Project #7444

Educate 400 adults in rural Mexico

by Adeco Acciones para el Desarrollo Comunitario A.C.
The group is ready to meet the goal
The group is ready to meet the goal

The preparations have finally come to an end; now it’s time to get some fieldwork done. For the past 21 weeks, beginning on January the 24th, our group of volunteers has taken part in many different activities to get everything ready for our campaign. We divide these activities into 3 main categories: training, community diagnostic, and fundraising. “In a couple of days we leave the city and I am very excited! It’s the first time I participate, and although the only preconceptions I have from this project are formed by my peers’ anecdotes, I don’t feel alienated from it. Some of them say they are dying with fright, but I’m not (I will probably feel that way the first time I stand in front of a group –but not yet)." Said Dafne, a 16 years old volunteer.


For every volunteer to be able to teach how to read and write, and simultaneously manage a group, they received the following training:

  • Class Simulations.- Each volunteer prepared and delivered a class to his peers simulating situations they could confront in their real classes so as to prepare them for what is to come in the rural community.  Special emphasis was made on the practice of Paulo Freire’s Critical pedagogy, focused on literacy teaching.
  • Observatories.- Through the facilitation of debates regarding current news or relevant topics to the group, volunteers sharpened their investigation, critical thinking, class planning and objective-setting skills.
  • Readings.- To solidify the theoretical and philosophical background this project intends to create in its participants, volunteers read texts from different pedagogues (mostly by Paulo Freire) and discussed them in self-made group activities.
  • Conferences.- The group reinforced its training through lectures given by 6 experts on various topics related to community intervention.
  • Material creation.- The results of systematizing our work include a literacy volunteer manual, a reading compendium, a small periodicals library, didactic material made specifically for our purposes, and books for class preparation and development.
  • Knowledge cores.- Teams were formed to research different topics, such as health, history, mathematics, science, and others. These topics, being relevant to the community, are to be debated and reflected upon in every volunteer’s class, and with them we gather relevant aiding material for our work with the students.

Community diagnostic 

Shortly after last year’s campaign ended, we began searching for new possible communities where we could implement our project, “¡Alfabetiza!” 2015, in. Eventually we found three promising options where we believe our project could thrive. After thorough analysis and debate over where our project would be most useful and better received, we decided to work in San José Corral Blanco, a rural community in the municipality of Chignahuapan, Puebla.

As part of our preparation, our group of volunteers made two weekend trips to San José Corral Blanco; one in March and another in May. To get to know the people we will be working with we conversed with some of the locals (around 120 people) and with local and municipal authorities.

In the community, the most common reading/writing practice observed is the signing of documents related to several governmental programs that reach out to the community. Writing petition letters to the township, and receiving propaganda and publicity are among the most common uses of reading and writing in San José Corral Blanco. During our trips the people expressed interest in learning how to read and write for three main reasons: to support the work they do at their jobs, to help their children do school homework, and most frequently, to  read and write documents required to receive governmental support.

According to our statistical sample, in San José Corral Blanco, the majority of the population has either not concluded their primary education, or abandoned school while starting their secondary education. 43% of the interviewees declared not knowing how to read or write. Although their academic level is low, they possess an immense amount knowledge that we aim to expose, maximize, and learn from during our stay in San José Corral Blanco.


Evidently, our aim is to collect enough funds so that 30 volunteers can live and work during 7 weeks of summer in San José Corral Blanco. We held two garage sales, a Mexican themed dinner party, an art auction, an indoors cultural event, and several “scholarship” sales. We also arranged many monetary and in-kind donations. Regardless of the fact that we have received enough resources to start the campaign, the fundraising is still an ongoing process.

Part of the group during a lecture
Part of the group during a lecture
Experimenting in the creation of teaching material
Experimenting in the creation of teaching material
Introducing the first session
Introducing the first session

On January 24th, inside the Adeco facilities, the first meeting of the adult literacy campaign ¡Alfabetiza!, a project which has penetrated in over 50 rural communities since 1996, took place with 48 enthusiastic volunteers who started tracing the lines of work they shall follow throughout the upcoming months to achieve this year´s goals as a community development project.

