Who would ever think that putting together metal washers and colorful ribbon would result in stunning necklaces and a successful fundraising project for The Oaxaca Learning Center (TOLC)? That’s what volunteer Francine LaPorte did to help the Center recently raise almost $2,000 USD to buy computers for its students.
“Everything about TOLC moved me, she says. There are dedicated and inspirational young people working so hard as students, tutors and coordinators, all together as a respectful community.”
“While in Oaxaca this year, I learned how to make a deceptively simple yet elegant necklace composed of washers and ribbon. At the same time, Armando badly needed to replace his almost dead, six-year-old computer,” Francine said. An idea was born.
How the Necklace Project Started
Francine was talking with a friend the need when the friend spontaneously handed her a gift of 500 pesos, saying only, ʻI want to help.ʼ Earlier that day the friend had complimented Francine’s necklace, so in thanks Francine gave her a necklace as a gift. “Voila,” Francine said, “an idea was born: Collares Por Computadoras.”
Order necklaces online at email@example.com
Order from Mexico or the USA. The price in Mexico is 100 pesos. In the U.S. the necklaces cost $10 each, plus shipping.
Since that epiphany moment, Francine has made and sold hundreds of necklaces and donated the proceeds to the Learning Center. She is a regular customer at the local fabric shop where she buys yards of rainbow-colored ribbon. The neighborhood family-owned hardware store is her source for metal washers that she buys by the kilo.
“I have shown the necklaces to friends, along with the TOLC brochure and personal photos of the young people needing financial help. I show them the three shades of red – or, as I have named them, vino tinto, bugambilia and jitomate. Any color from the spectrum can be ordered, including red, green and white for the Mexican flag. She has also developed a pink one in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness.
Recently Francine and Tracy Roach, another Oaxaca Learning Center ESL volunteer teacher, hosted a workshop with three scholarship recipients. Together they made 39 necklaces one Sunday morning. This will develop into a peer-directed, non-profit social business to build on TOLCʼs mission to provide financial support for tutors and staff. The new entity is called “Porte de La Porte”. They have new ideas and marketing strategies, as well as designs for men that include bracelets and belts.
How Francine Got Involved
Francine comes to Oaxaca for the winter from Tenants Harbor, Maine. A former Teacher of English as a Second Language, she discovered the Learning Center during an Internet search about Oaxaca. “I wanted to use my TESOL skills as a volunteer,” she says. “I became involved with the Center during a stay in 2010 as a tutor working with Armando Carmona Cruz and Mirell Duarte, members of the senior staff who were both on scholarships given by the Cambridge Academy to study English.” From that moment, Francine became an ardent supporter of the Center.
Bravo! for this project, for the sustainability of the Oaxaca Learning Center, and in honor of founder Gary Titus’ 80th birthday.
How To Order
UK Medical Student Talks About Health Care in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca
Edd Morris grew up in the United Kingdom (UK) on the Wales-England border. He just finished medical school in London, England, and decided to return to a Spanish-speaking country to volunteer in a community service project before going on to a two-year hospital residency back home. He has a passion for people and community health. When he contacted us about coming to Oaxaca, we helped place him in the Teotitlan del Valle public health clinic. Here is his story.
“I’ve always wanted be a General Practitioner (that’s what we call Family Doctors in the UK) and so I thought it would be an incredible opportunity to volunteer in a community clinic in rural Mexico.
[Photo above left: Doctora Elizabet, clinic director, with Edd Morris. Photo above right: Edd with patient and Dr. Jonas.}
I’ve been here for a month, working alongside the doctors and nurses of the Teotitlan de Valle Centro de Salud. I’ve observed consultations and undertaken my own, too. I’ve accompanied the nurses on a community vaccination drive, And, I’ve dressed a lot of wounds and ulcers!
One programme here really caught my imagination. It’s called Oportunidades, and it’s a national social support system offered by the Mexican state.
[Photo above, left to right: Ms. Mayra, administrative manager, Dra. Elizabet, Edd Morris, Dra. Guadalupe]
Through Oportunidades, disadvantaged families can receive financial support from the Mexican Government, as long as they fully participate according to the plan.
There are different strands to the programme — the children in the family must attend school and the head of the household is required to go to seminars about healthy living, for example.
[Photo above left: Edd with village community service in-take volunteer, and above right, with nursing staff.]
Healthcare is a crucial aspect. Everybody who participates in Oportunidades must attend a six-month health check with a doctor, and children must be up-to-date with all their vaccines. Doctors should bring up relevant issues at every health check-up. For example, it is important to discuss pregnancy prevention with adolescents.
In Teotitlan, Oportunidaes participants are also asked to take part in group exercise. I went running with the men’s group last Thursday, then we played a 60-minute soccer match (it was exhausting — I was the one who almost needed medical help when the game ended!)
[Photo above left, Edd with Dr. Pablo, and right, with Norma Hawthorne]
Families who demonstrate their engagement with the Oportunidades programme then receive financial support from the government. The money is paid directly to the bank account of head of the household – effectively wiping out any diversion of funds.
What’s even more impressive is that the role of head-of-household is always delegated to a woman. Mexican research has shown that when a woman receives the money, she’s much more likely to spend it on her family and children – exactly those the programme is meant to support.
Oportunidades is a really impressive programme and the doctors tell me that it’s been successful at breaking the cycle of poverty. Like any large-scale initiative, it’s not perfect or infallible, but it’s one of the things which really impressed me with healthcare in Mexico.”
[Public health messages throughout the town help educate people about health prevention, including dental care, diabetes, heart and respiratory illness, and more.]
Edd Morris leaves Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca, on June 18, 2014. When he returns to London, he will begin work at Queen Elizabeth Hospital, London which serves a diverse, low-income population. He receives his official medical degree from St. Georges, University of London (www.sgul.ac.uk) in two weeks. Edd remarked about what a rich, meaningful and culturally diverse experience this has been to have a direct connection with the local population. What he learned will help prepare him for the next step in his profession. From all accounts, everyone he has come in contact with has enjoyed knowing, working with and hosting him here. When are you coming back? was a question I heard all day.
We are accepting applications for volunteers to serve in the public health clinic for 2014 and 2015. You must be a student in a baccalaureate or masters degree program in the following fields: nursing, medicine, physician assistant, and be a Spanish speaker with at least one-year of university level language skills. If you are interested, please contact us.
Posted in Cultural Commentary, Health Care, Travel & Tourism
Tagged centro de salud, clinic, doctor, internship, medicine, Mexico, nurse, Oaxaca, physician assistant, public health, student, Teotitlan del Valle, volunteer