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Sep 26, 2016

Difficult Adjustments

Nereida - returning for 3rd year of college
Nereida - returning for 3rd year of college

Another summer has come and gone and we are back to work here at Centro De Compartimiento for the new school year.  Most of the students spent their summer holiday, one month, with their families in their home villages although our college students did have to spend some extra time in town for summer pratica, so the house in Juchitan never really closed down for the summer.  It is nice to have a full house of students once again after a quiet summer.  The new school year is always interesting, blending the new students in with the returning students and seeing what dynamics develop.  We are one month into the new year and all seems to be going well and all are integrating well. Some home sickness but the returning students are always a great support for the new ones. 

In an interesting turn, much of our focus on adjustment has not been spent on our new students, but on two of our students who left the program in the summer at the end of high school and are having a hard time adjusting to life outside the project.  Both have the dream to continue on with college, but neither family has the resources at this time to pay for their studies.  They decided to work for a year to earn some money to start college and both went to extended family to live and work in a larger city than Juchitan.  After less than a month each was contacting us to say they were miserable and were having a hard time adjusting.  They experienced similar problems.  The family they were with treated them like second class citizens and the jobs they found seemed like good  pay but with unreasonable work  rules and employers who did not treat them with respect.  In one case our student was employed at a grocery warehouse, checking in and out the products that arrived and were sold.  In the afternoons the owner would bring his young son into the ware house and the son, not more than seven year old, would order the staff around to meet his own needs calling the employees with the word "gato" or "gata", which means cat in Spanish.  Our former student did not like being ordered around by a seven year old and wanted to talk to her boss, but her fellow employees warned her off, telling her just to do what the child wanted and get back to her work.   She was amazed at the level of fear the employees had in the work place and how little the employers cared for the workers.  Lateness arriving for work or coming back late from break was punished with two days loss of pay.  Our student told us she worked for three weeks and recieved less than 1/3 her promised pay due to being docked for various reasons including for forgetting to punch in in the morning, and being ill for a half a day.  She began to communicate with us on a regular basis becuase the home where she was staying were also very disorganized and the married couple fought almost every day.   The young son in the family even demonstarted the most effective way to put her fingers in her ears so that she would not hear them fight.  Out of unexpressed anger and frustation she found herself acting out in ways that could be dangerous such as staying out late on the streets at night to avoid being in the home. 

Our focus in the program is not only getting the students through school, but to teach them to live in a harmonious supportive way.  After three years in the program the two students found it very hard to adjust to life in thier strife filled extended families.  Karina has returned to the program to study cosmetology, she tried living with her cousins in another town where the school was less expensive but the negativity in the home and lack of moral support was too much.  We have adjusted the program to allow Karina to work part time to pay for her cosmetology program here in town.  We have not had students who work and study at the same time due to the fact that their studies or house particiaption often suffers.  We shall try again with Karina and see how it goes.  Perla is a harder case as she still dreams of college and her family can´t afford it.  In the mean time we are trying to work with her to keep her dreams alive so that she will make good decisions in her life now and not succumb to the chaos of her extended family.  

We hope that these young women will be able to bring some of the peace and social skills that they have learned here at CDC to their home communities but it is proving a challenge and we need to add something into our program to help them with the adjustment  back into community.  At least now, we are very very pleased that they both recognized the toxic enviroments as such and reached out to us for support.  That is a giant step foward. 

With your support we can continue to have the quality programs for our students and also increase outreach to our former residential students.  We thank you for your support this past summer and hope that you will consider giving a donation to help us start out the new school year.  Our goal for October is to raise $4000 towards this school year..  We have been on the Global Giving page for two years now and have doubled the donations that were given during the first campaign to get us on the site.  Through the site we have been able to reach new donors and increase our donor base, but we do need past donors to continue to give.  We invite you to make a donation to Centro de Compartimiento this month if you can increase your 2014 donation by a minimum of $10 we can cover the increased costs due to inflation over the years since our initial campaign.  I am no marketer but we will use the catch phase of Match +10. If you are a new donor we invite you to match + 10 your most recent donation.  Thank you again for all your support of the wonderful young women here at Centro de Compartimiento.  Our doors and email are always open for questions and conversations about the program.  

One final note of great news.  We found out this week that our former student, Aurelia Martinez has passed her national licensure exam as a lawyer.  We are very proud of her accomplishment.

Aided - joining program to begin high school
Aided - joining program to begin high school


Jun 28, 2016

Maylit, fufulling her dream

Spring reading circle graduates
Spring reading circle graduates

Dear friends it is wonderful to write to you again about our  residential program here at Centro de Compartimiento.  We are at the end of the school year here in Juchitan, Oaxaca and most of the students have gone home for the summer to enjoy time with their families and take a well earned break.  Summer vacation is shorter here in Mexico than in many parts of the world with high school classes finishing only this past week and middle and grade schools still with three weeks to go on the school calendar.  As you may have heard in the news Mexico and our state,Oaxaca, are going through turbulent times.  The teachers unions in the country, but especially in Oaxaca, continue to protests the educational reform passed by the federal government several years ago.  With corruption rampant on all sides it is diffcult to see if students and families will benefit from  the changes to the system either side is proposing. For now the children in preschool through middle school have been without classes for the past month with no end to the strike in sight.  We are doing our best to help small groups of local school children occupied for short times during the day.  This week we will start a three week reading program for children ages 8-12 run by volunteers and residential students.  The groups will focus on reading skills and comprension and also relaxation techinques to help the kids cope with the stress of the violence and upheaval around us. Above is a picture of students who were involved this spring in similar reading circles.

