Thanks to your support we were able to contribute to the construction of a new dormitory for the girls at Casa Santa Maria. CSM is home during the school year to students from poor rural families who need to live in Yajalon in order to attend public secondary school and university. The dormitory is now under final construction and will be ready for the 2015/2016 school year. The girls will finally be able to move out of the dilapidated front portion.
The government has recently built a hospital in front of Casa Santa Maria. The emerging plan is to now create a source of income for the home by moderately restoring and turning the front portion into an internet cafe and inexpensive restaurant for hospital staff and patients. Working hours due by students and families in exchange for food, lodging, uniforms and other help they receive, could be used to run the enterprise.
We have had a long time relationship with Yashalum, a grassroots association founded by the first group of young Mayan university graduates who were able to study thanks to the support of Mission Teaching Foundation. Yashalum has grown to house over 150 students in its Yajalon hostels for boys and for girls. They also engage the community in a myriad of projects such as better agricultural techniques , compost, dry latrines and vented stoves. They are also providers of support to all who come for advice. When the indigenous midwives came, lamenting the excessive amount of childbirth deaths and wanting to receive better training, we responded to Yashalum’s request for aid by connecting them with Global Pediatric Alliance who began training classes for the midwives. The program that started with a dozen semi-reluctant midwives grew to training them by the hundred. So extensive and good was the training that the midwives formed an association that has gained status not only in the community but also among those in the medical profession. But their greatest satisfaction comes from the results: a significant reduction of deaths during childbirth thanks to their ability to recognize in advance when there is a problem requiring that the mother be transferred to a hospital for the delivery.
By Mireille Hanna
The chicken coop we funded a year ago continues to provide the boys’ hostel in Yajalón, Rancho Santiago Apostol, with income as well as nutritious meals for the students. They presently have 250 chickens at various levels of growth. The students share the duties involved in maintaining the coop and its lodgers in tiptop condition. The hostel provides food, lodging, and school supplies to boys from isolated villages in the coffee growing region, thus, allowing them to attend secondary school in Yajalón.
The Chiapas program now seeks sponsors to support graduates wanting to pursue studies beyond secondary school.
Our annual visit to Yajalon coincided with Father Loren Riebe’s visit to the projects he created and supported while serving for two decades as a missionary. Sharing the heartwarming and affectionate reception that awaited him was joyful, memorable, and inspiring.
It was also Mexico’s most festive weeks of the year, early December, a time when the Virgin of Guadalupe is honored with processions, flowers, happy songs and dance. Lots of delicious Tamales were served at a feast where I had the dubious honor of inaugurating and cutting the ribbon to…. not a school… not a hospital….it was quite simply a very humble bathroom built in response to a plea received a year ago from the committee of the Church of our Lady of Fatima.
We offered Yashalum’s boys’ hostel the funds to start a chicken coop that will provide the project with food and revenue . The hostel offers boys from rural villages an opportunity to attend secondary school in Yajalon by providing them with room and board as well as school supplies and uniforms. Sponsors for students are always needed.