poorest communities in La Paz, began a breakfast program for the many children who went to school hungry. A year later, our charity started a scholarship program for students in junior high and high school with good grades and a strong desire to “be someone in life”. Education is the key for children to rise out of the grip of poverty. Can you imagine having to drop out of school because there is not enough money to pay for your education? What if parental pressure forces you to work? It’s unthinkable, isn’t it?
The years flew by. In that time, we developed programs where we believed the most need existed. Programs that focus on kids: providing them mattresses, an “After School Initiative” where kids can play games or do homework, the monthly “Let’s Play” event with games and prizes. You will probably never see these children at dance or music classes or even some organized sports events. Lack of financial resources in the families would prevent that. We did what we could to tap into the under-stimulated part of those children’s lives.
When I started the charity, I had no idea if it would last only one year or a dozen. It really didn’t matter. I was doing what gave me passion and as long as I could see change, improvement and success, I was delighted.
After fourteen years of putting my heart and soul into the charity, I made the decision to retire as of June 30 and hand it over to very competent volunteers and board members to continue with our mission. We’re bringing on a new President, Susu Sanders, who I’ve known and respected for years. She founded a horse therapy program for special needs children with problems such as Down’s, Cerebral Palsy, etc. and will bring her program called Kids Up under the umbrella of our charity. Alejandra Rojano, a charismatic, and a little bit crazy, bi-lingual teacher, will be the person in charge of the scholarship program, along with our existing director, Oscar Montoya.
Everything will continue to run as usual: our website, email address, bank and PayPal account, newsletter, and Facebook page.
When I look at the charity now, after all these years, a majestic tree comes to mind: its roots run deep, the trunk stands sturdy, its branches breathe life, and the thick foliage forms a solid shade.
With everything in place and running well, It’s the perfect time to move on. For fourteen years, this “second” career has been both challenging and rewarding. I’ve been privileged to be part of a team who has been like a second family. The times shared, the friendships forged and the incredible successes which we have enjoyed have been an extraordinary part of my life. I am very proud of what we have achieved and I leave feeling confident that things will get even better.
It was not an easy decision to say good-bye but a good friend told me not to look at it as a good-bye but as part of a relay that I ran and am now handing over the baton to the next runner. I look forward to starting a new chapter in my life, and doing the things I’ve put on hold before I get too old to do them. To all the wonderful people I’ve worked with over the years and to all our readers – thank you. Thank you for all your support and encouragement. It’s what’s kept me going in this awesome work!
God bless you,
Meet the New Team
I am so grateful to Barbara and to Care for Kids La Paz for giving me the opportunity to work in the community of Vista Hermosa. My hope is to serve kids and their families effectively through Barbara’s existing programs.
We will continue the “Let’s Play” activities for elementary school children. It is an excellent opportunity to improve academic skills, broaden experiences and provide mentoring to the youngest kids in the community. It also allows us to identify more families who need assistance and children who may need scholarships in the years to come.
During this time, we will also be providing classes for parents. These classes will be offered by Ale Rojano of Internal Solutions. Internal Solutions is a program developed by Ale several years ago in which parents, teachers and students are educated in values and emotional intelligence so that they can work together to resolve conflict.
The scholarship program will continue and we hope to expand to include scholarships for university students. Students will continue with community service, but they will now have more diverse opportunities with the addition of Internal Solutions and Kids Up Equine Assisted Therapy, which I started 5 years ago for special needs children. As well, we will continue to provide food to families in crisis.
As for my part, in my time as an educator, my years working for incredibly wealthy people on a yacht as a chef, and my experiences with disabled people and horses, I’ve learned that pity can be an extremely destructive thing; that is, if it is just a reaction and a desire to escape the suffering of another.
But if we can see our helping as a commingling of need, then we have a partnership where all of us can work together.
So, I challenge you, our donors, our supporters, our champions, to search out what motivates you to give. Spending money is how we show intent. Why you give what you do is, in part, this community’s gift back to you.
I’m Alejandra Rojano, the President and founder of Internal Solutions, a holistic Mexican association that has worked in the city of La Paz for three years with teachers, students and parents, providing them with a new perspective about compassionate learning with the collaboration among both Mexican and non-Mexican volunteers.
Now, Care for Kids la Paz has invited me to lead the scholarship program, which is a big privilege. I want to pour my 25+ years experience in the educational field, as a Mexican national that understands the local culture, into this program.
I believe I can significantly add to the scholarship program and help the community grow into a more compassionate society that serves as an example to other neighbourhoods in similar situations.
Four New Graduates
Congratulations to four of our scholarship students who just graduated from high school and have been accepted into a university program of their choice: Business Admin, Software Engineering, Accounting, and Education. They’re each holding the perfect gift for a student – a pen with their name engraved on it.
We couldn’t be more proud of their accomplishment and excited for their future!
We are proud to say that twenty-three of our students have graduated from our scholarship program. Most have gone on to study at the university level and one graduated with a PhD.
Poverty is identified as one of the main reasons children drop out of school. It’s difficult to stay in school when money doesn’t stretch far enough to pay for school supplies, uniforms, shoes, tuition and bus fare. Yet, some of the children do exceptionally well academically despite their home situation.
Education is an effective way to reduce poverty and inequality. That is why we established a scholarship program to give these kids a powerful opportunity to better their lives so that they can rise out of the grip of poverty.
All of our students tell us they want to be “someone in life”. They are bright, hard-working and determined to get ahead. Their parents sacrifice so much for them so their children can accomplish what they didn’t have the opportunity to.
If you are interested in being a sponsor and building a relationship with a student and his/her family, clink on this link, or write us at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information because every child deserves to have a future!