Centro de Compartimiento Report May 2010    
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CDC Celebrates their 5th Birthday!

Caminante, no hay camino, se hace camino al andar.

Sojourner, there is no road, we make the road by walking.

 

The original vision for the Center For Sharing was conceived in Mexico. Because of the experiences we had there in the 1980’s, we came to believe that all persons have been gifted by God in order to bless, heal and repair the world, but most people never get the chance to develop or employ their gifts.  It is only through caring communities of support and accountability that most come to know themselves, and discover their best contribution in service of the common good.

We had supported an orphanage in the isthmus for 20 years. But too few of the children who grew up there seemed to come out equipped to go into the greater community as contributing members of society.  It was when Maria Guadalupe Perez, Glenn Cross and myself visited that orphanage and found two young adults who had grown up there, now married to each other, with a new baby of their own, still living at the orphanage, with no marketable skills, that the time seemed right for the dream I had back in the 1980’s to be born in Mexico.

Maria, a CFS board member at the time, and resident of Pasco, Wa., agreed to locate in Juchitán, Oaxaca over the summer. While there, she spoke with many of the town’s leaders to gain their understanding about what young people needed most in that region. They all agreed that young women in that society grow up without much value or voice.  Almost half are married by age 15 and start families immediately. The cycle of poverty and related issues continues for the next generation.

Over the summer a plan came together. Maria was able to enlist several leaders in forming a board of directors and start the legal process for forming a local nonprofit Mexican organization whose mission would be to educate girls who want to continue their studies and use their education as servant leaders… to lead by serving in their communities.  

Enough funds were collected to purchase property and build a home for college age girls to live. Another house, in nearby Espinal, was rented for middle and high school girls to live in, each with a house mother. Most of the girls who sign up for CDC come from pueblos that either have no schools, or maybe only a primary school. Girls become servants in their parents’ home until they marry. 

June 2010 CDC Report

As CDC approaches its 5th birthday, we are beginning to see the fruit of the seeds that were planted 5 years ago. It is all the more profound, evenmiraculous when you know something of the backgrounds from which they come, and their lived experiences. Almost all had to leave their homes at 12 or 13 or so in order to continue studying, and they could only do that if they also worked in order to feed themselves and pay for transportation, etc.  Most find they are unable to sustain it, end up malnourished, worn out, lonely and/or are often traumatized along the way.

But our young women do not want to be thought of as poor girls with no options! They embrace the idea that they have come to be prepared to lead……to lead by serving others so that, according to that challenging guideline by Robert Greenleaf, they become…"healthier, freer, wiser, more autonomous, more likely to become servants themselves"….always with an eye for impact on the most vulnerable in society…starting with the fact that most of them will become mothers themselves one day. 

Yudelma is the first CDC resident to graduate college with a 4 year degree in March 2010 (which is referred to as a "licensiatura" there)!  Yudi’s degree is in information systems. She is currently working part time in an insurance company while looking towards a career. We are so proud of her!!!

Eneydi, who has been with CDC for 4 years, is due to graduate college next year with a degree in accounting.  

Leti has been in the CDC high school program for three years. She will leave in June, to continue her college education in a city that offers coursework in psychology or nutrition. Casa Isabel is just about finished with it's second floor expansion.

By the way, President Calderon has just signed a law banning junk food sales in all 220,000 Mexican schools. He was quoted as saying that 26% of Mexican children, 5-11 years are now obese. Only about one quarter of schools in México have cafeterias so kids rely on vendors  around the schools who sell popular items such as pork rinds, tamarind candy and hot atole in the mornings. Veggie consumption in Mexico has declined by 40%, as well as fruit consumption, in favor of pre-packaged junk food snacks.

While we were in town, the local board of directors organized a public presentation at a popular local restaurant, the Santa Fe, complete with a 15 minute video presentation.   Aurora played the keyboard as people arrived. She is from Oaxaca. Her father was dead set against her continuing school after 4th grade.  But she prayed and asked God for a miracle. One day her pastor told her about the CDC program for girls in the Isthmus. She finished her primary schooling in one year, is now in middle school, and on track to finish it in half the usual time. 

The newspapers and television covered this event, which was attended by some of the girl’s parents,and both candidates running for town president in Juchitán, and Espinal, as well as many other community leaders.  The next day, during our board meeting, two mothers came to the house asking for space for their daughters. CDC now has more girls on the waiting list than they can accommodate. Several of the girls come from one or the other of only four towns in the world still believed to use the Huave language, which is believed to be pre-Hispanic.  We would love to be able to raise the funds to expand the program! Currently, the annual budget for both houses together is at about $43,000 USD.

We are so proud of the board and staff at CDC who are committed to studying servant leadership values on a regular basis with the students, as well as spiritual formation and social service activities. These girls, ranging from 13-22 have already read through some of the best books on the market (granted many are U.S in origin, and translated, such as Seven Habits... More indigenous authors are needed to teach and write about servant leadership.)

Glenn and I usually offer a class while with the students. This time we were teaching on the praxis model of (popular) education as anaction/reflection/action method to address critical issues in one’s context.  We were sitting in a circlein the front yard of Casa Angeles. All of a sudden, Dr. Jorge announced that el tren (the train) was coming through town…just down the street from the house. He took off to see it and we all followed. As we approached the tracks, and looked up, there on the top of the train cars were many people sitting, mostly young men from Central America. These people are on their way to El Norte, often from Central America. They bring nothing at all with them. The trip is harrowing. Some never make their destination because they fall off the train and either lose limbs or are killed. Some arrive sick, half starved, often beaten along the way. They leave behind them, the women and children. We are told there are whole villages with almost no men left in them. 

As we continued on with our class, our job is to ask some good questions such as: what do you think is going on here? Why? How do you feel about that? What does God think about it? What needs to happen? And finally, do we have any part in this problem/solution?   In this way, we slowly come to realize that it is possible to make a road between the present and a preferred future….and all of a sudden, it dawns upon us, that in this way, we can be a small but real part of helping the reign of God to show up here on earth.  

Note: if you would like to visit Oaxaca with us or receive more information about how you could be involved, please stop by or give us a call!  Gracias!