By Moonyeen King
President of the Board for Tepehua
Hu Shi, a Chinese essayist who died in 1962, said “Fighting for your rights is fighting for a nation’s rights, fighting for your freedom is fighting for a nation’s freedom”. Education is a right that everyone should fight for, if not for self, for others. A society that’s illiterate will remain oppressed and poverty stricken. A sure way to control the masses is to keep them in ignorance.
There is no such thing as free education. If parents are faced with the costs of registration, books and uniforms, education is out of reach for most families. If a little money is available, the boy is usually chosen. Many of the Tepehua children lucky enough to get into the school system have to make a choice, bus fare or snack money. A hungry child cannot concentrate. A simple answer to this is ALL children going to school have a free bus card, or just show the school registration card. All drivers should honor this.
Lack of money also means lack of eye care, which automatically will make a child have bad grades if they cannot see. Challenges abound here in Mexico for the child eager to learn.
The Tepehua Centro Comunitario AC, in the hills of Tepehua, outside the bustling tourist town of Chapala, made a pledge to educate as many children as possible, even if it is just basic education. For those who cannot make higher education, we plan a trade school program. The success of a strong middle class can only be from education. Children with higher education tend to leave the village, but those who have a trade school background usually stay, and make the village stronger.
Help with the cost of education is coming from amazing sources, from other children. Across the infamous wall to the North, there are children setting up lemonade stands, making things out of rocks and selling them. One such child is in secondary school in Vancouver BC, and states she does not need all this ‘stuff’. Theo Binnie, a girl who spends her time collecting money, selling things to send two Tepehua children to school, says “I care because how could you not? If you don’t pay attention to others in other places of the world, you are crazy...I don’t understand how someone couldn’t care.”
Ella Comber from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a 7th Grader, is sending two Tepehua children to school by selling lemonade and home-made bracelets. “Knowing there are thousands of people with no homes, education, care...I support these children because I want them to be in good health and have enough education to get a job.”
At the Rochester Day Care Center in New Hampshire the little ones, 6 years old and younger, have a cookie and candy booth, and every month or so send dollars from their sales to go towards a child’s education. It seems there is no age limit for philanthropists. What makes these children look around and object to the injustice of others? Certainly for the very young it is the instigation of the parents and teachers.
There are many teenagers changing the world, such as Malala in Pakistan, Amanda Halpuch in New York, David Smith in Johannesburg and more scattered over the world. Is this bravery taught or is it that special people are born to preserve justice for others? Mexico’s very own heroes “Ninos Heroes”, teenagers from 10 to 19 years who died defending Chapultepec Castle from the USA in 1847. The last teen standing jumped to his death with the flag of Mexico wrapped around his small frame. Sept 13th is a day to remember the courage of the young.
Truman once said “Brave men don’t belong to any one country, I respect bravery wherever I see it”.
Look to the courage of the children. Those who fight and those who support them. They are our tomorrow.
MOONYEEN PATRICIA KING
Column: Profiling Tepehua
Settled in Mexico 13 years ago. The intention was to retire into the arts as a writer, poet and painter...that didn’t happen. Beneath the smiles of the peoples of Mexico there was such a great need for change, especially for the women and children of the barrios, Moonyeen has dedicated these years to change the face of this little corner of the world. The work done by the volunteers of the Tepehua Community Center is teaching that change is possible anywhere. Moonyeen was portrayed as “Woman of the Year,” also two Paul Harris Rotary awards for the work done at Tepehua. “Life in Mexico is very fulfilling. The Mexican people give so much more to us immigrants than we can possible return.