Marisol will soon be a college graduate!

Marisol

As a Business Management Engineering student at the Technological Institute in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, Marisol is finishing up her graduation requirements now. She is hoping to find a job before her graduation in early March. We know that all of her hard work and perseverance will pay off!

Marisol chose to pursue an education because she not only enjoys learning, but wants to help support her family. She comes from a very large, supportive family, who live in a small, primarily indigenous town in the mountains outside of Tuxtla.

Marisol says, “Thanks to all of you. It means so much to me that you are supporting me and helping me; without you, I would never be here. With your support, I have been able to continue studying, and now, I am able to be an example for my little brother and sister. Thank you.”

Cheli, an education scholarship student, graduates from law school!

Congratulations Cheli!!!

Cheli graduated in August from law school in Guadalajara.  John Kerr, Founder and President, attended her graduation. He is very proud of Cheli and will write about her achievements soon.

Meet: Carlos

Name: Carlos Leodan Roblero Cifuentes

Major: Sociology

Carlos is one of our Education Scholarship students who lives at the student house in San Cristobal. He decided to study sociology because he enjoys working and interacting with others.

Favorite FOP memory: Seeing Carlos with the other students of the San Cristobal house. He was so clearly their leader, their confidant, their friend. Whenever there was a task that needed to be done, from fixing a leaking pipe to weeding the garden, he was in the middle of it. He didnt hesitate, didnt complain, just took care of what needed to be done. The quiet sense of leadership and maturity he displayed were so impressive.

Hometown: Nuevo Laredo, Siltepec, Chiapas

Family: Parents, three brothers, one younger sister.

Carlos is the first person in his family to attend college. He is also one of the first from his community, because Siltepec is an isolated region and offers limited educational opportunities. Carlos accomplishment and desire to go to college have inspired others. Three other students in the FOP Education Scholarship program are from Carlos hometown, and they say that if Carlos hadnt encouraged them to go to school and be a part of the FOP program, they never would have made it this far. Some of his siblings also want to follow in his footsteps and get an education. The example that Carlos set has taught them to strive for success.

Graduation: July 2013

Career goal: Teacher

“I want to be a better person, to improve myself. I want to help my family once I’m finished. I want to do something with my life. When I have moments when I want to give up, I think about all the people who want to continue to study but can’t, the ones who would love to have the opportunity that I have, and this motivates me to keep going, to not give up. I’m lucky to have this chance.”

Hobbies: Listen to music, play soccer, to œcoexist. 

Carlos understands well the goals of Friends of Pimpollo. He understands the value of education and its ability to change lives, and he understands that it sometimes takes a helping hand to get that education. One of his goals is to provide a helping hand to others, even more than he already has. After graduation, he says, œI want to help ECOSER as much as I can so that other guys who don’t have these opportunities can keep studying just like I got to. 

“Without [your] help, I would probably be working wherever I could to support myself; I never could have gotten to the university. I couldn’t achieve my dreams.”

“Thank you so much to those who support us.”

Carlos and Lidia, another FOP student

Meet Tania: “I’ve had opportunities to grow”

Name: Tania Lucero Aguilar Torres

Graduation Date: December 2012

Major: Tourism Management

Growth…as a student:

Tania has always dreamed of being a chef; from work experience to high school classes, she was preparing for that path. Then she went to college and realized that gastronomy was only offered at expensive, private schools, which she couldn’t afford. She changed to a major in tourism, and hated it. “In the beginning, tourism was a very difficut major for me. I decided I couldn’t let that continue so I tried to find reasons to like studying tourism. I realized that I like talking to people, I like languages, I like reading, and all of these things help in the tourism industry.”

Future career goal: To start her own business. With the help of a program at her school, Tania has been working with the business owners in the Centro (the downtown area where most tourists come) to maximize their businesses and create a Center for Community Tourism, where people work together to sell more instead of always competing and hurting the overall quality of the area. When she graduates, she wants to turn this project into a real business.

“I’m really excited about it, which is a big change from how I felt when I started studying tourism. Now I’m enjoying my studies and I’m using them to do something practical, which is teaching me even more.”

Favorite FOP memory of Tania: Having breakfast together, and watching Tania’s interest in the chefs, the layout of the buffet, the waiters, the flow of the restaurant. Commenting on her fascination, and watching her give a slight shrug and say “It’s what I do.”

