Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Visiting Programs in Mexico

By Michelle Barte, interactive communications manager for CCF

This morning we started out early on our drive from Mexico City to the small town of Santa Maria Tetitla where CCF program Niños Unidos de Tetitla is located. I traveled with assistant Pilar Garcia and program coordinator Pedro Hernandez from Fondo para Niños de México. It was a very bumpy, yet interesting ride up into the more mountainous region two hours outside Mexico City.

Once we arrived, we were greeted by the friendly staff who showed me around the area. First I saw an early childhood development class with new mothers and their babies. The mothers worked with the babies and small exercise balls to increase movement, flexibility and coordination. The babies also played with toys and interacted with the other children, which is supposed to help the babies with healthy socialization. Lastly, soft classical music was played and the mothers massaged the babies to comfort them and promote good circulation. The mothers were taught valuable skills they could practice at home with their children.

As we walked out, some of the older children were gathered at tables outside under a tent with paper, colored pencils, scissors and glue. I discovered that the children were learning all about the environment, recycling and the value of taking care of our earth. I was very happy to know they were learning about such a critically important topic in today’s times.

Next, I saw the community garden. Both the adults and the children were taught the skills of gardening. The community garden was all organic and contained lettuce, zucchini and other vegetables.

The next stop was to watch a computer presentation put together by some of the children. The staff put out some coffee and cookies for us while we watched an amazing PowerPoint presentation about a park the children had planned. It was very well done and while it was in Spanish, the children and staff were very patient as I received translation for the various slides. I was impressed the children were learning about computers, which I knew would be a valuable skill for them and for their futures.

We then ventured to another area of the building to see the medical and dental facilities. I was told that a dentist and a doctor come periodically to see and treat patients. Though the equipment was old, it was comforting to know the children and community had access to medical care even in this remote area.

The group then sat down to a lunch of warm tortillas with ham and cheese. We topped it with a delicious and spicy avocado chili sauce. It was a great opportunity to get to know the staff. They got to practice some English with me and I practiced some of my Spanish.

After lunch, Pedro had a meeting with the staff so we had an opportunity to walk around the small town outside of the program area. We walked past a few corn farms and then down some of the streets that were dotted with colorful shops and small homes. I was able to take some amazing photographs of the area and its people.

Once we returned, we said our goodbyes to the staff and headed back on the bumpy road back to Mexico City. It was truly a memorable journey and a great experience to see CCF’s good work in action.

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