In May we had the sixth annual event of girls, boys and young workers. This event last 4 hours, where the children and the teenagers were able to share experiences, life stories and talked about their rights.
30 children and teenagers, assist to the event, and 100% were in school and planning to continue with their education. Which means that Melel´s goal has been accomplished, at least for those 30 children and teenagers.
During the event, we gave them a t-shirt, lunch and we play lots of educational games. You could see the youngest ones speaking about their rights at the podium with the microphone, it was really emotive.
The importance of this event, was to create a safe space where the children and the teenagers can share similar experiences, thoughts, problems and understand that they are not alone. Is also a moment to think about the possible solutions of what they are facing and ensure a strong social network to make them feel empowered.
We are vey grateful about all your generous donations y we want to thank global giving for giving us the opportunity of raising money, that help us increase our educational activities, benefiting more children every day.
In February we launched a campaign to encourage families to obtain birth certificates for their children, as well as continuing the other activities of the project.
Obtaining a birth certificate and a registered legal identity is an essential prerequisite for enrolling children in school, and for them to qualify for government health programs. Despite this, lack of registration remains a major barrier which contributes to thousands of children in our city not attending school.
According to government statistics for 2010, nearly half of all children in Chiapas under the age of one had not yet obtained a birth certificate. There is no equivalent figure for the indigenous Mayan population (around a third of all people in Chiapas), but it is certainly much lower, as they constitute the poorest and most marginalized section of society.
Our campaign includes putting up posters, handing out leaflets and explaining to people how to register their children. So far, we have put up 72 posters in public places, mostly in markets, which are visited by thousands of people every day and are central in the lives of both the indigenous and mestizo population. So far we have handed out 90 leaflets in the Mayan Tsotsil language and 92 in Spanish, explaining to the recipients how they can register their children.
In addition, we have prepared radio announcements for the campaign (also in Spanish and Tsotsil) which are currently being broadcast on six community radio stations and also in the radio stations of the Merposur and Tielmans markets.
We expect this work to substantially increase registrations this year.
Following pressure from child rights organizations including Melel Xojobal, the government is slowly moving to address this issue. During the month of April families can now obtain the document free of charge. The state government has also commissioned a review to see how the registration process can be made easier and less bureaucratic.We are also working with the Civil Registry office to encourage them to create out-reach teams to continue the activities we are currently running.
There is a long way to go however. We still encounter stories of families turning up at government offices to be told they have run out of forms, or that the relevant staff are not present. Discriminatory attitudes against indigenous people also remain a problem. During April we will be paying close attention to identify these kinds of problems in order to press the government to do more.
Once again, a big thank you to all our GlobalGiving donors for your support for this work, which is tremendously important to get children into school and help families protect their rights.
Over the last 12 months, your help has made a huge difference to the children in the project. During this period, 258 children aged 6 -13 have taken part in activities.
The independent evaluation of the project, conducted last summer, found that 94% of children passed their end of year school test, and that 100% want to continue studying. This is a big difference in a city where a third of children drop out of education after primary school (and a substantial number never enroll, even at primary level).
We know our project works, and we’re incredibly grateful for your help: on a daily basis we see the difference it makes to the children.
But, as ever, work like this requires resources. That’s why we’re asking in the run-up to Christmas if you could support us with a donation, to help us keep this project running throughout 2014.
And if you think friends, colleagues or family might support our project, please consider telling them - share the following link on Facebook or Twitter, or just bring us up in conversation: http://tinyurl.com/mb9tax3
Thanks once again for your generous support, I hope you have a great Christmas.
PS if you haven’t already seen it, please watch this 60 second video from the children thanking you for your help. http://youtu.be/LjthBWog3HI
What the children say about the project:
“I used to be afraid of trying anything, I thought I’d never amount to anything. I was afraid to go to secondary school because I didn’t think I was good enough. Now I feel that I really can do things. Taking part has changed the way I am.” (Sara, 13)
“I live in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, in Chiapas. This [the project] has helped me a lot. Before I used to get low marks at school because the textbooks were too expensive for my family. Thanks to the scholarship from Melel, my marks have improved.” (Martha, 11)
What parents say:
“I’ve said to my children that I want them to go to school, it’s the best inheritance I can give them. So that when they’re older they can be a sales manager or a teacher or something like that, not a street vendor like me. (Daniel, father)
“I see how enthusiastic my daughter is when she comes back from school and does her homework, she seems much more lively these days; even the teacher has been congratulating us for sending her to Melel”. (Annalisa, Mother)
I'm really sorry, the email you were sent on Saturday linked to the wrong video on YouTube...
Different groups of children helped to make a very short video to thank you for your support, here's the correct link:
The children who helped make this video were:
Jenifer, 12 years old; Lizeth, 8; Paola, 13; Yesennia, 13; Itzel, 12; Sacubel, 7; Eyulisa, 12; Yolanda, 11; Eduardo, 11; José, 10; Erik, 3; David, 5; Ana, 11; Víctor, 8; Juan, 10; Carla, 8; Rodulfo, 13; Juan, 11; Juana, 10; Jade, 11; Dayra, 9; Eduardo, 12; Jorge, 13; Edith, 12; Josué, 6; Sandi, 9; Silvia, 10
With your help, 258 working children have been able to take part in project activities this year.
In our city where many children have to work, and where many have no way of ensuring their right to education, the project you have supported has made a real difference.
The independent evaluation of the project this summer found that 97% of child participants interviewed are currently in school, 94% passed the end of year exam, and 100% of those interviewed will continue studying next year.
And all the children in the project are there because they really enjoy the activities and choose to take part!
In this 1 minute video, they say thanks for your support:
(links to YouTube page)
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San Cristobal de Las Casas,
San Cristobal de Las Casas,