Meet Diego

 

Diego looks like your typical young boy.

Diego is 11 years old and he needs your help!

You’d never know that he recently fled a dangerous political uprising that threatened his life.

Now his family struggles to put food on the table for Diego and his two small brothers.

I had the opportunity to meet Diego on a recent trip to Oaxaca, Mexico and life is really hard for them! 

Diego hopes you will help. Will you, please?

Diego left behind his indigenous and rural roots, trading them for a safer, but deserted place outside of Oaxaca City in the El Paraiso community.  Paraiso means “paradise” in English. Because it lines the city dump, rent is inexpensive and the poorest comb the dump for their livelihood.

This is Diego’s new home.

Even here, they are among the poorest! The family is often left without money for essentials like food even with their dad’s paycheck and mom’s faithful efforts combing the dump for recyclables. As a result, the boys don’t eat much:  coffee and bread in the morning, and on good days, the money stretches for dinner.

They need your help!

Diego’s dad is determined to build his family a home in El Paraiso. This would replace their makeshift home constructed of recycled materials. Could such a thing even be possible for Diego and his family?

Diego and his brothers at their job site

The school year had already begun, so Diego’s dad had his sons work alongside him at his new job as an abañil assistant (concrete block homebuilder). He didn’t have the money for school uniforms, supplies, or lunches anyway. Diego feared this was the  end of his schooling.

Then, one day at work they met a kind man named Bonifacio who works with the local schools.  He encouraged them to consider attending. After some convincing, Diego’s dad hesitantly enrolled his boys at Primaria Porfirio Diaz, a school you’ve been supporting for the past few years!

Every day Diego struggles to stay awake in class. It doesn’t help that he has no desk or chair to sit in unless another student is absent. Diego knows that an education will change his life forever.

His grumbly stomach is a constant reminder of this as he helps his father make concrete posts after school. As he works, Diego wonders if there will be dinner tonight. With your help, Diego can feel secure and hopeful again.

The Oaxaca Kids Can breakfast program at Diego’s school

The school’s Oaxaca Kids Can breakfast program is what keeps Diego going day after day, but unfortunately the teachers can’t keep up with the demand. Primaria Porfirio Diaz has been flooded with many others like Diego in search of a safe and secure life. That’s why Diego desperately needs your help today.

Your gift of $30 will provide Diego with the healthy breakfast and support he needs to pursue his education for an entire month!  This same support will be extended to nearly 140 of Diego’s classmates at Primaria Porfirio Diaz for an entire year with $50,000 raised by December 31st!

Despite numerous setbacks, Diego remains optimistic and gives his best effort even when it feels impossible. Your gift of $30 will give Diego the help he needs for  one month. Hunger and discouragement return. You can multiply your impact by supporting Diego and his fellow students.

This is your personal invitation to be part of Diego’s transformation story. It’s not  too late. How will you take part?

 

For the Kids,

John Kerr

Founder & Friend of the Kids

Give securely online:

http://friendsofpimpollo.org/donate

Team Member Spotlight: Mary Laughlin

Team 66
I’ve made about eight trips to Mexico now, including several to Oaxaca, but this was different and so enjoyable in quite a different way. Although I’ve visited FOP’s projects a couple of times before and taught English for several days in one of the schools, I enjoyed the opportunity to see the broad spectrum of FOP’s many different activities. Meeting with and having the chance to talk to students, parents, teachers and some of the former Pimpollo students was totally delightful and very informative.

-Mary Laughlin, Team 66

Oaxaca Kids Can – A Dream Bigger Than You Can Imagine

 
John Kerr with students 

If you were to ask Friends of Pimpollo founder, John Kerr, what his ambitions are with his “Oaxaca Kids Can” breakfast program, he would likely stop you right there and tell you that Oaxaca Kids Can (or OKC) is not a breakfast program. He would say this firmly, because it is an important distinction to be made within the organization he began 15 years ago.

Oaxaca Kids Can Students

OKC is, first and foremost, an education program. Breakfast just happens to be a key phase within the education program. Before anything else, prospective schools for OKC are evaluated based on several criteria in order to determine whether or not the program can be successful. The evaluation begins with school’s faculty—are they committed? Do the teachers truly care about teaching the students? Are they committed to helping them learn? If they are, FOP then looks to the community and the parents—are they similarly committed? Do they realize the opportunities that greater education provides for their children? Are they committed to fostering the intellectual growth of their own children as well as the children in their community? If all of these elements line up and the community fully supports the school and the faculty, then phase one can commence: daily breakfast.

