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Mar 6, 2019

Repairs Have Begun

Celebrating the Holidays Together
Celebrating the Holidays Together

I am so happy to report that we have begun repairs at our Casa Isabel program center in El Espinal Oaxaca.  It may not look like it on the project, but we reached our goal of $10,000 USD.  Between this project and the Casa Isabel Microproject #34316, we raised over 5500.00 dollars which were generously matched by the GlobalGiving Mexico Earthquake Relief Fund.   This past January the matching funds were disbursed and we were able to start repairs. 

All good news on the repair front, once the stucco was taken off the main supports that had minor cracks, the masons found no structural damage, so in the end, it was only the walls and bathroom.  So the plan was set in motion, to repair and re-stucco the walls, fix up the damage in the four bathrooms, replace fixtures in the bathrooms that were damaged from disuse, put the water tank back on the roof with extra protection from the wind, reseal the roof,  and paint the entire house.  With a team for four workers, the work has been going quickly and we expect to be finished this month. 

The happiest members of the Casa Isabel crew are our dogs (no students live here yet), who hang out with the workers while they have their breakfast.  Work starts early, the workers arrive before 7 am, they take a break at 9 for breakfast and then continue to work until 3 pm.  To save money we hired the team of workers, but have been purchasing the materials ourselves.  It is a lot more work, and a bit of last minute running around when the workers find that one copper pipe or valve needs replacing.  Now we are all experts in building material jargon and where to get the best price.  Contracting only labor and making all the purchases ourselves saved us about 2,000 USD, which will be used for the repairs at our Casa Angles property in Juchitan.  

Unfortunately, we have not been able to get any movement on the wall at the Casa Isabel property.  The owner states that he is unable to repair the walls at this time, so we have to decide if we want to tear down the wall and put up our own, or just leave the fence we have for now.  We have enough money, so we can make the decisions after we finish in El Espinal.  

Winter is winding down, and spring will arrive soon, for us, it is the hottest time of year, and no one is very happy about April and May in the Isthmus, well maybe the iguanas.  The work should be done before the heat sets in.  We are excited about getting the house back in order.   This week we will celebrate International Women's Day hosting a play called, Dancing Alone Every Night, a dark comedy about women in modern society and domestic violence.  Juchitan has a newly formed theater company and Centro de Compartimiento has been working with the leaders of the company to see how we can work together with our young women.  Drama is a great outlet for many emotional issues.  

.  It has been a difficult year and a half but knowing we have the support of so many wonderful people keeps us going. The aftershocks have not stopped, The reports from the government put us at over 28,000 aftershocks, but they are less and less strong, and most often we don't even feel them.  Thank you so much for your gifts that have made these repairs possible.  Please feel free to contact us with any questions you have regarding our programs.  

Damage at the El Espinal Student House
Damage at the El Espinal Student House
New stucco, no more cracked walls
New stucco, no more cracked walls
Front Entrance to Casa Isabel
Front Entrance to Casa Isabel
Aftershocks from March 4th and 5th, 2019
Aftershocks from March 4th and 5th, 2019
Mar 4, 2019

Teaching the Wrong Thing

This past month we have had a lot of movement among the residential students here at Centro de Compartimiento, A.C.  We had two first-year college students leave because their families could no longer pay the tuition at the private school where they had enrolled.  Ada was able to finish her first semester but Nalla was not.   Tuition may not seem high, it is about $100 -150 USD a month, but for families from rural areas, it is a challenge.   In town, someone with a vocation, like a carpenter, mason, or electrician can pull in up from 15-20 USD a day, but most other jobs only pay around 7-12 USD a day.  In rural areas most families do not have a steady income, they get a yearly sum when crops come in, eat what they grow and off-season the men leave home for day wage jobs. Most people in town and rural areas live week to week, sometimes day to day.  Financial planning is almost unheard of.  The two families thought they had plans to make it work, yet the expenses very quickly got out of hand, even with the support that CDC gives.  We need to evaluate very early and carefully a family's plans to pay for a private school.  

