Fundacion Cielo has been working with the generous collaboration of the Municipalities of Teabo and Chumayel in the last few years. They have shared with us their facilities such as auditorium, classrooms, library, sporting facilities, etc. However, it's been a long standing dream to have our own facilities in the Municipality of Teabo. The Fundacion Cielo has received approval from the community to build a Community Center at the old water tank or Algibe. The water tank as been abandoned for over 40 years. We are excited to be working with renowned architect Seijo Peon, specializing in sustainability and finding new uses for existing structures. His firm has worked pro bono designing and elaborating the plans for the reuse of the water tank into a Community Center. See presentation.
For the last few years we've been working on raising funds to begin the construction of Fundacion Cielo's Community Center. We have received the generous support of Javier Ortiz de Artinano Goni, a Spanish national with a generous heart and a desire to help those in need and Mark Rueff, a US citizen with deep love for the Yucatan and their people. Thus far, we've raised US$12,000. We still need to raise an additional $50,000 to complete the first stage of our goal.
In the summers our interns have been running Children's Activities in the plazas of the towns Chumayel and Teabo. The purpose of the activities is to provide an educational experience in a fun environment. Many children stop attending school after elementary school because their families cannot afford the books, uniforms and transportation that they need. The children that are fortunate enough to continue to attend school are usually not provided with a quality education. Most of the schools in the communities we work in are overcrowded and have a severe lack of resources. Many times even if families can afford to send their children to University, their children cannot pass the entrance exams. During our Children's Activities we teach a variety of subjects. The children have the opportunity to practice their math, creative writing, and art skills as well as learn about the environment, health and community resources. We also play sports such as basketball, soccer, baseball, and field games. Our hope is that these activities provide a helpful supplement to the children's school studies and encourage them to continue their education.
This year, we initiated a new art program for the children. We were lucky enough to partner with the wonderful Mexican artist, Patricia Loret de Mola. With a substantial history of working within different schools and communities, Patricia wants to share the importance of cultural support. Over 130 kids attended her workshop over the course of two days. By only using white paint and a color of their choice, the children learned how to make different shades while painting flower, animal, or something of cultural significance. Although the workshop is over, our work with this artistic movement is not! All of the paintings have been collected and are being made into a quilt that will be hung in the town center. Thank you so much Patricia!
Another component of our educational program is the Mentorship program. This project pairs high school students with nearby University students in order to provide support to those interested in continuing their education. Our model replicates a Speed-dating dynamic, whereby we sit on one row High School Students and University Students on the row across. We instruct them first on general questions and invite both sides to also generate their own questions for their counterpart. We allow a 5min chat between the two parties before the Hight School students move to their next mentor. We've received incredible feedback on this activity from both sides. We develop leadership skills on the still young University Students and generate a lot of interest from the High School students into pursuing an undergrad degree. By the end of the one week program, the students identify which Universities they are interested in attending, what resources they need in order to continue their education, and how they will attain those resources. Our Summer interns run the long week of programs in the community. Activities include a College Fair where all the neighboring public and private universities come to present their programs, facilities and financial aid services. We collaborate with Universidad Privada de la Península, Centro Educativo Rodríguez Tamayo, UT Regional del Sur, and Instituto Tecnológico Superior del Sur del Estado de Yucatán (ITSSY). In addition, in 2015, we selected the top graduates from the local High School and helped two of them secure scholarships to continue their undergrad education.
Click here to meet the top graduates from the local high school and the work we are doing with them to advance their education!
During our summer internship program we organize a Health Fair. We invite several groups including Centro Nueva Vida (Addiction Center), Sin Piojitos (Without Lice), The Yucatan Bureau of the Mexican National Association of Dentistry, the local Zumba instructor, and others to participate in different activities throughout the week. Centro Nueva Vida presents on overcoming addiction and handed out pamphlets. Sin Piojitos provides delousing services for kids in the community. The Yucatan Bureau of the Mexican National Association of Dentistry donates toothbrushes, toothpaste and provides training. The local Zumba instructor organizes public classes in the main Plaza! We also partner with the local government on the Baxaal Paal, or children games.
Lastly, we organize community meetings regularly to foster community leadership. During the community meetings we participate with the local government in organizing community members into several committees: Sports, Health, Education, Culture, and Community Maintenance. Each committee is led by a previously elected government leader. This allows the community to continue functioning with their original structure. This system also encourages community members to be more involved and therefore able to hold their public officials accountable. Committees are responsible for choosing a community problem they want to address and then find funding to support the project. By not using federal funding or funding from NGOs the community becomes financially independent. Our hope is that committees will be able to fund all of their projects through community fundraisers. Look out for updates in our newsletter about Chumayel's and Teabo's progress.
PartnershipS With OTHER NON-PROFITS
In 2014, we identified a high level of teen pregnancies in high school girls. It was decided that through sexual education, we could empower these ladies and promote school attendance and increase the rate of graduating students. (Which is currently at 14-16%).
Thus in 2015, we partnered with British Non-Profit Marie Stopes, to empower women in the Yucatan Region. We worked alongside professionals Barbara Perez and Diana Ballinas to give sexual education workshops to the high school students of COBAY and women empowerment workshops for local community leaders. We hope the training of local professors will allow us to give continuity to these programs in the community.
We also held training workshops for 30 midwives from many villages around the Yucatan. Midwives attend an average of 6 births a year. In Mexico, 50% of maternal deaths in rural zones are the result of obstetric emergencies. Hospitals that can provide appropriate care are too far away. This is why the service provided by these rural midwives is indispensable.
We are partnering with non-profit Mexico Vivo which also has a focus on sexual education. We hope to continue our efforts of educating the community on how to prevent unwanted pregnancies and STDs, throughout the year. See Video Below.
Fundacion Legorreta-Hernandez, is a key parter during our Mentorship week providing training to aspiring scholarship candidates. They also bring along role models and success stories that are a great motivation to our high school students. Lastly, based on our joint collaboration, Fundacion Legorreta-Hernandez is currently sponsoring, with full tuition and living expenses, 2 of Fundacion Cielo's mentees class of 2015.
Lastly, we would like to welcome Amigos de Las Americas to the Fundación Cielo family. Currently, they have groups stationed in 9 Latin American countries. This year, they have placed groups of students in Teabo and Chumayel. With similar objectives as ours, we hope that this partnership and working together will bring more success to the communities.
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