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Jun 26, 2017

An Examined Life

Heydi, finishing her second year of high school
Heydi, finishing her second year of high school

I am not sure exactly whaI am not sure exactly what Socrates meant when he said, “An unexamined life is not worth living.” I looked it up briefly online and got too many ideas to sort through. But I do know for sure that real growth and change happens in our students when they first start talking about their lives and then began a process of examination. In our students, this usually occurs about a year into the program when the feel safe enough to start looking at the hard parts of their lives. To foster this process, these past few months, we have been working on a personal growth exercise with the students. Each student was asked to write a two-page autobiography based on an outline that we provided. We asked the young women to write about their family, any significant role models or forming events in their life up to now, and their faith and spiritual environment while growing up. Staff and students wrote their autobiographies.


At our weekly group meetings on Thursday, a student or staff member was given a chance to read her autobiography out loud. The sessions were scheduled so that everyone knew when it was her turn. The responses from the students varied considerably. Some wrote only a short page, most wrote several pages, one seemed to have notes but just spoke free form about her life for almost an hour and one refused to write or read, allowing us to have a discussion on the value of sharing our lives with others. Not one session ended without tears and hugs.
It is amazing and scary to hear the stories of these young women´s lives. Common themes abounded; alcoholic families, fathers and brothers working abroad, abuse, community violence and lack of hope as girls in the community. These are all stumbling blocks for the young women to get ahead in life and if they do not face them, they can get tripped up and drop out of school.


We often visit the families of our students and in March we went to visit the family of one of our high school students whose father had injured his back at work, and the doctors had told him he would never walk again. He told us of his faith and conversion and what seems to be a miraculous healing. We were awed. His daughter told us a similar story but also shared how after his recovery her father took a new job where his co-workers drank a lot after work, how he fell into alcoholism and nearly left his family, and how her mother held the family together for years until her father got help and returned. She did not read, she just told us the raw story, crying most of the time, letting her pain and sadness flow out to the group to be shared and accepted. These are the precious moments in our program.  This is the beginning of healing that is needed for our young women to succeed.  


We thank you for helping us to provide a place where young women can come and heal as well as continue their education. We are closing out the school year now and looking forward to summer vacation.  We now have three opening available for new students next school year but already have five applicants. Our annual budget is around 60,000 USD, of which we have pledged around 40,000 USD from foundations and local donors. We invite you to give to the program over our summer break so that we can be sure to be fully funded for the upcoming school year.  

This summer on July 12, GlobalGiving is having a bonus day where donations will be matched.  Please mark your calendar.  Together we are making a difference in the lives of young women and their families here in Mexico. 

Sharing our stories.
Sharing our stories.
Mar 24, 2017

Not In This Alone

Heydi with three generations of her family
Heydi with three generations of her family

Heydi is a 17-year-old from a small community in Eastern Oaxaca.  Thanks to your support of Centro de Compartimiento she is currently in her second year of high school studying public, she dreams of being a nurse.  As part of our program, we like to visit our student´s home communities, meet their families and hear their stories.  This month we had the opportunity to go and visit Heydi's community and it turned out that the date we had available was also her birthday.  We took our van with a contingent of students and some guests and drove out from town an hour to visit the family.  Heydi's grandfather told us how he moved down from the mountains with his family as a boy to find better farmland and how the community was founded.  Heydi's father, a cattle hand, told us about his work on a local ranch.  He leaves his family six days a week to work.  His salary is one thousand pesos a week, which today is worth a little over fifty US dollars.   He sends five hundred pesos a week to cover Heydi´s school costs.  He told us Heydi would not be in school if Centro de Compartimiento did to give her room and board, a cost that would be more than his weekly salary. 

Most importantly the students who accompanied us on this visit got to hear from a man whose faith and perseverance is amazing, and we found the roots of Heydi´s desire to become a nurse.  Eight years ago, while Heydi´s father worked on a ranch, the power went out in a wind storm.  His employer told him to climb the electrical pole to reconnect the power so that they could continue to watch TV.   Against his better judgment and after some protest he climbed the pole.  While attempting to reconnect the line he was electrocuted and fell to the ground injuring his back.  At the local hospital, he was told her would never walk again, leaving his wife to care for him and the children  He lived for a year lying on a wooden plank, traveling an hour to the hospital every week.  He found comfort with the support of a local church community and prayer.   He was granted his miracle 6 months into his convalescence when feeling began to return to his legs, it was another six months before he could walk, but he never lost his faith.  His journey inspired his daughter to be a nurse.  Today he is a leader in his church and an inspiration the people of his community.  