This process first began in August of 2012, when OKC served their first breakfast to the students at Símbolos Patrios in Vicente Guerrero. At the time, about 78 students were coming to school every day, and thanks to a survey done by Sustainable Health Abroad, FOP discovered that 80% of those students were coming to school having either eaten nothing at all or only coffee and/or a tortilla. On a diet like that, developing children can hardly keep their eyes open long enough to be awake for lunch, much less be able to learn and retain knowledge throughout the course of a school day. But now, after implementing nutritious daily breakfasts, there are more than 140 children attending classes at Símbolos Patrios every day. On top of the increase in attendance, 75% percent of the students have raised their grades. Through the Oaxaca Kids Can program, Friends of Pimpollo is now providing a nutritional meal to more than 140 children at Símbolos Patrios, giving them the sustenance to not only stay awake throughout a full day of classes, but also providing them with the food necessary to foster learning and physical development.

However, what makes OKC more than just a breakfast program are the phases that follow after successfully implementing a daily breakfast program. Through OKC, Friends of Pimpollo has also built a computer center at Símbolos Patrios that opened in November 2014, exposing these children (and the entire community) to some of the wonders of technology, further expanding the reach of education for these students and giving teachers virtually unlimited resources for expanding curriculum to the children—and even the adults. There are now educational programs that reach from kindergarten education to adult education, effectively creating an entire community of educated individuals, from young to old.

New computer lab imagesThis program, as John will tell you, is based on the model of “Kenya Kids Can,” a program started by Steve Peifer and documented in his book A Dream So Big. Discovering Mr. Peifer’s work was an unforeseen consequence of boredom on John’s part. Having returned home from dinner and a movie with his wife, Karen, four years ago, John turned on the television hoping to find a basketball game. John proceeded to scan through the channels and serendipitously settled on a segment of “CNN Heroes” honoring Steve Peifer’s work with Kenya Kids Can. John immediately knew that he could take Peifer’s model (a proven success currently feeding and educating over 16,000 children in Kenya) and bring it to the extremely impoverished Vicente Guerrero community and its schools, which are situated around the perimeter of the Oaxaca municipal landfill.

That is where we are today, with ambitions to grow, much like Kenya Kids Can. We have identified and evaluated the next four OKC schools and are already providing breakfasts on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at the second school, Adolfo Lopez Mateos in Lomas de la Cuesta. Once we have the funding to proceed with daily meals, the next step for Lomas de la Cuesta is to construct their computer lab—the building site for that has already been determined. FollowingBreakfast at Símbolos Patrios that, OKC plans to also build and supply the community with a library—a phase that will be implemented into all of the OKC schools from hereon out.

After explaining all of this, John will then reiterate that this is not simply a breakfast program. Oaxaca Kids Can is actively changing lives. Vicente Guerrero is the poorest community in the Oaxaca City area, which is the largest city in one of the two poorest states in all of Mexico. Because of Oaxaca Kids Can, these children are not just getting breakfast five days a week—they and the entire community can pursue their dreams. So far, Friends of Pimpollo has helped the students of Símbolos Patrios to realize they now have an opportunity to succeed on a much greater scale. They are no longer a forgotten community, living among the landfill of Oaxaca City. They are learning. They are being educated. They have the opportunities they need to actively pursue their dreams.

Oaxaca Kids Can is not just a breakfast program; it is not even just an education program. Oaxaca Kids Can is a vehicle in which entire communities can realize and pursue their dreams. ■

By Ryan Bakken

OKC Students at Adolfo Lopez Mateos

Friends of Pimpollo on Facebook

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Friends of Pimpollo Newsletters

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FOP Newsletter November 2013 FOP Newsletter April 2014

Education effecting change in the world

At Friends of Pimpollo, our belief is that education is the key to effecting change in the world. Our work strives to promote opportunities through education in southern Mexico.

Reading

Gathering around a book at a Vicente Guerrero preschool

Students helping students

A big round of applause for the St. John the Apostle fourth grade class- their efforts and generosity will provide nearly 750 meals for students at Símbolos Patrios Elementary School in Vicente Guerrero, Oaxaca.

Thank you!!

SJA fourth grade

Music class at Libertad Primary School

Libertad Primary School in Vicente Guerrero now has a music class. Seen in this photo, the school band performed traditional Oaxacan music at a recent ceremony for adult education graduates.

 

Libertad

FOP debuts a new mission statement

Our mission, as a volunteer organization, is to develop and support education based projects and programs focused on poor children and their families of Mexican heritage. We are committed to providing unconditional love and support, improving their lives, and helping them move towards a better future and self-sufficiency through education. We will do this by creating a bridge that connects them with volunteers and donors who want the opportunity to contribute, grow and change.

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36 Vicente Guerrero adults complete primary and secondary school

November 13, 2013:

36 individuals completed their primary and secondary school education and received their official graduation certificates!

Adults living in the Vicente Guerrero community are able to attend INEA (National Institute for Adult Education) classes at the community center.

Adults involved in this program who have children of their own realize the benefits of education and keeping their kids in school. Many have children that are involved with Friends of Pimpollo projects!

Adult Education November 2013