Oct 11, 2016

Apprenticeships Move Vocational Programs Forward

Elena and Laura Creating Jewelry Bags
Elena and Laura Creating Jewelry Bags

The 2016-17 school term is enthusiastically underway. Our new director, Fabiola Ruiz has been busy scheduling classes, developing curriculum, organizing Mexican Sign Language courses for families of our deaf students and others and also helping the faculty of EEE master new teaching skills. The Outreach Program under the guidance of Wendy Coulson, Consultant and with Fabiola representing the school has seen good results. It is their goal to get word out to surrounding communities that the school is open to help all children who are deaf or hearing impaired to receive a bi-lingual education in Mexican Sign Language and written Spanish. They have been visiting government and social service organizations, other schools, and have also given informative interviews on the radio. Already, after less than two short months, the program has brought three more young students to school. We know there are many more yet to be reached.

The Vocational Training Program has also created success over recent months empowering many more of our young people. Several students, both young women and men, worked part-time over the school summer break earning extra income and enhancing their skills in jewellery making and carpentry. They were apprenticed by local business owners and artisans, working in jewellery making studios and carpentry workshops. The carpentry students were also contracted by a US businessman to create maps of Texas using scroll saws and the students in the sewing program were asked to create handmade jewellery bags for a group from Kent State University in Ohio. Although these were both small orders, we are hopeful that they will be the beginning of something bigger for the future.  On another positive note, one of our older students, Jésus, was recently hired by a local business owner to work a few hours each day for a regular salary, balancing school and paid work.  He is joining an alumni of the school, Juan; both having learned the skill of wooden puzzle making using a scroll saw in EEE’s carpentry program. These two deaf young people are now fortunate to have a regular income to assist their families and to help pave their own way to more independent living; proof that the school’s vision can lead to success.

Thank you to all who continue to help empower young deaf students of Mexico through Global Giving.

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Jul 11, 2016

Azucena and Gaby Reach For Their Dreams!

Gaby in Jewellery Workshop
Gaby in Jewellery Workshop

With the school term of 2015-16 drawing to a close, students of Escuela de Educación Especial will find some extra time on their hands, away from studies during the summer months, to pursue other interests. Two such students, both young women, excitedly take on the responsibility of new work challenges during a few weeks outside the comfort and security of the school environment. San Miguel de Allende School for Special Education, supporting deaf and hearing impaired children and young adults, have partnered with professionals in the community to pass along marketable skills to the students. This training will enable students to eventually make their own way working independently once they have completed their studies. The challenges of learning new skills in the "hearing world" is a longer and more difficult path for those deaf and hearing impaired, however, these two young women face these challenges head on. We share with you their stories of strength and determination.

Gaby is 20 years old and working diligently to obtain her primary school certificate. Being deaf and spending her formative years in the Mexican public school system has put her very far back in her academic progress. Gaby, however, has always demonstrated amazing artistic talent during her young life. Over the past year she has been studying jewellery making under the capable guidance of volunteer instructors and local artisans. The volunteers recently commented "We are impressed with Gaby's abilities and her recent creations have shown great promise. This has been supported by the fact that her pieces have been popular items for purchase among visitors and supporters of EEE". These two professional artisans have offered Gaby an apprenticeship position in their jewellery studio during the summer months to assist them with stone setting and other more advanced jewellery making tasks. This opportunity will not only enhance Gaby's artistic and design skills but will also provide her a small income to help her family meet basic needs. Gaby is hopeful that she will have the opportunity to one day pursue a career in jewellery making. She has often mentioned through interpreters "My goal after I finish school is to find a job so I can help my family". This opportunity could well be the stepping stone Gaby needs to achieve her goal. We believe in you Gaby!

Azucena, 24 years old, is in her first year of high school studies at EEE. She and her sister Carla, also profoundly deaf and a preschool teacher at the school, are virtually inseparable. They have been working together over the past several months, with school and volunteer support, to build a cupcake making business of their own. You have likely read about Carla and Azucena's cupcake making activities in previous GG progress reports. In a recent conversation with the school's director Azucena shared "Although I love helping my sister with baking, my first love is cooking. I dream of someday being a chef". We had no idea! Armed with this new information, a partnership was established with a fine local restaurant owner and chef to offer training to Azucena in his kitchen, with the assistance of a Mexican Sign Language interpreter. She is now in her third week of training, learning and practicing many new culinary skills. Way to go Azucena! You are on your way to realizing your dream!   

Please join us in helping empower these two young women, and others who are deaf or hearing impaired, realize their goals and live their dreams!  

Azucena Making Pasta
Azucena Making Pasta

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Apr 15, 2016

Seeing Challenges as Opportunities

Building a cupcake making business has many challenges. Some may be obvious, others not so obvious. Please let me explain...

It is almost six months now that Carla and her sister Azucena have been practicing their craft. They have had dedicated, wonderful volunteers like Laura and Linda, helping them improve their chocolate and vanilla recipes to make the cakes moist, denser and with amazing flavor, allowing too for the high altitude recipe adjustments necessary for San Miguel de Allende. Toppings are the most fun! Smiles all around while creating velvety smooth buttercream, in many, if not all colors of the rainbow with sprinkles and adornments to present the cakes in a way that makes them attractive and desirable for holidays and events such as Christmas, Super Bowl, Valentines Day, Special Birthday Celebrations, St. Patrick’s Day, to name a few.

The most successful venue for sales so far has been the Saturday Organic Market where one Saturday each month they are granted a table spot at no cost (as they represent a non-profit organization) to display and sell their delightful creations. So far you may be thinking, the business doesn't sound all THAT challenging. But making and decorating the cakes is only the tip of the iceberg, there is so much more that goes on behind the scenes.

First challenge; planning what's needed, sourcing, ordering/shopping, and paying for the ingredients required for baking day. Some of the ingredients can only be found at a store in a town 40 minutes drive away.

Second challenge, arranging for the space at the market on the dates prior to the upcoming special holiday dates.

Third challenge; transporting cupcakes, tables, umbrella for shade, table clothes, napkins, platters and stands for display, cash float to make change, boxes to pack cupcakes for takeaway, business cards, etc. etc. and remembering all of these details and more so that nothing important gets left behind.

Forth challenge; marketing and selling to the public on the day.

Fifth challenge; gathering everything back up, bringing it all home, and preparing the supplies for the next time.

Sixth challenge; counting the sales proceeds, paying those who you hired to help you that day while taking into account the budgeting required for overhead, supplies and ingredients.

Again you might be thinking, well maybe its challenging but not really all THAT challenging! Well think again...Carla and Azucena cannot hear and cannot speak.  They are deaf and they are mute. They live in Mexico, a country that does not provide the opportunities for those with disabilities to receive a proper education. Their  family has very limited financial resources. More challenges, or perhaps more opportunties. The sisters certainly haven't allowed their disability, their lack of education or their lack of resources from believing that they can make their dream a reality.

Carla and Azucena, and the people who volunteer to help them, look at these challenges as opportunities for them to practice, grow, and learn. Practice helps their challenges seem less daunting, especially when it requires them to be up front in a public space with little means to communicate with potential buyers. It helps them grow by building self-confidence and providing them with the knowledge that they can do anything that they set their minds to. It allows them to learn new things by first being shown how and then doing for themselves. And as each market day passes the challenges seem smaller and easier to overcome. This is how building a business empowers two deaf young women in Mexico.

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