Hometown: Salina Cruz, Oaxaca

Family: Mom, Dad, two older sisters, two older brothers, two younger brothers

Growth…in relationships:

Tania grew up in a very strict family, where her parents worked long hours to support their children and her older siblings became her parents. Her dad was very strict; “No boyfriends, no friends, no going out, no certain foods. Just school, school, school.”

She worked at Pimpollo for a year after high school, and when she first started, she was very angry with her family for never being home. “I thought they didn’t care about me. I didn’t realize that they had to work to support me, and it wasn’t until I was at Pimpollo  that I started to learn to forgive them. If I hadn’t joined this program, I wouldn’t have learned the meaning of family.”

Growth…as a person:

“In ECOSER, I have an opportunity to grow. It’s having people in my life who care for me, who accepted me from the beginning and love me…It is making me a better person, teaching me to work with others, to share, to have a life that is more spiritual and more socially aware…ECOSER wants to teach us to be leaders who can help make a better world, and the support from FOP helps us do this.”

“Friends of Pimpollo has given me this opportunity, and I’m so thankful for it.”

Rosalba Studies for an Exam

This is Rosalba, a second-year civil engineering student who grew up in Vicente Guerrero. She is the first child in her family to get an education, and now, her hard work and determination  are setting an example for her younger sister and community. “I am proud of Rosalba,” says her mother, Regina, “that she thinks about her future and has the opportunity to do better.” With Friends of Pimpollo’s support, Rosalba will be able to graduate and become a civil engineer. “I dont just want to do this for me, to earn money,” she says. “I want to help others, my family and our community to move forward.”

Meet: Marisol


Let me to introduce you to Marisol, a truly incredible college student who has overcome so much in order to persevere with her studies. She is our highlighted student for the month of April, and I think you’ll agree that she certainly deserves to be recognized.

Name: Marí­a Hernandez Rui­z (Marisol)

Major: Engineering and entrepreneurship (business management)

Family: Marisol has twelve brothers and sisters, including a little sister and a little brother with disabilities. Her family lives in a tiny indigenous town called Chuchilton Municipio de Bochil, up in the mountains. The people of the community wear indigenous dress and barely make enough money to sustain themselves. There aren’t any schools, so Marisol had to leave home at the age of twelve to attend boarding school.

“When I graduated from high school with the nuns,” she says. “I had to find a place to work, because I didn’t have any support from my parents…When I decided to go to college, they didn’t like the idea. It scared them, and they were afraid I wouldn’t succeed….it made sense that they were afraid of the university because it was expensive and I might not pass.

They have recently started to accept it, and now my dad supports me.

If I hadn’t joined ECOSER [Friends of Pimpollo’s College Scholarship Program], I’d probably still be in my little town. I might be married right now; a lot of people get married early because their parents make them. I’d probably have a family or be working, but I definitely wouldn’t be studying right now.”

Graduation: March 2013

Goal after graduation: Start her own business using the groundwork she has laid with her senior class project. Her project/business makes a product from banana nectar that has never been sold before. She is learning about all levels of the business- production, marketing, sales, etc. She hopes to turn it into a real business and call it Delicias Platanin.

Hobbies: Listening to music, singing, drawing.

Favorite FOP memory: Driving for hours and hours on bumpy roads to reach the home of Marisol’s family. Seeing how excited Marisol was to be spending time with them, even though we only stayed for about three hours. Seeing how much they loved having her home, how much love they all had for one another. Having dinner with them, and eating an entire meal of home-grown food: turkey soup, avocados, even coffee beans. The only exception? The giant bottle of Orange Fanta soda we all enjoyed.

If Marisol could say anything to our donors and to everyone who supports Friends of Pimpollo, she would say: “Thanks to all of you. It means so much to me that you are supporting me and helping me; without you, I would never be here. This is such an amazing program, and every day, I thank God for all of you. With your support, I have been able to continue studying, and now, I am able to be an example for my little brother and sister. Thank you.”

Looking Back- Mago’s Graduation

It’s official. She’s a college graduate. And now that her thesis is finished and the ceremony ended, here are some photos of Mago at her graduation and her thoughts about this accomplishment.

The graduate with her diploma, at long last!

