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.

here 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.


Anonymous said...

and i thought my classroom in chacala was in poor shape. at least it was indoors. that new classroom looks great.

you sound to be in high spirits. so glad to see that. i'm glad you have so many good friends who are helping you during this difficult time.

take care,

norm said...

A working church is a grand thing indeed, congrats on finding one to make your home.

Leah Flinn said...

It's amazing how much joy it gives us to meet the needs of others. It improve the recipient's life as well as the sincere giver. Thanks for posting.

Tancho said...

Pretty soon Steve you will have more reasons to stay down here than in Oregon....Can't wait until the scale tips all the way!

Steve Cotton said...

Teresa -- I am heading over to the dedication of the new school building this morning. I should stay in bed, but this is too important to miss.

Norm -- My church family has made Melaque a nice place to live. I just wish we could do something about the summer heat.

Leah -- Learning to turn loose of resources is one of the greatest lessons Jesus taught.

Tancho -- The scales tilted in favor of Mexico long ago. This trip north will be the completion of a final duty.

Irene said...

Education is so important. Thank you to you and your fellow church members for contributing to the improvement of opportunities for the children in your area.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for sharing with us the needs for those of the Villa Pinal.

But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him? 1 John 3:17

You and your group from the church at San Patrico by the Sea have shown that love.


Adrienne said...

And for those of us who are not in the communion of a church, it speaks to the power of the neighborhood.

Adrienne on E Street

Steve Cotton said...

Irene -- You are correct. Without a good education, these children will never be able to develop their individual talents. Maybe they can now.

Mom -- We are trying.

Adrienne -- You are correct. The fact that we come from the same strong neighborhood structure lets us know what people united can do. See you soon. With or without my jacket.