On April 18, 2022, a group of individual private donors, as well as their family members and a few AVSI-USA staff, set out on a “Come & See” trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, to visit the Crecemos DIJO Center. The trip was a long time coming. It was originally scheduled for October 2020. Now, 18 months later, it was finally happening. Yet, after two years in a world substantially changed by the pandemic, some of us couldn’t help but wonder if we should be taking this trip at all.
At first, Margarita and Griselda thought the COVID-19 pandemic was a challenge they were not ready to face.
“COVID changed our lives. At first, we lost our jobs; we had to lock ourselves up. My children couldn’t go to school, and I had to be a teacher for them, and check their homework,” says Margarita.
“I used to wash, cook and clean while children were at school, but once they were home all the time and I had to check their homework, the house was a chaos, and it was very stressful for them, and for me” echoes Griselda.
Jessica Anderson recently earned her MA from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland, in International Security and Development. In the Summer of 2019, she spent a few months in Oaxaca, Mexico, carrying out research with Crecemos, an AVSI-USA long-term partner. Her work culminated in a case study in which she evaluates the effectiveness of Crecemos’ localized nutrition interventions over five years and examines the influence of interlinking areas in a child’s life such as education, recreational sports and arts, family relationships, and food preferences. In the following interview, Jessica discusses her time in Oaxaca and shares how this unique experience widened her “horizons and expanded both her intellect and heart.”
Every day, Paula Vásquez tries to create for herself and her family a “new normal” during COVID-19. She wakes up at 5:30 AM, prepares breakfast, eats alone, and leaves two meals for her sons, sixteen-year-old Jesús and ten-year-old José Luis. Then, she walks through the narrow, dusty streets of the Monte Albán Colony, one of the most vulnerable neighborhoods of Oaxaca, Mexico, to get to work. It takes her half an hour on foot to get to Crecemos, the educational center where she works as a cook. There, she washes her hands, puts on a mask, and starts her new routine. In the next eight hours, she will prepare 300 meals to be distributed to the 150 families served by Crecemos.
On March 20, Mexico closed schools nationwide to prevent the spread of COVID-19. A few days earlier, on March 17, Crecemos had already sent home the children who come regurarly to the educational center located in one of the poorest neighborhoods in Oaxaca, Mexico. In their bags, Crecemos staff helped them pack homework, instructions on how to wash hands and keep social distance and their musical instrument.
In January, AVSI-USA will be presenting two debut screenings of an award-winning documentary about Crecemos, an education and nutrition center in Oaxaca, Mexico, a long-term partner of the international NGO.
The Awakened Heart first screening will take place in New York on January 14, 2017, as part of the New York Encounter, and in Washington DC, on January 25, 2017, at the Mexican Cultural Institute. Screenings will be followed by a Q&A discussion with Executive Director of Crecemos, Maria del Socorro del Rio.