Lucy – Great Changes
This last bimester, the two month Mexican grading period, Lucy Ramirez, 13, brought home her report card with an 8.5 grade point average. This is comparable to a B in our system; here a 10 is a perfect grade and a 5 is a failing grade. Lucy, who has been at Casa Isabel for almost two years, entered middle school with a 6.9 average from grade school, finished last year with a 7.2 average and began the year with the same. She generally had 6’s and 7’s on her report card and this report card she had one 6, no sevens, the rest were 8’s, 9’s and a 10, perfect score, in math. We are so proud of Lucy here at Casa Isabel! When she arrived in August 2006, she was a shy girl and did not speak out in class. The teachers called me in several times because Lucy did not have the proper materials. The reason behind this lack of materials was that she was too nervous to ask me to buy them for her. Over the year and a half here at Casa Isabel she has become an outspoken young teen, she participates in all of our spiritual development classes, volunteers for many activities and in general is a joyous, vivacious person. I would not have imagined it when she first arrived. It has been so wonderful to see this girl growing into a woman and discovering her gifts, talents and dreams. I am ever grateful to all of our supporters for helping me work with these young women as we help them walk a new and different path that was not available to their sisters and mothers.
Looking for Sponsors
At this time Casa Isabel is supporting three students, and a mother and her small child. This mother and her child are hoping to have sufficient funds to move out this year and live on their own; of course, we will continue with mutual moral support and a family-like relationship, but this move for them means that we can open up three new spots for students in the coming year.
With the help of our United States partner, Center for Sharing in Pasco, Washington, we are purchasing a property, which will allow us to grow even more. Having more students means that we need more funding and we are looking for sponsors to help support these wonderful young women in the continuation of their education. It costs about $l50 dollars per month to provide a student with housing, food, transportation and education costs. The Mexican government has a program called Opportunities which gives grants to students -- $50 every two months for middle school students and $100 every two months for high school students. Since the families of our students are very poor, we ask them to cover only transportation costs if the students want to go home on vacations. Individual regular sponsorship is the best way to cover the other $100 a month for the students. Please consider becoming a sponsor for one of these deserving young women. Donations can be made through Center for Sharing, as these donations may be made with the benefit of a tax deduction.
We have many projects beginning to take shape for this year. It is an exciting year of growth and advancement. Casa Isabel will continue to flourish and grow with your generous support.
Cinco de Mayo Street
As we approach Cinco de Mayo this year it is of special significance to us as it is the name of the street on which we have purchased a new property for the program. We have been renting for a long time here in Espinal and it will be nice to have our own property. It is a beautiful property, with two enormous mahogany trees and two mango trees and a small house. The house is a warehouse style that is large and open; we will have to knock out some more windows, divide the space and install a kitchen. That will take some fundraising and I am working on getting a budget for the work. In the meantime we are cleaning up the property and making plans. This morning I went out with a neighbor to talk about composting the many leaves on the property and starting a vegetable and herb garden. Right now the soil is not great for planting, but the property has been abandoned for a long time and we have piles and piles of leaves to compost.
The chair of our board of directors, Dr. Jorge Lopez Lopez, had a new and interesting idea for fund raising locally for the two Centro de Compartimiento (CDC) programs. Casa Isabel is the program that supports middle and high school students and we also have Casa Angeles, which gives support to university level students. Dr. Jorge decided to fund a community radio station to raise money for the program. The hope is to rent out airtime to local community groups for their programs and have sponsors for CDC airtime. We hope to find local merchants with in-kind or monetary donations, and then help them in return by acknowledging their support on the radio. It will take a while for this project to produce funds, but in the meantime Jorge is giving airtime to aspiring young DJ’s and CDC has two weekly programs. The first is a bible study program. Each Thursday evening a local church comes to Casa Angeles in Juchitan and we have a bible study course. It is fairly basic, with themes such as “What does the bible say about…. Love… the Poor…Worry…temptation”. All the young women in both programs participate in the study and then two will talk about the theme the next evening on air. Then on Saturdays, Casa Isabel and Casa Angeles have an hour-long program that talks about CDC’s projects and values, and raises awareness about different issues facing young people today. At the moment the two directors of the houses, Rosy Garcia and myself, write and are the talent for the weekly program, but it is our hope that over time the young women in the program will participate more. This has been quite a challenge for me personally as I do not enjoy public speaking and have no experience with talk radio, other than being a listener of public radio. Every week I push down the fear and go on air, and encourage the interns to do the same. Pushing your boundaries and doing something different is supposed to be good for you. I hope it is. Maybe one day it will even be fun.
God bless you all, and thank you for all of your generous support.