Safe and Reliable Post-Earthquake Education

by Amextra, Inc. Vetted since 2014
Kids in the 3-5 age group ready for the relay
Kids in the 3-5 age group ready for the relay

It has now been exactly 7 months and 7 days since the devastating earthquake in Mexico that affected Mexico City, the State of Mexico, Morelos, and Puebla. While the country has not forgotten the tragedy and especially not the lives lost, for many, daily life has returned to some level of normalcy.

In this first trimester of the year, the Community Center in Tultitlán has continued providing academic support to children and adults. 45 children and 8 adults so far, to be exact. The space continues to open its doors to any and all community members that have a desire to reach an academic goal, whether it´s getting help on a topic learned at school, studying for a GRE-type exam, or learning to use a computer and programs like Microsoft Office. Since the earthquake, we´ve noticed more families feeling comfortable with the Center and the staff. 

On April 21, 2018 we held our annual Mini-Olympics event, designed to provide a safe, fun, space for children who otherwise may not have many opportunities for sports or group activities. Around 120 children attended this activity, making it one of the biggest events to date. The attendance in this event shows us that the Community Center is becoming more known by the community and is a trusted space for community reunions. Without a doubt, there is a correlation between the increased attendance and the increased visibility the Center gained after the earthquake, when it was the only educational institution open immediately after the disaster.

In the next few months, we will continue working with the community through English classes, tutoring, reading groups, a summer course, backyard gardens and rain water filters. We are also very happy to welcome a new volunteer, Luis, who will be teaching computer workshops and tutoring children and youth in math at the Center on Saturday mornings.   Luis is finishing his B.A. in Accounting at the National Autonomous University of Mexico and has a great gift for teaching and an inspiring spirit of service.

Thank you for accompanying us on this journey of community building in Tultitlán, State of Mexico! We´re very excited for the months of growth ahead and hope you are, too.

Mini-Olympics obstacle course
Mini-Olympics obstacle course
Luis, far left, volunteering at the Mini-Olympics
Luis, far left, volunteering at the Mini-Olympics
Girls at the Award Ceremony
Girls at the Award Ceremony

Within hours of the September 19th, 2017 earthquake, reports of damages in nearby schools began to spread around the town, and the staff at the Amextra Community Center knew immediately that this would change the community in Tultitlán forever.  They heard reports of damaged stairways, collapsed walls, and fallen ceiling panels in schools. Repairing the damages to the buildings and the confidence of the parents and children was going to take a while.

In the days after the quake, staff members mobilized to reassure nervous parents that the Community Center would open its doors to any children needing to keep up with classes while schools remained closed.  They reassured parents that their children would be safe, and that all they could do was wait and keep their children busy and learning.  

Thankfully, by the end of November all the schools in the area were back in session. Children thanked the education promoters at Amextra for their extra help and were off to school. Now, children come to Amextra after school and on the weekends for tutoring, English classes, and computer help. They come to see familiar faces and to practice the parts of school they find the hardest.

Now, four months after the disaster, parents have processed their feelings and talk about how grateful they are that they children were able to continue studying at Amextra while there was so much uncertainly about the future of their schools. One parent, Obdulio, says he has seen a huge change in his son Miguel in the months he has been tutored at Amextra since the earthquake. ¨Before starting at Amextra my son knew practically nothing, he only knew how to write his first name but not his last names. In these three months I have seen so much progress in my son. He already knows the vowels and consonants, numbers, and colors¨. He says with a huge smile on his face that Miguel likes going to Amextra because the teachers explain well and are patient with him. Miguel tells his dad he´s not frustrated anymore and that he thinks learning is fun.

The reaction of Tultitlán to the disaster is exactly what Amextra is about. It´s about being there for the community by listening to their needs and adapting accordingly. Because of this experience, the Community Center is an even more trusted space in the community, one that people know will be there in good times and in bad.  In sickness and in health.  As the community progresses in this process of healing, Amextra staff will be there every step of the way, to bring unity in the community and encourage neighbors to work together. This year, we hope to expand the computer center as well as continue providing academic support Monday-Saturday to children from preschool to middle school. There´s still a long way to go to rebuild hope and provide education to all children in Tultitlán, but with support from you and people like you we are one step closer each day.

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Organization Information

Amextra, Inc.

Location: Palos Hills, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.amextra.org
Project Leader:
Marcela Salas Cassani
Palos Hills, IL United States

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