A country that shares a border with the United States, Mexico often has a cost of living similar to the U.S. but with much lower income opportunities. This makes life very challenging for families living in poverty.
In the Cuernavaca project, 14 scholarship students offer their services as assistant teachers to more than 90 sponsored children.
These classes cater to students who cannot attend a regular school because they do not have their birth certificates. Although these classes are not part of a formal study program, they do ensure that children receive a parallel quality education.
These classes are free and offered at the local CFCA office. Some teachers are volunteers who support this educational benefit.
Tell us about yourself and when you became a scholar student in CFCA-Cuernavaca?
My name is Erika, and I am 30 years old. I have been in the scholarship program since 2004.
What are you studying and when will you graduate?
I completed my degree in physical education in 2011. But throughout the year, I have the opportunity to take courses in human development at the CFCA office.
For example, I am currently in an ethics course, which helps us to improve attitudes and behavior. This is a tool that prepares me to work with sponsored children. I’m starting a course on computers and English at a university.
How does the scholarship help you? How do you use it?
It helps me with my transportation costs to come to the local office, so I can take my courses and give my service to sponsored children. It also helps me with food because sometimes I only have soup to eat.
Thanks to the scholarship, I am able to continue preparing for my future.
What is your community service? How many service hours do you give and how do you think this helps your community?
I come to the local CFCA office Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. I work with children up to 7 years old, and assist in their physical and mental development. We also support educational activities through games, songs and stories.
Being a part of CFCA helped me to be the person I am today. I think what I bring to my community is the love I give to the children and I try to give them the desire to be better in life.
The young girls often come to me for advice. I am a confidant for them, and I like to help them.
What have you learned as a scholar student?
I learned so much thanks to all the courses and talks we’ve had; like the talk against addictions, including sharing and participating in meetings where scholars spoke about solidarity.
I think there is always something new to learn, and CFCA gives me many opportunities and support to do it.
What do you most like about the scholarship program and CFCA?
What I like is that each year we gather in a scholar student meeting so we can meet young people from other places.
I also like the CFCA talks they have about human development and self-esteem.
What have been some of the biggest obstacles you’ve had as a student and how has CFCA helped you overcome these obstacles?
For me, CFCA really helped with my food expenses, travel and things I needed for school. When I would study, I had no money and would cry at night.
I truly believe that without the opportunity from CFCA, I would not have come to achieve my goal and finish my degree.
I became pregnant two years before graduation. I would sell yogurt and sweets, which helped. Sometimes I had to walk to school from my mother’s home because I didn’t have bus fare. But I always kept my eye on my goal to finish my studies.
I have a saying: Even if you have 100 people by your side telling you to go for it, if you don’t want to do it, it isn’t possible.
What are your hopes and dreams for the future?
My dream of a lifetime was to finish college, and I did.
Now my dream is to have a nice home; a place where my husband, my son and I live that is ours.
I currently live with my mother. My husband, my son and I have a little room.
My son will sometimes ask me, “Mom, when will we have a house? Why does my friend have a house and we do not?”
My biggest hope for the future is to continue preparing myself to help people or girls who come to me for advice or support.
Is there any other significant factor that has helped you to be the person you are today?
Something that has been really significant in my life, and has made me who I am now, is my son.
I told myself that my pregnancy would encourage me to finish college. Unlike many pregnant girls who leave school, I continued striving despite the difficulties.
When I was pregnant, I would play music to my son and talk with him. I even thought, if my son’s father does not support me, I know I can still succeed.
Fortunately, today we three are together.
I think there are trials and obstacles that God puts before us so we can overcome them, and he does this because he knows that we will succeed. We also need to realize that we are able to do so.
God tests us so that we do not give up, we understand that problems are temporary and that we will achieve our goals someday.
We must not think with the mind, but with the heart.
Currently Erika’s son is 2 years old and is sponsored in the program. His name is Mariano. They have a dog they like very much named Dominguez.