CFACT team revisits Valle Verde, Mexico

CFACT Director of Policy Research Duggan Flanakin recently lead a five-person team on a journey through Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula.   The first stop along the way was the City of Joy Foundation (Fundacion Ciudad de la Alegria) and the nearby impoverished village of Valle Verde, which lies on the outskirts of wealthy Cancun.

In both locations the team met up with old friends and made new ones as they reported on the benefits of the laptop computers and solar panels that previous CFACT teams had brought to the area.

CFACT photographer Sarah Cowles and volunteer Jason Lively visit with a technician using one of the CFACT-donated laptops at Colegio Mario Amiga, as Duggan Flanakin and Colegio fundraising coordinator Vivian Rodriguez visit with one of the school's teachers. [Photo by Scott Evans Andrews.]

CFACT photographer Sarah Cowles and volunteer Jason Lively visit with a technician using one of the CFACT-donated laptops at Colegio Mario Amiga, as Duggan Flanakin and Colegio fundraising coordinator Vivian Rodriguez visit with one of the school’s teachers. [Photo by Scott Evans Andrews.]

Back in January, a CFACT team from the University of Texas delivered laptops to Colegio Mario Amiga, the brand-new K-12 school on the City of Joy grounds whose 1,015 students all come from villages like Valle Verde and whose families cannot afford to pay expensive tuition and uniforms that a Mexican education requires.   These computers are now being used both by students and faculty and staff as they file their annual reports and do other office work.

Colegio fundraising coordinator Vivian Rodriguez took the CFACT team on a tour of the school. Sra. Rodriguez explained that the Colegio will be able to serve twice as many children (on half-day programs) once they get enough sponsors to pay the operating costs (about $20/day for each classroom of thirty students).

According to our hosts, CFACT’s efforts have been of immense help and a great encouragement to the poor of Mexico.   CFACT’s laptop recycling program has helped poor Mexican children escape the poverty cycle by gaining both an education for themselves and a broad-based support system for their families, who do volunteer work at the school (painting classrooms in summer, keeping the grounds year-round, and more) and are encouraged to better their own education by learning computer skills with their children.

As the team moved from the City of Joy to the village of Valle Verde, Flanakin recalled being part of the CFACT eco-summit in August 2009, when 25 college students from across the USA got an eye-opening education into the poverty that lies just miles away from Cancun’s world-famous hotel district.  That CFACT team provided the small school (operated by Abelia Lopez at her modest home in Valle Verde) with a laptop computer and solar panels to provide electricity when the cost of city power is too high or (as often happens) is not available at all.

CFACT volunteer Jason Lively translates and Sarah Cowles shoots video as Abelia Lopez, shown with one of her three sons, expresses her appreciation to CFACT on behalf of the 40 students at her tiny school in Valle Verde.  [Photo by Scott Evans Andrews.]

CFACT volunteer Jason Lively translates and Sarah Cowles shoots video as Abelia Lopez, shown with one of her three sons, expresses her appreciation to CFACT on behalf of the 40 students at her tiny school in Valle Verde. [Photo by Scott Evans Andrews.]

Sra. Lopez, who also works at the City of Joy, started the school on “faith” because she saw the need for her sons and their neighbors to get an education because their families lacked the funds to pay for the tuition,  books and uniforms the local public schools require.  Last year, Sra. Gomez and other parents provided lunch for the entire CFACT team to express their gratitude for our modest computer donation to the school, as well as the fact that the CFACT team also helped pick up recyclables (bottles, cans) that the school can trade for clothing for their students.

On this fact-finding journey, she was again effusive in her thanks for the help and the encouragement she and the students and families draw from knowing they mattered to us.  We noted well the dozens of large bags of recyclables the students had gathered up to improve the environment and make their own lives better.  Sra. Lopez said the school needs furniture and educational materials for an expansion of its library, which is located inside makeshift classrooms with leaky roofs.

CFACT is proud that we have made a small contribution to help her dream come true—and prouder that this woman is living proof that even the poorest among us have great potential to serve humanity well.

From this modest home, Sra. Abelia Gomez dreamed big - to create a school for her children and their neighbors.

From this modest home, Sra. Abelia Gomez dreamed big – to create a school for her children and their neighbors.

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