Good news from Baja!
In this 3rd edition of the Baja Educational Initiative newsletter, we would like to update you on the latest happenings. As you can imagine, Mexico has been impacted by COVID-19. BEI pivoted this summer to partner with Baja Bound Ministries to meet the needs of families in Maneadero, Mexico. This partnership is called Tierra Firme. Layoffs from work or reduced work hours have resulted in food shortages for many families. We will share what Tierra Firme is doing to assist these families. We are also excited to give you news about our recent graduates. You will hear from one of our students who will share the challenges of doing schoolwork at home during the pandemic. Our new BEI Center is coming together! There are still many needs to help the BEI Center in combating the educational obstacles our students face. Finally, we would like to preview with you what school might look like in Maneadero as the schools begin to open in August. We can see how the BEI Center will be a great help to our students. We wish to thank you for your partnership with BEI and hope you can visit Mexico soon to see all that BEI is doing.
In the midst of COVID-19
With everything happening with the pandemic in Mexico, negative forecasts of its effect on families began almost immediately. It was clear that this was a health and economic crisis that would more deepen the existing gulf of inequality that currently exists. As our mission statement suggests, Baja Educational Initiative would address monitoring and supporting the educational process during distance learning. We stepped in quickly to provide access to the sources of information, facilitating access to virtual school, and monitoring the health of our scholars. We immediately asked ourselves another question: what could we expect for the families of our students? Many of our families are headed by farmworkers employed by export companies; with borders closed, companies were laying off up to 70% of their staff. Difficulties were compounded by a poor health system. Suddenly our students and their parents faced a lack of employment, money, and food, as well as difficulty accessing the internet and virtual school due to the lack of basic services such as electricity.
We began to receive messages like these:
"They have suspended face-to-face classes and we cannot go out, my parents do not have a job and we lack food."
"I lost my job; they are cutting a lot of staff in the packaging plant, and I do not have money for my children.”
We knew we had to do something. We were already helping students sustain access to the Internet, which many students did through their mobile phones. We knew it wasn’t enough, so we started with Operation Tierra Firma. To date we have delivered almost 1000 bags of food, cleaning, and disinfection supplies. With local volunteers under security protocols, we managed to deliver flyers of prevention information and health and hygiene care even before reaching the peak of infections. These home visits were crucial since many families in the hills of Maneadero lack radio, television, and internet. In many cases, Baja Educational Initiative was the first organization to provide information to low-income families within the Maneadero, San Quintin, and Ojos Negros areas. To each one who donated and those who continue to donate, infinite thanks! It is wonderful that there is hope in the face of scarcity and uncertainty!
BEI Center update
We continue preparing the BEI CENTER! The BEI CENTER will be a space for our scholarship students and the community of Maneadero, to use free internet for their homework and school projects, as well as to receive tutoring, have access to printing, use our library, and much more. We are excited to be able to make the Center accessible to the community since, due to the pandemic, many students are now struggling to do their homework online, as they do not have access to electricity, much less the internet. We have made a lot of progress during this season in the remodeling of the center: preparation of the walls, installing tile, and painting the center. We have also received donations of computers and equipment for students to use; however, we still have a long way to go.
Now more than ever our students need access to the internet and computers! For this reason, we are willing to open the center for the students, with all the necessary precautions in place, as soon as possible. However, we will tentatively have a grand opening in winter 2020 for all those interested in touring the center and being part of this great dream.
If you would like to join this dream of breaking the cycle of poverty through education, click here to see different needs for the BEI center or go to the website and on your donation comments you can specify that is for the Center.
That long-awaited moment of the school year arrived! Despite the pandemic this semester, we had 10 students graduate from different levels of education. It is an honor for us to present these students, who despite the economic and social
difficulties that they had, achieved one more
milestone in their academic life.
This year we honored our graduate students by taking the celebration to their homes. We visited
each of them to give them a present and take an elegant photo with their graduation gowns. With a big smile on their faces, wearing a cap and gown, they modeled for the picture that will remind them of this particular Quarantined-graduation.
We know that the pandemic added a further degree
of complexity to their studies, but they still succeeded. We’re delighted by our graduates of all grade
levels, from kindergarten to university.
Thanks to the support of our sponsors,
the dream of these little ones becomes
possible at every step.
Here we present you some of the photos of the
The daily rutine of a working student!
My name is Claudia Pablo Ramirez. I am 19 years old. I am a college student, studying law. I also work in the field, cutting vegetables. I remember that the law profession has attracted my attention for as long as I can remember. I always told my family that I wanted to be a lawyer, since I like to think that in the future I could defend and help many people. My parents have always supported me emotionally, and financially within what they have been able to. My whole family is very special to me; I have two brothers and a sister. My parents and older brother work in the fields, while my younger brothers and I study. Although I have held jobs before, a month ago I began working full time. My daily routine begins at 4:10 AM when I get up to get ready to go to work. I spend 11 hours in the field before leaving at 5: 00 PM. Upon arriving home, I start studying and doing homework. I fall asleep at 10:00 PM or later, depending on how much homework I have. What tires me the most is working, having to do homework late because of the lack of electricity, often staying up late and going to work the next day. What makes me happiest is when after struggling to turn in my homework, it turns out well!
This experience that we are living during the pandemic has been very difficult for us. There was a time when my parents did not have a job; their employers cut staff and we did not have money. My studies were severely affected because of how difficult it is to study outside of school without electricity and internet during isolation, without being able to personally ask what I did not understand. The learning was much less than what I obtained in person, and I was afraid of not passing my classes. The worst part was seeing my parents worried and not having food to eat during the day.
I have to do my homework on my cell phone. I buy credit for my phone in small chunks, a few hours at a time, in order to have access to a few hours of internet to do my research.
Normally my schoolwork is almost completely comprised of research papers. I do everything on my cell phone because I do not have a computer. In fact sometimes I have
missed homework assignments because it is so
difficult to do research or write essays on my cell
Within my neighborhood, we are all in the same condition. There are some families in even a worse situation than us. At times it discourages me, but I always find a reason to keep going. I feel very proud to see my achievements and realize what I am capable of doing! What motivates me to continue is knowing that this pandemic will eventually pass, and after so much struggle I will see my achievements.
I want to thank Baja Educational Initiative because they have supported me so much. During distance learning, they have been paying for my internet access and tuition, which gives me the opportunity to focus on studying and working to pay my personal expenses.
A little kindness goes a long way! Learn more about how you can help others at bajaeducationalinitiative.org.