Project update: Education for 250 working children in Chiapas
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This update provides three testimonies, to let working children and their families express in their own words the value of the project that our Global Giving donors are helping to support.
The comments show how project scholarships allow children to attend school and to access health services. They also illustrate other benefits, from gaining confidence and learning how to get on better with other people, to taking part in circus activities or in making videos and radio programmes, to understanding what their rights are, and what constitutes abuse of those rights. All of the comments below were recorded in home visits by Melel’s project workers on 30th January 2013; names have been changed.
Guadalupe, mother of Berenice, 11 years old.
“My daughter started to take part [in Melel’s activities] in the school holidays in 2011; since then I’ve seen that she gets on much better with other people, whether of her own age or older. She’s been to more places – last year she went to an event in Mexico City to represent working children from San Cristóbal. She’s also learned to use a computer in Melel, and how to use email. This year she got a scholarship which pays for her school uniform, shoes and the fees the school asks for – for enrollment and to take the exam to enter secondary school. Because of the scholarship I now have the money to pay for a medical assessment, because she gets lots of headaches. It’s solved the problem of not being able to take her to the doctor for lack of money.”
Berenice, (Guadalupe’s daughter - sells cakes and sweets in the city’s streets, works in a shop and looks after 3 younger brothers)
“Yes, for me, there have been changes because now I know what my rights are as a child, they have to do with helping me to grow up, for instance having a good education, being healthy, knowing that people can’t abuse us, and that adults should let us participate. They don’t teach you that in school, they don’t help ensure that our rights are respected, because they don’t explain what they are. Before I started coming to Melel I just wasted time after school do nothing except playing. Since coming to Melel my life has changed, because we do group activities like making videos, radio programmes, reading, discussing what we think, and we also play in events with other girls and boys who are working and studying. I really like going to [Melel’s] Learning Circles each Monday, and to the Social Circus on Thursdays [another activity Melel runs, teaching social skills through circus activities like tight-rope or stilts]. I’ve benefitted a lot from the scholarship because now I don’t miss classes because I have the bus fare; now I don’t go to school only when I’m ill. Before, I used to miss school a lot because we didn’t have money for the bus fare. Also, my mother now gives me yoghurt with oats and fruit to eat in the school break [i.e. because she can afford to do so], even though she puts in more oats than yoghurt.”
Jimena, mother of Maria, 11 years old, who sells, shawls, belts and clay animals in the Cathedral Square in the afternoon and at night.
Well, I see now that she’s more interested in accompanying me at work. She makes little clay animals, she good at selling and doing the accounts. I see she’s more lively because she doesn’t have the worry of not selling enough to cover school costs or to buy food. She likes going to Melel because she gets the scholarship, which covers the coast of doctors fees and medicines, and her school things. And also because she’s learning how to get on with other people and learning what’s fair treatment when she’s working and what’s abuse.
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San Cristobal de Las Casas,
San Cristobal de Las Casas,