Shortly afterwards, on Sunday, January 25th 2015 ,a small group of volunteers visited three localities to the North of the state of Puebla in which we are looking to implement the project this year. The purpose of this visit was to participate in community assemblies, in which the project was discussed with the population and feedback was given by the general public, expressing what they would like to learn, and by local literacy promoters, who shared some of their experiences with the rest of us.

During this process, we have received testimonies of some of the new volunteers, here's one:

“Throughout this initial project stage I have learned valuable things, like the cultural and political importance of the work done between participants and volunteers, “students” and “teachers”. I have also learned that we are going to work with the people, not for them; it will be an experience of mutual exchange and perpetual feedback. We will use a method created by Paulo Freire, since the techniques for adults differ greatly from those used with children. In this method, we work with “generating” words and we divide them into syllables. However, beforehand we construct a culture circle in which we chat and discuss about realistic situations derived from (or “generated by”) this word to get closer together as a group. Also, the way in which we weekly present and discuss news articles we consider relevant to education is interesting, since we are constantly developing our critical thinking.

This project excites me greatly: we must prepare physically, intellectually and spiritually to learn and teach everything we can. We want to share the utility in reading and writing, and all its dimensions. We must learn the method, get to know cultural aspects of the community we will go to while revisiting our own, do everything we can to raise funds, learn and reinforce certain rules of coexistence, have lots of patience, and learn from our errors… a huge challenge that will surely be worth it.”

Aitana, 18 years old.

The first approach to become a volunteer
The first approach to become a volunteer
Training and reflections
Training and reflections
The gate to the village
The gate to the village

After living a six-week long summer in San Martín Esperillas we began our yearly evaluation of the project. We deliberated about what we accomplished with the community, the results and the lessons learned, along with the educational processes that took place. After these sessions we concluded that 2014 was our last year of work with this community. This means that we are now perusing through communities in Mexico for the place where ¡Alfabetiza! 2015 will take place. As part of the permanent evolution of our program, we are also beginning to select and train the new team that will coordinate this next episode.

We would like to share the following statement from one of the adults that worked with ¡Alfabetiza! in San Martín:

Country People
By Baldomero F.

There are things a person does out of curiosity or occurrence, or for knowledge but the point is you do them without thought, I am one of them, me and my insanities, my occurrences there are things I did and they made me go many years back in time, those are things I can’t forget and that I never will because they were very special people in my life, even though for many they might have stopped existing, but for me they still exist.

For example all of the teachers that came to this community we will remember forever, they gave us motivation for a lot of things.

The story of my life to give my family a better life because they had what I didn’t have as a child, my steps took me to cross the border y and I accomplished crossing it, my objective was to have the resources to give them a home and I was able to achieve it, for now I live with my family, when I was away I spent my time thinking in them, thinking all the time, cheering myself up and being able to return and be with them, now I see a lot of people that don’t know the city and they come to ask how we could go so far when they don’t know the city, how few I learned and walked, they ask and I like to chat with them, yes, I like sharing, my adventures and my experiences, but in the end, it is a happy ending for my family, for now I feel very good with myself because all of the people who come to talk about a story or information for me and for everyone else they are important and they are welcome, they seem important to me, I am not important nor the best but I feel good and thanks to the group of teachers that came to my community and thanks to my teacher Sofía, I hope that the rest of the teachers were received the same way as us because they are important for my family.

Thank you teacher Sofía and the group of teacher companions for giving us a bit of your time and attention, we will wait for you every year.

Showing off proudly the work book
Showing off proudly the work book
One of the project evaluation sessions
One of the project evaluation sessions
Discovering the World in the class
Discovering the World in the class

The adult literacy campaign ¡Alfabetiza! finished its second year of work in San Martín Esperillas. It has been a successful project in which we have worked for 6 weeks alongside 131 adults in regular classes and with 34 children in a 15 session workshop.

While talking about the project, volunteers emphasize on the objective of sharing knowledge; the process of learning while teaching.