“I’m really glad that I’ve finished this important period of my life. Without all of the marvelous people who have helped me, this wouldn’t have been possible. My graduation was a very pleasing and special day for me, because I was with the people who have been very special throughout this wonderful journey: Father Francisco Herrera [the priest who founded Pimpollo Children’s Home], Sei±ora Josi© [Flaviano and Lidia’s mother, who works at Pimpollo] and little Luis Carlos; my mother, Mr. Felix and Mrs. Consuelo [the program directors of ECOSER], Jorge [another FOP employee who helps with several programs], and all of the ECOSER members.

Padre Pancho, Tanya, Luis Carlos, Mago, Doi±a Josi©, Chelo, Mago's mother, and Felix

I also know that two angels in the sky shared this joyful day with me, Madre Estela [the house mother from Pimpollo who passed away two years ago] and my father. Thank you to all of the Friends of Pimpollo; without your help, this wouldn’t have been possible.

Mago and her mom.

On this special day, all of you were in my heart, celebrating this great achievement with me. THANK YOU!”

Meet: Horbeli

This month, our profiled student from Education Scholarship is:

Horbeli­ Lopez Domi­nguez

Year in school: sophomore

Major: Education

Why? He likes to share his knowledge with others, and he likes interacting with youth and kids. He also hopes this major will help him to be independent.

Family: He grew up in a small town with his parents, sister, and two brothers. His parents are farm workers, and his older brother and his sister have followed in their footsteps. Horbeli­ was the first in the family to decide to stay in school, which wasn’t easy. His hometown only has an elementary school, so he moved away from his family when he was thirteen to go to middle school. Back then, he could go home on weekends, but now, he finds it much harder to stay in touch. He lives six hours from home, and to even talk on the phone with his parents requires them to travel to a different community to have access to a telephone. Horbeli­ says it is hard, but “I have adjusted. And I love going home and seeing my family (during holidays).”

Hometown: San Josi© de la Revancha, Las Margaritas, Chiapas

Favorite FOP memory of Horbeli­: Team 50 was singing the name song to all of the ECOSER students (Blanca Blanca, bo-blanca, banana-fana-fo-fanca, fee-fi-mo-manca, Blanca!), but Horbeli­’s name had too many syllables. So one of the team members offered an alternative: the chorus of “The Happy Wanderer.” We rode all the way through San Cristobal in the back of the truck, singing at the top of our lungs, “Hor-beli­, Hor-bela, Hor-beli­, Hor-bela-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha.” It took a few rounds, but Horbeli­ decided he liked it and joined in too!

Hobbies: Play board games. Wander the city center. Dance. Have good discussions. “Lately, I’ve been reading more, because I think it’s a good habit to develop.”

Goal after graduation: “I’d like to start working as a teacher in a middle school…I might have to teach in Tuxtla, but I’d like to get a job near my family’s community. If we could have a school there, that would be wonderful. I’ve been helping with a project there to get more kids in school, those who can’t afford it. I want the community to take education seriously, to take the teachers seriously. I’d also like to see a project to help the adults in the community learn to read and write. This is a project that I’ve been working on at home during vacations, and it is starting to make progress. Right now, they are beginning to build a school. I think I can be very helpful there, because I have ties with the youth and I’m involved in church.”

Challenge Horbeli­ has faced: His family has had multiple medical issues that have sometimes made it difficult for him to attend school. His mother has been very ill for the last year or so, which has put a strain on the family’s finances and emotions. In addition, both Horbeli­ and his younger brother have eye trouble: “I can’t recognize anyone who is more than a certain distance away. My vision is fine- it doesn’t affect landscapes or buildings. It’s just seeing people, which makes it hard to travel or take buses or things like that. The sun really affects me too. When I was in middle school and high school, teachers had to write with black or red, because I can’t see blue or other certain colors. I think it was a little annoying for them.” Doctors haven’t been able to diagnose Horbeli­, and although they have tried to ease the problem with glasses, the prescription isn’t very useful and the glasses often hurt him.

Horbeli­’s eye problems and his mother’s illness have been difficult for their family, so Horbeli­ says he is lucky to be a part of ECOSER. He is determined to repay his family and the ECOSER program by working hard and serving others. He stays very busy, usually attending classes and observation periods in local schools from 7 am to 6 pm. Chores and homework fill his evenings, and that doesn’t even include the extra English classes he’s taking, the business he and his housemates run, or the service projects he participates in.

Horbeli­ is an impressive young man, and we are very proud to have him as a part of our ECOSER program. When I interviewed him last fall, I asked him what FOP support has meant to him, and he said:

“Without your help, this program wouldn’t exist. We all want to succeed, but without that support, we couldn’t do so. I just want to say thanks to all of you and to everyone at FOP.”