This year we are proud to say that all of our students enrolled in our residencial program have sucessfully completed another level of school  We have three graduates this summer.  Perla is graduating from high school and has applied at  two different universities to study sustainable development.  The Mexican system of college enrollement has students recieving their accpetance to programs in mid July so we are waiting for Perla to inform us about her final decision.  Karina is also graduating from high school this month.  She has enrolled in a cosmotolgoy program in a neighboring city and will being classes in the fall. 

Maylit graduates from nursing school this July. Mayit is from a small village in eastern Oaxaca, she was raised by her grandmother and grandfather after her mother contracted Trichanosis when Maylit was a toddler.  Maylit's mother survived the illness, but is confined to her bed or a wheel chair and cannot easily leave the home.  The village is a two hour drive from any medical facility and no physical therapy was available to help her recover.  Maylit came to CDC two years ago when, after supporting her through two years of college, the family could no longer afford to help her stay in school.  Despite having lived on here own since highschool Maylit fit into the CDC program well and became a mentor and friend to many of the younger students.  This past winter Maylit became the second CDC student to finish our four month adult Servant Leadership course which we offer to women in our community.  Her fellow students and the women in the group were able to support her emotinally this spring when her grandmother died of cancer.  Maylit has always known that as an only child she will be responsible for the care of her mother in the future and she has worked hard to be able to have a career that will help her have the skills and income needed to care for her mother.   This next year she will be giving her year of national service as a nurse, most likely in a small rural village much like her home town.  Her family has banded together to promise her that they will continue to care for her mother as she finishes this final phase of her training.

This past month she showed her understanding of the Servant Leadership model when the women in her class stated that they wanted to support her family in creating ramps in her village home for her mother so that wheelchair access would be easier.  She spoke about the prospect to her family and friends in the village and they decided that it was a project that the community could support and the local men and women donated cement and labor and built the necessary ramps in her grandparent's home.  She then could asked the women in her group to help with the repair needed for her mother's wheelchair, a skill which no one in the village could provide.  She helped mobilize the talents of two groups to help her mother get around the home more easily in the absence of her grandmother.  A true example of Servant Leadership in practice.

With out your support Maylit would not have been able to continue her education. We thank you for all the support you have given to CDC in the past years and hope you will continue with us as we walk with these remarkable young women.  I urge you to engage in dialog with us about Servant Leadership and our CDC community and  we ask you to keep our young women and region in your prayers as we go through this time of social turmoil. 

Mar 29, 2016

Saying Farewell

Naty with her mother and Adela Toledo.
Naty with her mother and Adela Toledo.

You help them find their wings, but then they fly away.  One of the harder parts of the work we do at Centro de Compartimiento (CDC) is when the students are done with their stay at the program and decide to move one.  Many of our students live with us for three to five years and although the goal is to get them out and be a productive serving member of the community it is emotional to let them go.   These past few months we have had two long term participants of the Centro De Compartimiento Program leave the program to start their lives in the community.  Both had been with CDC for seven years and the joy of seeing them take the next step is tinged with the sadness of loss.  

Naty came to us over seven years ago to study high school from a remote rural area.  She was the first in her family to attend high school and since that time her brother has followed in her footsteps.  Her older sister was the one to start her on her path as her father did not consider it worth while to educate a girl who was "just going to get married and raise kids".   She completed high school with CDC and decided to enter a nursing program.  Over the years she grew to find her purpose in life and began to change her relationship with her father for the better.  If high school was a hard pill for her father to swallow, college was even more difficult, but her top grades and dedication convinced him. Last summer she graduated from nursing school and was set to give her year of service in the nursing field. All graduates in the health sciences must work at a state or federal facility for a year, and the pay is often very low, Naty was going to get a stipend of $30 a month.  She stayed with us for several months of her service and then found that by covering shifts for full time nurses she would get paid the normal shift rate of $30.  With several shifts a month and her scholarship she found that she could make ends meet and live closer to the hospital where she is giving her service.   We are so pround of Naty and the progress she has made.  As every proud parent or mentor we are thrilled to see her in the community and see her working yet sad to see her leave.  

For us at CDC we have the new challenges of a younger group of young women.  Last year the average time a student had spent with us was about 4 years, now with the exit of two older students that shifts dramatically, the average time a student has been with is about 2 years.  As we approach the last quater of the school year we are recruiting new students and preparing the ones who are graduating.  

Thank you so much for your ongoing support of our program that makes working with young women possible.  Today we all can boast of two more young women out and serving their community.  With each success we can open the door  to another young woman ready to change her life and make her mark on the world.  We hope that you will continue to walk with us on this journey.    As I regularily mention in my reports, we are an open organization and we are very happy to answer any questions that you may have, recieve any visitors and dialog about our work.  

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