Fundación Corazón de Niña
The content on this page originates from an interview of Melissa Canez by Peter Bruce in 2014.
When we talked about your philosophy, you mentioned that education was one of the four corner-posts of Fundación Corazón de Niña. Can you elaborate on that a bit? Why do you feel it is so important?
Well, it is certainly no secret that education, and the more the better, is crucial to raising people out of poverty. All the research and field experience in international development confirms that education = liberation. In particular, the research is very clear about where to invest development dollars to achieve the most benefit for the family. The answer is unequivocally, women.
…women are nurturers, they place the well-being of their family first. They are compelled by their very essence as a woman to ensure that the family survives.
Why women? Because women are nurturers, they place the well-being of their family first. They are compelled by their very essence as a woman to ensure that the family survives. So a big part of our job as house-parents at Fundación Corazón de Niña is to make sure our girls get a good education.
That is not to say that our boys do not also deserve and get a good education. I am simply saying that educating a girl has proven to be a very sound investment which pays tremendous dividends to her and her loved ones over her lifetime. She typically has stable, well-paid, meaningful employment or operates a successful business, a business which often employs her extended family.
So the education of one girl can raise the health and well-being of many, both men and women. In time, we believe a concerted focus on education can move Mexico out of its economic backwater, out of the clutches of organized crime and move it fully into the developed world. It’s the old story — one child at a time.
How does your strong commitment to education play out in everyday life at Fundación Corazón de Niña?
First, we took pains to find them a good school. We found one — a Catholic private school, considered among the best in Puerto Vallarta. Incredibly, up until this year, they fully subsidized the school fees for our children. This year, however, the subsidy has been halved, as they face their own financial challenges. Yet we are so grateful for their generosity.
Many of our girls have large gaps in their education because of their previous living circumstances.
Second, we make the childrens’ studies a priority in the home. There is scheduled study time and skilled adults available to tutor them. Many of our children and youth have large gaps in their education because of their previous living circumstances. They are playing ‘catch-up’ , made doubly difficult by emotional and psychological challenges that can leave them hard-pressed to focus and persist. Despite all this, they perform at the top of their class. Many have received scholarships, assuring them the wherewithal to continue with their education for as far as they wish to go. We are so very proud of them all.
Last, we consciously infuse our culture at Fundación Corazón de Niña with learning. We regularly take the boys and girls on field trips, expose them to new experiences and different ways of thinking and being in the world, encourage them to try new things and ponder the results, to be curious, ask questions, read widely, voice opinions and listen.
A Sad Tale and the Making of Corazón School
Yet it turned out that the education we thought our kids were getting was not reality. Our kids were coming home from both public and private schools with GPAs of 90% yet they still could not read! Something was amiss. We questioned our children and youth about their school experience. The answers were shocking. Classrooms are mere holding pens, places without control or purpose. The children throw things about, yell, name-call, and bully. The heat is insufferable. These are not places of learning. Far from it. And they are most assuredly no place for children still struggling to make sense of a brutal world they thought they’d left behind.
Yet what was the recourse? Private schools, for which we had been paying dearly, were no better. All this time the tutoring we had been giving our kids at home was the only schooling they’d been getting. We had been the school. And that realization was our answer. If we were already the school, let’s use the money to hire our own teachers and truly become the school — Corazón School. We’d follow the curriculum, enrich the program as we see fit and give our students the personalized support they need. This September, 2017, that is exactly what we did. And what a remarkable difference it is making. Already, two months in, we are noticing reduced stress levels, more attentiveness, more joy and progress in learning. The future bodes well for Corazón School. And you, our loyal supporters, make it all possible. Thank you.
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