The two openings were advertised and filled almost immediately.  Two young women, both enrolled in their first year at the Normal in Ixtepec applied to the program.    Both had begun their first semester only to find that it was too expensive to rent a room and pay for their own board.  As a public school, the Normal has only a few fees, no tuition.  The problem is that it is controlled by Section 22 of the national teachers union. The union is powerful in Mexico and Section 22 is one of the most active and intransigent.  The union in our state of Oaxaca has the power to give out permanent teaching positions in the state and in the past students from the Normal have been given positions upon graduation.  This made the Normal very hard to get into and the union expects the students to join them in the marches, protests, school closings and strikes they use to pressure the state and national government. Unions are important and have a place in society, but Section 22 goes overboard, often striking just to show they can.  In 2006 and 2012 they closed down the Oaxaca school system for months. 

Now the Normal is reaping what it has sown as the students themselves have closed down the school, refusing to let staff in because the government has added a new fee to the national teacher certification process and the fourth year students don´t want to pay.  They have invited the other students to become involved stating that it will benefit them as well.  The school has been closed since December and our new students have not had classes.  In the teacher's school they were teaching the wrong things; division, the power of the mob, peer pressure and much more. 

Our two new students applied and were accepted into the program with the hope that the school would reopen soon.  That did not happen, and there is no end in sight.  One student has decided to wait out the closing at home and then perhaps reapply to our program, the second student has decided to try and transfer to another Normal in the state once the school reopens.  But for now, we felt we needed to open the spaces up for other students.  Our program is more than just a boarding place, between personal development courses, chore schedules, and community service, we can´t have students enrolled in our program but not staying at the house. 

There are so many challenges to our young people as they struggle to get a higher education.  Some problems we can help solve, but many we can not. Some times the teachings at their schools come into conflict with our own core values.   It has been a hard year so far, but we have opened up two spots again and expect them to fill soon.

Without your support, we could not continue our work with our young women.  We thank you for your support and asked that you consider giving a donation to support the students as we going into the spring semester.  

Dec 6, 2018

Still Waiting

Heydi and Bris with our holiday decorations
Heydi and Bris with our holiday decorations

We never thought we would be grateful for the fact that our lovely trees on our Espinal property are enticing to birds and they leave their droppings on any vehicle parked in the shade.  For years it has been a problem.  The lovely mahogany trees also form hard baseball size seed pods once a year and we have had cracked windshields on our van twice.  So I found a parking spot where only back end was under a mango tree, and the mess was limited to the back end of the van. I could not pull it any further forward because a sinkhole had formed next to the old unused septic tank.   Finally, our director told me to give up on the shade and park the van in the sun away from the trees and birds.  Not a week later the high winds blew off the water tank from the roof of the house and it fell... right where the van had been parked.   Since we have not been using the house, we did not notice that all the water had leaked out of the plastic 1100 L tank.  Leaving it vulnerable to the 50 mph gusts of wind that are common here in the fall and winter. 

Fortunately, the tank did not split from the fall and we can just put it back on the roof.  Unfortunately, the birds still love our trees.   One bit more to do to repair our program center, Casa Isabel, located in El Espinal, Oaxaca.   We have not advanced much in the repairs to our property.  We need about 10,000 USD and have so far raised around 4,400 on GlobalGiving.  With the 100% match that was initiated in September to help projects recover from the earthquakes in Mexico, we will be receiving an additional 4,400 USD from GlobalGiving after the matching ends after December 31.  That means with only 1,100 USD more in donations on GlobalGiving before December 31 and the match, we will have met our goal for repairs.  

We have estimates for the repairs and have chosen a builder for the work at Casa Isabel.  At Casa Angles, we closed off the space of the fallen wall with corrugated tin roofing sheets.  We have not yet come to an agreement yet with our neighbor about the repairs.  He propped up the ten meters of the wall that are still standing and put up a barbed wire fence in the opening, but we felt it was not enough, and then we began to get stray dogs roaming our property from his.  Now no one can see into our property from the outside and the dogs are gone as well.   We will have the funds to build a wall on our side of the property line, but we can do nothing until the old wall is completely torn down.  Negotiations are ongoing.

For now, the students are much safer, the dogs have been kept out and we are hoping to have the funds we need by the end of the year.  GlobalGiving will match at 100% every donation given to the project from now until December, so we are very near our goal.  As you look at your giving for the end of the calendar year please consider another donation to our project. Also, please share the project with your friends.  

We at Centro De Compartimiento wish you happy holiday season, and blessings this New Year.  We thank you for our ongoing support of our students.  

Rainy season opened a sink hole in our yard
Rainy season opened a sink hole in our yard
 
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