“What we constantly say is: I come to teach and learn, and we encourage the community to take it to heart, they did. They told us: hold the yoke, take the corn. It’s been a great challenge for all of us. My student Inés makes a lot of fun of me because I don´t know how to make tortillas, she says: “Yes, teacher, you know how to read but you can´t get married”. This is something that gives new value and shows other perspectives on everyday life”. (Laura, 20 years old)

“You realize you don’t just live in your small world, but that, at the same time, there are other realities out there that you take part in. You can’t sit down and stay with your arms crossed”. (Diana, 18 years old)

Trying to invite the people of San Martín to speak up and express their knowledge, experiences or issues in different ways, we also carried out a community photography project in which they documented their daily life by taking photographs with a camera we gave them. We also printed the first issue of a community newspaper: Tsjo Kjin (“Wildflower” in their mother tongue, nguigua). This newspaper was edited by a local editorial board and it compiled texts by our students sharing the most significant stories from their community.

Besides giving classes and documentary activities, there was an embroidery workshop, responding to our diagnosis, which showed the need of enabling collective spaces for women in San Martín. 18 women attended, ranging a wide span of ages. Each of them shared their own techniques with the rest working with collective material. At the end, they interchanged their products.

Finally, we began working with the young women of San Martín, debating different ways of thinking themselves as a collective while observing their community, with the intention of forming a group of young men and women who want to improve their environment considering their own context.

The group of volunteers initiated the process of internal evaluation of the project on Saturday, August 16th. Next year’s work (2015) will also be defined in the process. Soon we will post testimonies of our students in San Martin for you.


  • Number of adult students   •   131
  • Workshop for children attendants   •   34
  • Number of groups   •   56
  • Number of volunteer teachers   •   29
  • Average students per teacher   •   5.24
The team of volunteers
The team of volunteers
The "teacher" learns embroidery techniques
The "teacher" learns embroidery techniques
Community newspaper "Tsjo Kjin"
Community newspaper "Tsjo Kjin"
Children of San Martin in the workshop
Children of San Martin in the workshop

The adult literacy campaign ¡Alfabetiza! San Martín Esperillas 2014 has been working hard these past months with 9 training sessions for the new volunteers of the program. They have learned about Paulo Freire’s philosophy on pedagogy, the teaching methods involving the “generating word” and other topics linked to education and community participation that will be the base of their work during the summer in the Tlacotepec county in the state of Puebla. We also collaborated with a specialized linguist who gave us training on Ngigua (the local language), tools for working with foreign communities and rescuing languages from disappearing.

The last weekend of March we did our first reconnaissance and diagnostic trip to San Martín Esperillas to know how many people will be taking our classes this year and gather information relevant to the planning of our two-month-stay. This is the community we worked with last year but we need to update our information regularly for the program’s purposes.

We would like to finish this time with two testimonies from girls who went to San Martín Esperillas for the first time:

“Climbing a hill with my interviewing squad, sharing a little bit of our lives, knowing that we are finally united here, feeling the cold wind in my face, acknowledging and respecting each others’ space, knowing more about the lives of those who opened their homes’ and lives’ doors for us to peek and learn from them; I consider all this is a great gift. After hardly sleeping at all and the sun and sand in my eyes, I returned happy and motivated to my own home. With great energy to continue with the activities we need to accomplish before the summer and with the feeling of doing something different, planting seeds of hope.”


“I liked very much that the people were so kind when they received us in their homes. They stopped doing whatever it was that they were doing to give us a moment. I think that if people came to my house for an interview I would have said no, I would have said I was busy, while the people in San Martín would engage with us or ask us with genuine interest what we were doing there, sometimes they would even recognize us (as the adult literacy campaign ¡Alfabetiza! group)”



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Organization Information

Adeco Acciones para el Desarrollo Comunitario A.C.

Location: Mexico City, Distrito Federal - Mexico
Website: http:/​/​
Adeco Acciones para el Desarrollo Comunitario A.C.
Project Leader:
Daniel Adeco
Project Leader
Mexico, Distrito Federal Mexico

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