Our college student sponsors are an important part of Friends of Pimpollo, and we are truly thankful to have all of you. If you are interested in sponsoring Horbeli­ or any other child or student, please contact us through our website or by emailing info@friendsofpimpollo.org. Your donations will make a difference in the life of a student, just as they have for Horbeli­.

Mago’s Graduation: It’s Finally Here!

This isn’t the first time we’ve written about Mago (Margarita), the education student who has so easily won our hearts. Ever since we first met her, back when she was volunteering at Pimpollo, we have enjoyed spending time with her, rooting for her, admiring her photos on Facebook, seeing her beautiful smile and hearing her joyful laugh. When Team 50 went to Tuxtla last November, we threw a graduation party for Mago so we could celebrate with her. Since then, she has been working hard to finish her thesis and her classes. Now, four months later, she’s finally there.

Our beloved Mago graduates this week!

Mago (right) with fellow student Lula

Mago sent a note about her upcoming graduation, and her words say it far better than I could:
“I want to share with you my greatest achievement. This Thursday will be my graduation, which my mom will be attending. I am really happy and proud of myself. You know that my mom has worked really hard to give me an education- she is an incredible woman. Ever since my dad passed away, she has been the pillar of strength in our house, allowing my four siblings and I to keep moving forward. I adore my mother, and I know how happy she will be to see her dreams come true, to realize that her efforts were not in vain.

Thank you for the help that you guys have given me; without you, I couldn’t have made it this far. I love you so much. God bless you and everyone who supports this program… I would love it if you were here with me, at my graduation, but I know that it’s a difficult journey for you guys. I want you to know that even if you aren’t here in person, you will be on our minds and in our hearts.”

Mago, we love you and we are so proud of you. Way to go, girl!

Meet: Blanca!

At Friends of Pimpollo, we believe that education is the key to breaking the cycle of poverty.

While this statement is true and while it reflects the basic philosophy of all our programs, it leaves out so much. It doesn’t tell you about the college students in Tuxtla and San Cristobal, who live in houses with six or seven students and no running water, who say that pizza is their favorite food and estimate that they can afford to eat it maybe once every two months, who have “House Rules” handwritten on a poster in the living room and follow the rules to the letter, who are the most responsible young people we’ve ever met.

We believe in the power of education, but our students are the ones who live that belief.

Starting this month, we will be introducing you to our college students, one by one. The first blog post of every month will be a biography of one of our Education Scholarship students. Today, we begin with:

Name: Blanca Lili­ Garci­a Pi©rez

Year in School: 12th grade

Will graduate: 2017

Major: Nursing

Why? She likes to help people, and she thinks it is interesting.

Favorite FOP Memory of Blanca: When we were sitting around the dinner table at Mago’s graduation party in San Cristobal, and John Kerr (founder of Friends of Pimpollo) tried to stand up but accidentally tipped his chair over. Blanca was by his side before the rest of us could even react. She helped him up, righted his chair, and stayed at his elbow for the rest of the night. She will clearly make a wonderful nurse!

Extracurricular Activities: English class

Hometown: San Antonio, Siltepec.

Family: Mom and Dad, who still live and work on a farm in Siltepec. Two sisters, Nancy and Iris, who are also in the Education Scholarship Program.

Favorite FOP Memory of Blanca: Going to church in San Cristobal. The church was very full, so we stood against the wall and watched an old man walk around among the parishioners and beg. Most people ignored him; Blanca and her sisters pulled coins out of their pockets and put them in the old man’s hand. Later, we went to a market so the FOP team members could buy souvenirs. Blanca saw a shirt that she liked, but she decided that she didn’t want to buy it because she had more important things to spend her money on.

Hobbies: Listen to music, read, and chat with friends.

Career goal: To return to Siltepec and work as a nurse, providing medical care to a community that currently has none. To support the ECOSER program [the Education Scholarship program for students in Tuxlta and San Cristobal] and give other students the same opportunities she has had.

Final words from Blanca: “ECOSER is my second family. I am here because I want to improve myself and do something with my life, so I can support my family and serve others without receiving anything in exchange. For everything you’ve done for me, thank you and may God always bless you.”

Blanca is a wonderful student and person, and we are very proud of her. To see photos, videos, and more information about Blanca and the ECOSER program, please visit our website www.friendsofpimpollo.org or find us on Facebook.