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AVSI partner Crecemos-DIJO presents results in Mexico City | Print |  E-mail
Monday, 31 October 2011 19:21

altOn Monday, October 10th, AVSI and Crecemos-DIJO, the local partner of AVSI and independent organization based in the city of Oaxaca, Mexico, participated in the event “Crecer Juntos” or “Growing Together” which took place at the University Iberoamericana in Mexico City, Mexico. The event’s subtitle, “A Case Study of Success in Education and Nutrition Interventions in Marginalized Communities” provided a framework for the presentations of both the activities and methodology of Crecemos-DIJO and the results of an evaluation conducted by a professor from the hosting university.

Among the panelists at the event were the Italian Ambassador to Mexico, H.E. Roberto Spinnelli, the Vice-Rector of the University , the UNICEF Representative to Mexico Susanna Sottoli, a representative of CONAFE of the Secreteraia de Educación Publica, Secretary General of AVSI Alberto Piatti, Executive Director of Crecemos-DIJO Maria Soccorro del Rio, and Professor Sylvia Schmeckles of Iberoamericana. The forum was convened jointly by the University and the Italian-Mexican Chamber of Commerce.

In the introductions, the case of the partnership between AVSI and Crecemos-DIJO was praised as a model of effective collaboration among non-profit organizations with public sector authorities, private sector companies and academia; the composition of the panel and the audience attested to this fitting accolade.

Maria Soccorro del Rio gave the first intervention in which she described the methodology of Crecemos-DIJO and gave a brief picture of the organizations’ mission and activities. Del Rio highlighted the fact that the goal of all the educational, health and nutrition activities of the organization is to accompany each individual and family on an educational path. The concept of an “educational path” is not limited to achieving literacy or numeracy for example, but instead captures the process of personal growth towards an ideal of human dignity and full responsibility for one’s life and that of one’s family. Through her work and relationships with countless children and their families in the marginalized, poor neighborhoods around the colonial, touristic city of Oaxaca, Del Rio has understood that the pivotal moment is when an individual’s desire for change is awakened. Most often, this does not happen simply by receiving a service, no matter how needed it is.  Instead, desires spring forth from relationships when someone looks at another and says, “You are valuable, your life is beautiful, despite the lack of resources, etc.” The result of this attention is that people begin to change in profound ways that impact those around them.

Like the story of Esperanza, one of eight sisters born and raised in a poor family in Monte Alban under the shadow of an abusive alcoholic father. Esperanza found herself married at a young age to an abusive man after dropping out of school to help her mother make ends meet, and poised to perpetuate the intra-generational cycle of poverty.  When she came across the women working at the community kitchen run by Crecemos-DIJO in her neighborhood of Monte Alban, she thought it was simply an opportunity to get free meals for her children. This it was, but it was also the beginning of a new horizon for her life. That is because Crecemos-DIJO made it clear to Esperanza that in order to enroll her children in the programs she herself would have to make a commitment to bring her children regularly for at least 2 years, and to volunteer in the kitchen on an occasional basis. Essentially, she had to be ready to change and actually work towards a better life for herself and her children, but this time she was being accompanied, concretely, by other women, mothers themselves, who really took the time to be with her. Those who have known Esperanza for some time continue to be amazed at her transformation into a more confident, extremely committed mother who is so open to following the good and challenging things that Crecemos-DIJO has proposed to her. Not only are Ezperanza’s children benefiting from the daily meals provided by Crecemos-DIJO, but they are in the after-school academic enrichment program and jump at all opportunities for extra courses like English and soccer and cultural outings in the city and region. Del Rio mentioned Esperanza’s story to underline her main point that in order to be helped, the other person has to really desire something else. Once a deeply held desire—such as for the good of one’s children—is awakened and the possibility of fulfilling that desire is perceived, there is no stopping the human energy to seek the good.

altFollowing the event in Mexico City, a group from AVSI visited Crecemos-DIJO and their new community development center “Maria de Guadalupe” in Monte Alban. The new center is a remarkable place: physically beautiful, inviting and alive! Each morning the cooks arrive at 5am to prepare for the children and their parents who start filing in at 7:30am for their hearty first meal of the day. After multiple breakfast shifts to serve the 400 daily attendees, the children either head off to school (for kids in the morning session at the local primary school) or go to an upstairs classroom for pre-school (for 3 and 4 years olds) or academic enrichment (for kids in the afternoon session at the local primary school).

Medical appointments, meetings with staff and parents, and home visits are just some of the other activities keeping the staff of the Crecemos-DIJO center in Monte Alban busy every day. The staff is very aware that their work consists of much more than filling the bellies of these children day after day. They understand the educative role of the order and cleanliness of the place, the precision of the daily menus and portions designed for different levels of malnutrition, and the nutrition education they deliver constantly to the children and parents alike. And, in a remarkable way, they are quick to describe how working for Crecemos-DIJO has helped each of them to grow personally as well as professionally.   Literally, it is a place to grow together, which the new name of the organization captures perfectly (See more pictures of the life of the center).

Looking forward there are challenges as well as exciting developments already unfolding for Crecemos-DIJO. Businesses, both national and international, are increasingly interested in collaborating with Crecemos-DIJO in their mission of breaking the cycle of poverty in Monte Alban and around Oaxaca City. The current government of the State of Oaxaca is convinced of the value of Crecemos-DIJO’s work and hopes to find a way to tap into this expertise in order to benefit their system of community kitchens. In addition, within the network of AVSI initiatives and partners throughout Latin America, a number of possibilities for rich collaboration and exchange are popping up among projects addressing nutrition needs of local populations. AVSI is working on ways of strengthening a regional network around nutrition across Latin America to facilitate exchange and south-south cooperation. It will certainly be a challenge for Crecemos-DIJO to move beyond its base of traditional donors and to navigate these new opportunities.

The event in Mexico City highlighted the strong resources within the organization of Crecemos-DIJO, among which are the highly capable leaders, methodology rooted on the truth of the human person, and a strong relationship with committed partners such as AVSI.

Find out more:

Download the evaluation in English: "Growing Together" in Spanish: "Crecer Juntos"

February 10, 2011 Good Things Happening in Mexico!

Organizational Profile of Desarrollo Integral de la Juventud Oaxaquena (DIJO) in Oaxaca

News on the event from other sources:

AVSI y Crecemos presentan resultados de programa contra la pobreza en Oaxaca

From Efekto TV: El trabajo de la fundación AVSI en Oaxaca

Dal Messico, buone pratiche per lo sviluppo comunitario