Thursday, March 25, 2010
back to school
Mexico is not a poor country.
Its gross national product places it as either the 13th or 14th wealthiest nation in the world. Above South Korea and Australia. Mexico easily falls within the category of middle income nation.
Central Americans sneak across Mexico's border to seek work. The greener pastures syndrome is not limited to Mexicans looking north.
But those numbers are a bit deceptive. What that gross national product figure is split over Mexico's large population, the per capita figure puts Mexico around 69. About the same as the average Russian or Pole.
There are poor people in Mexico. Lots of them. Some very poor. And where there is need you will find expatriate Canadians and Americans reaching for their wallets.
The church I attend is no exception. I started attending San Patricio by the Sea in 2007 on a house search trip to La Manzanilla. When I made the permanent move south last year, it became my church home.
San Patricio by the Sea is one of those bodies that takes Christ's commands to "love your neighbor" and "feed the hungry" very seriously.
The church's primary community service project this year was the construction of a new classroom for the primary school in Villa Pinal, a small village on a dirt road almost a mile from the main highway. It would not be an insult to refer to it as a poor farming community. Dirt poor.
Working one's way out of dirt poor is the same throughout the world. Skills like critical thinking, reading, writing, and ciphering must be acquired.
Villa Pinal's primary school was simply not equipped to provide its children the ladder to get out.
The school's sole classroom was a partially open air palapa with a barely functional blackboard and ramshackle desks. The size limited the number of children who could attend. Those who could not were forced to walk two miles to the nearest school -- along a dangerous highway. And because they were not there, increased funding went elsewhere, as well.
If you would like to see what the building looked like, you can see it at the San Patricio by the Sea site.
A local charity (Ayuda los Niños Costalegre) donated money to construct two classrooms. Our church donated money to construct a third -- which has just been completed. When I saw it earlier in the month, the finishing touches were being added. It will be officially accepted by the school on Thursday.
The miracle of all this is not merely that children will now be able to avoid the dangerous daily walk to the neighboring school. Though they will.
Nor that the students can now have a comfortable environment for their education. Though they will.
Nor that enough students may be attracted to the school that public funding will be increased. Though it probably will.
The true miracle is those who have been blessed with resources have shared much with those who have little.
I have personally been blessed with that same open-handed approach from my friends in the church.
Now we can pray that the children will use the gift as best they can to find a better future for themselves -- and for Villa Pinal.