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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.