We at Centro de Compartimiento thank you for the support that you have given to Heydi and other young women in fulfilling their dreams for higher education.  Please consider making a donation this month to support these wonderful young women and their families.  Continue to show them that they are not alone, join us and their families to give them a solid base for the future

Heydi with some of her fellow students.
Heydi with some of her fellow students.
Dec 27, 2016

Housemother at CDC, not the job I expected.

Ofelia
Ofelia

My name is Ofelia Flor Diaz Alavez. I am 26 years old and I graduated with a degree in Communication for Social Development from the Ayuuk Intercultural Institute, a Catholic College for indigenous students in my home town of Jaltepec de Candayoc, Oaxaca. I am an indigenous Mexican of Ayuuk (Mixe) descent; in my hometown we still use our native language on a daily basis as well as Spanish.   I work for Centro de Compartimiento (CDC) as a housemother, living with the young women in the residential program.

In 2014 I started working at CDC. It was not an easy decision to make because I did not understand the project very well.   After my first interview with CDC I thought that my job would be like most others, that is, to comply with a schedule and a list of duties. There are many boarding schools in our region for children from rural villages so I thought I understood what the job was going to be like. My second interview involved staying overnight at the house with the students and I realized then that CDC was a different type of job. CDC was less of a boarding home and more of a family. A place that not only meets the basic needs of each residential student but also where we get to know the heart of each person, their dreams and that which lies deep within.

I took the job I was excited about helping the students in their personal growth, what I did not realize was that I also needed to go through the process. The process of sharing and getting to know each other in order to heal is not easy for anyone. To teach the steps to make deep changes in their lives I also had to take them. I began without truly understanding. Sometimes I resisted, I despaired and even got angry. It took us a while to get used to each other. I was not much older than the students and it was hard to establish my authority. Some of the things I was asked to do I did not understand. Many times I wanted to leave.

I think it is easy to work with reports, software, cameras, and projects, etc., but working directly with young peoplewho have different personalities, different characters and stories is not easy. I often can not find a way to describe it. Every situationcan be a challenge when it is vital to care for the wholeness, peace and education of each student.  In college we do not learn to hug. We do not learn the words to comfort a sad, angry or tired heart.I was not taught how to wipe away tears and know why “things” happen in the lives of our students. When I realized that we were more like family I began to treat the students as I would younger sisters, yet being the youngest child and only girl in my family this too was new to me but each shared moment also taught me. I learned that I too have things that I need to learn and change.    The other staff members, Adela and Kristin, helped me along the path to grow, and I took the CDC Servant Leadership course for adults to understand better the ideas behind what CDC is doing.

Now I have been working for more than two years at CDC, apart from developing professional skills, I have learned different ways of relating to people, different ways of working as a team, in addition to knowing my self better. In the field of communication one is constantly involved in research, writing and witnessing social movements. We are taught to find and report the bad, unjust and corrupt. One can often feel angry and impotent. There is even danger if a journalist is not prudent with what they cover. Instead I feel very happy to be in a place where you can give good news, where, even though slow and small, steps are made to make positive change in our communities. Perhaps we do not drastically change the situation in our world, but seeing someone continue to fight for their dreams and seeing how they have grown as a person and as a citizen of thiscountry that needs us so much is the best reward. Working in CDC is a challenge every day, it also teaches me to constantly look for opportunities for service and learning.

The staff and students at CDC want to thank you for all your support this past year and wish you a very happy holiday season and blessing in this New Year. Our work is ongoing, in January the students will return for the second semester of this school year. We hope that you will consider giving again as the year draws to a close, and continue to give these wonderful young women a chance to learn, discover and grow.    

Thursday night reading groups with students
Thursday night reading groups with students
CDC staff and volunteer corps
CDC staff and volunteer corps
 
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