We took another trip to see the work Save The Children does on the ground, this time in Mexico!
Our fundraisers in Mexico recently had the opportunity to visit one of Save the Children's Community Development Centers, located in southern Mexico City. As avid fundraisers for Save, they jumped at the chance to see the change they'd worked so hard for happening in real time, and eagerly departed for the Amecalli center. Robin and Abril, two top notch fundraisers, shared their reflections with us.
We visited one of Save the Children's Community Childhood Development Centers (CCDI), located in the southern part of Mexico City. The center is called "Amecalli" and was founded in 2006. This center initially provided care to a small group of just twenty children, but now serves over one hundred children and their families.
The community center itself consists of two levels, a courtyard, an orchard, and clean bathrooms, providing a serene, harmonious space for children to learn and play. Inside, there are classrooms, where children are divided by age, and a library. The walls are covered in letters, drawings, paintings, informational programs, and inspirational slogan posters.
Children from the ages of one to six receive care in the Early Childhood development center, most of whom live in the local community. The CCDI's early childhood program is a huge help to parents that have to work extended hours, especially single mothers, and the center's workshops also provide single mothers with the chance to further their own education.
Maintenance, materials and food are provided by the community through voluntary contributions. However, institutions like SEDESOL (Mexico's Secretariat of Social Development) also participate, and contribute to training program implementation.
The center follows a holistic education approach. It teaches math, reading and other essential skills, but also fosters artistic expression and critical thinking skills. The center's teachers all come from the community it serves, and dedicate themselves fully to educating their students. Most of them do not have college degrees, but are trained to teach by Save the Children, and constantly receive additional training, to provide their kids with the best education possible.
The center's cultivation of their own orchards, the way the staff prepares food, the ban on sugary drinks for the kids, and the enforcement of excellent hygiene all reflect the depth of consideration for the children's development. These programs also work to educate parents on ways they can improve their own health and hygiene, and promote healthy living throughout the community.
Quetzalli, the current manager of the CCDI, stood out to me as a particularly noteworthy success story for the center. As a child, her mother left her in the care of the community center, and unfortunately, never came back for her. Today, at 21, Quetzalli manages the center, and teaches alongside the teachers who helped raised her, running her own preschool group.
There is more work to be done. The center wants to offer services to one hundred and fifty children, include collaborative programs with the National Institute for Adult Education, and implement more nutrition and addiction prevention programs. But they have made great strides, and I was so inspired by what I saw!
When we arrived at the center I thought it would be like an orphanage, full of sadness and misery. I knew I was about to live an experience that would leave its mark on me forever. It did, but not in the way I imagined. Instead of a depressing orphanage, I found a world full of imagination and order.
Instead of suffering children, I found the opposite. I found children who love to play, full of curiosity. I could see by the way they talked, ran, and played together, how grateful, happy, and excited they were to receive the love and support of their sponsors, like me.
I saw a community of over a hundred children, who visit the center daily. This center teaches kids from kindergarten to high school, so it's a diverse crowd. I immediately noticed everyone's attention to hygiene: after they eat, the children get up from their table in an orderly manner, collect their dirty dishes, give thanks for their food, and form a line to brush their teeth.
After watching the kids learn and play, we learned about the services the community center provides. They cooperate with other local programs to provide the community with fantastic tools like a computer room, continuing education programs for high school graduates, and tutors for children who need extra help. These programs also empower parents with tools for managing their businesses, provide extra meals to families who need them, and host childhood development workshops for new parents.
For the first time, I saw the change my work has created for this community, and for these children. I saw that we are changing the lives of thousands of children, and that has inspired me to continue supporting them, and urging others to do so, too. I am definitely a different person now that I've seen the change we've made.
Thanks again to our incredible partner, Save the Children, for the opportunity!
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