Oaxaca Mission Trip 2014
Arrival in Oaxaca (by Denise Fox-Barber) 8/3/14
Greetings from Mexico! Everyone arrived safe and sound. We attended a small Episcopal gathering (at Holy Trinity in Oaxaca) where Grant celebrated with Beatriz’s help. They fed us enough for lunch at coffee hour! Today was our first day at the Centro (the educational center for street children in Oaxaca). It was a delightful and productive day. The staff at the Centro were so appreciative of all the donations from our parishioners. We are busy tonight getting ready for another productive day tomorrow. Please, everyone, keep us in your prayers as we brave the heat and humidity! We will send more information later as well as a few more pictures.
The Cartonera Press Project (by Rev. Grant Barber) 8/6/14
On day 3, in room 1, creative writing, mutual interviewing. In room 2, the computer room, eight stations for students to use…entering in their writing. In room 3, painting covers. The St. Luke’s crew kept busy helping the kids in the morning, then keying in written work not already in the computers, formatting the booklet, punching holes in the cardboard covers, and matching them by size. Day 4, the kids kept busy binding the booklets between covers….77 covers. Before they could turn to the task at hand they all excitedly read through the booklets to find their own writings, now in print! Each child could take home a book for which they had painted. We are bringing back examples to show at a parish presentation, as well as many to sell at the Fair.
Grant and Denise are now sponsoring a second child at the Centro, Osiris. He lives with his mother in a single room, 14 by 14. He is pictured in the accompanying photos. We have a third, a girl named Mirabell, whom we will meet on Monday. She lives in a slightly larger house, but with tin walls and roof. Annie Harriman, along with Kim, have now sponsored a girl, and had the chance to meet her yesterday, Tuesday the 5th. Surely, pictures are forthcoming. Sponsorship is $250 a year. This supports a child who is not able to attend public school because their families can’t pay for basic fees, a uniform, and shoes. They are not only given those basics once sponsored, but also medical and dental care, as well as before and after school tutoring and enrichment help, plus a balanced, hot meal for lunch.
Tomorrow we head out to San Miguel del Vale to begin pulling together a playground. Should be interesting!
Trip Wrap-Up (by Denise Fox-Barber) 8/12/14
We leave Oaxaca tomorrow and can’t believe our time is already over. Grant and I spent today meeting Mirabell, the third child we are sponsoring at the Centro. We also spent most of the rest of the day with Jose, the 12 year old we have sponsored for over a year. He had been having trouble seeing the blackboard at school. We were able to take him to see an optometrist and boy did he need glasses! He’s not thrilled but he has agreed to wear them all the time and was very appreciative of the help (his grandmother weaves beautifully and I have been the recipient of several items she has made – can’t wait to show them to everyone). Not sure how Jose was seeing much of anything, especially the blackboard.
We spent Thursday – Saturday at San Miguel del Valle working on the children’s playground – followed by a wonderful celebration attended by over 150 villagers! The smiles on the children’s faces when they were able to swing, play on the monkey bars, and see saw was priceless. There is also an obstacle course and benches for the parents. Another swing set, tire swings, and possibly a few other items are going in as well. The villagers were so very appreciative. It was a wonderful celebration! Karen, Grant and I ate and drank things we’ve never even seen before! Helping to build the playground was hard and dirty work but the villagers’ enthusiasm and the children’s delight with the end product made it well worth the effort.
Apologies for the delay in posting. We have been having technical difficulties with the internet. Looking forward to seeing everyone very soon!
Ten Days in Oaxaca, Mexico (by Rev. Beatrice Hurwitch) 8/2014
Oaxaca is considered to be the poorest province in Mexico. Being in Oaxaca, getting to know the people, their needs, their work ethic, their customs and way of life was a unique experience for me.
As you know, I joined a group of nine people led by Rev. Grant and his wife Denise Fox-Barber to work on a project at the Educational Center for street children, also known as children street vendors, that would help them bring in some income to be used towards their education.
A lot of families are very poor and do not have the means to buy their children the required items needed to enter school – such as shoes and uniforms, no matter how simple or inexpensive they may be. All the children who do go to the Educational Center are sponsored by caring people willing to make a difference, one child at a time.
Besides their regular curriculum in a public school, at the Hope Educational Center children are taught computer science, discipline in their studies, respect for all, and moral values. Their main language is Spanish, but they also learn to speak English. These children were confident, doing well in school, had radiant smiles and were happy and full of fun. While those children who had filled out the application forms and were waiting for a sponsor looked resigned and sad.
We spent the first four days with the children on a project led by Denise Barber that involved hours of cutting paper, cardboard, using glitter paints and binding. Some of the children did really beautiful works of art. Then we spent the next five days going to a village high in the surrounding mountains to help build a playground for the children there. When the swings, the see-saws and monkey bars were in place the children were overjoyed and their laughter mingled with the laughter of their parents.
As I look back on all I experienced in Oaxaca and remember those I met, young and old, villagers, men, women and children working together in their corn fields from sunrise to sunset, tending their small herd of goats which would supply the family with some milk and cheese, my respect for their way of life increased.
Mexicans are, by and large, very hard workers, skilled, creative craftsmen and excellent farmers. For thousands of years they have learned to cultivate and live off their land. They learned to take the simple, humble corn to the next level, creating a wide variety of delicious meals and yet I did not see anyone that was overweight.
On the return trip, I came away with the feeling that maybe the world would be in better shape if we tried to get to know one another, while at the same time respecting our differences.
A thought to ponder from “Wind, Sand and Stars” by Antoine de Saint Exupery, copyright 1940 --
“We met at last. Men travel side by side for years, each locked up in his own silence or exchanging those words which carry no freight- till danger comes, then they stand shoulder to shoulder. They discover that they belong to the same family…they wax and bloom in the recognition of fellow beings! They look at one another and smile…they are like the prisoner set free who marvels at the immensity of the sea”…