Charitible school funding facts

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Escrito por Lorenzo Marbut desde ( el día sábado, 15 de diciembre, 2007 a las 15:21:06 horas :

As I am one of the “kind-hearted, but naïve” and “generous, but dumb” gringos frequently mentioned on the bulletin board, perhaps I can shed some light on the subject of charitable school funding. I am a full-time resident of Zihua and an officer of three of the organizations that help provide educational opportunities to disadvantaged children in our community.

Occasionally, actual facts can help clarify a debate.

In 2005, Sailfest founded Por Los Niños de Zihuatanejo, a Mexican non-profit, to administer and distribute the funds raised by Salfest activities. I am the administrator of that charity. All funding decisions are made by a nine-member committee comprised of Mexican educators and year-round international residents. During the past two years, Por Los Niños has provided educational grants totaling more than $1,500,000 pesos to 14 under-funded schools in Zihuatanejo, including $62,000 pesos to a kinder garden recommended by ZihuaRob’s lovely wife, Lupita.

The grants provided building and repair materials, computers, teaching materials and scholarships administered by Niños Adelante.

Por Los Niños no longer provides general funding to the Netza school, we believe they now have other adequate funding sources. We do continue to administer a direct grant, from a “well-meaning, but uninformed” gringa, to help provide food, clothing and shelter to the 22 children residing in the Netza dormitory.

Por Los Niños established the Nueva Creaciòn Building Fund to provide a new safe school for 257 of Zihua’s neediest children. Fund members include the City of Zihuatanejo, Rotary International, Project Million Amigos, and Los Niños, Inc.

The money contributed during the three year fund-raising campaign was held in reserve until FIBAZI officially donated the land in a legally-established colonia. Three classrooms, two bathrooms and an office were built this summer. This is the only primary school in a neighborhood with 400 primary-aged children. Fund-raising continues during Sailfest 2008 to help build three additional classrooms.

As Director of International Relations for the Zihuatanejo Rotary Club, I can assure you that all our education grants go to certified schools, located on legal land, in established colonias. We are currently administering a grant to provide the furnishings for a new 200-student, independently-certified kinder garden to be located on legal land adjacent to the Netza school. A future grant will provide much of the furniture needed at the new Nueva Creaciòn primary school. Rotary funds may not be used to build schools, as Rotary believes that school construction is a government responsibility.

Los Niños, Inc, a U.S. non-profit that I founded with friends in Portland, Oregon, is dedicated to helping provide for the day-to-day educational needs of the children at the Nueva Creaciòn primary school, clearly Zihuatanejo’s poorest school. The admittedly-modest funds are used for uniforms, shoes, backpacks, nutrition, learning materials and scholarships (also administered by Niños Adelante.)

All Mexican public schools are under-funded. Not by choice, Mexico spends a greater percentage of government revenue on education than any other country in North or South America (2004 World Bank statistics), but, alas, that’s not much in a country where 40% live below the poverty line. All Mexican schools expect the parents to contribute financially to the school’s daily needs. Not all parents can afford to, so we try to help their children.

Are some of the parents “squatters”? Almost certainly. But, I don’t know and “Frankly, Scarlett, I don’t give a damn.” We don’t conduct a residential litmus test on the parents to determine whether their children are worthy of an education that, who knows, may even help break the cycle of poverty that encourages squatting in the first place.

The re-occurring use of the word “help” in this screed is intentional. We all recognize the primary responsibility of educating Mexico’s children falls on the shoulders of Mexicans. Some of us think they could use a helping hand.

Maybe we are not so dumb and naïve after all. What do you think?

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