The school we visited yesterday, “Benito Juarez”, had a great deal of need for repairs and equipment just to ensure that the school children have the basics of clean water, etc. We distributed nearly 90 backpacks filled with useful school supplies and warm clothing.
Before we could do the grown-up Rotary stuff, the kids put on a performance for us. Under the beautiful Mexican sunshine, we enjoyed traditional songs and dances by kids from 3 1/2 years to 6 years old. It was entertaining and very well done. Their costumes were creative and the kids loved putting on the show. They had even learned to say ‘thank you” in English.
The principle showed us the needs on the property; the classrooms that don’t function well, the merger resources, and an unsanitary water supply. The teachers are dedicated and professional, but have so little to work with. It is a sharp contrast to the wealth of materials we enjoy in our schools in Ontario. We see evidence of this harsh environment in every moment throughout our day. This school is just one of many that are crying out for help in educating their children towards a better life.
This morning, Thursday, we went to visit a centre that addresses the needs of children with multiple challenges; immobility for a variety of reasons, deafness, blindness, autism, and many other disorders. The centre has three teachers who work in such primitive conditions it is heartbreaking. They use hands-on therapy like massage in the case of children who cannot see or hear, and other methods to the extent of the facilities or equipment that is available. I cannot emphasise enough how little they have to work with, and we fought back tears as we saw and heard about their dedication and caring under such great difficulty.
Our next stop was a similar centre but for older children. Here the teens learn some basic skills in carpentry, iron work, sewing and cooking. They were well supervised and cared for, and we left some backpacks for them also. They lack transportation to move the students around, and because none of them can move around the community independently, the transportation is an issue.
There are so many encounters with these gracious people, as we stop and observe their needs and use the gifts of knapsacks as an opportunity to find out how to help in a longer-term way. Our trip is drawing to a close and it is important to do our information gathering and make decisions about what the team can or cannot do this time around. There is always tomorrow, and next year, and there will always be many needs with which Rotary can help.