Starting Back Better at Santa Ines
It has been roughly two and half years since we have been able to visit our affiliated sites, and I personally couldn’t wait to have the opportunity to travel to Mexico again. It finally happened in mid-May, and the trip exceeded all of my expectations.
Without a doubt, our volunteer coordinators have had a tough time through the pandemic. Whether in the United States or abroad, school closures made accessing the children in our sponsorship program so much more of a challenge, but it was more important than ever as families tried to cope with so uncertainty.
The devastation of the pandemic
Our affiliated sites in Mexico were no exception and in some ways, had it worse than other sites we work with. Each of our sites in Mexico — one in Mexico City, Guadalajara, Monterrey, and San Miguel de Allende — functions as a group home as well as a resource center. Therefore, when the pandemic hit, kids not only couldn’t go to school but in some cases could no longer stay in the group home and had to instead return to unstable and impoverished environments.
This was exactly the case at our affiliated site in Mexico City, Casa Hogar Santa Inés. When Luis and I arrived there a few weeks ago, we were greeted by our volunteer coordinator, Sister Flor, who gave us a tour of the facility while the girls were still in school. Sister Flor informed us that the girls had returned to Santa Inés three weeks prior. During that time, their single mothers, or family members that acted as their guardians, would come to the Home once a month to pick up hygiene items and food, thanks to the girls’ sponsors. Beyond that, Sister Flor would call around and check on the girls during the week, making sure the girls’ basic needs were met the best she could.
The same but different
In total, twenty-seven girls came back to Santa Inés Home once the government allowed it and are back to school. The younger girls, those in pre-school and kindergarten, attend a local public school. The older girls, who attend primary school, go to a private school where each of them has received a scholarship to cover their school fees and books. The girls sleep at the Home from Sunday until Friday, and then are picked up by a parent or guardian, some of which travel upwards of two hours across Mexico City to Santa Inés.
For the most part, Santa Inés looked very much the same as I remember from when Luis and I visited back in 2016 — the grounds are incredibly well-kept, the dormitories are brightly painted and cozy, and the playground area offers ample space for the girls to play and just be kids in a safe and loving location. Sister Flor explained to us that outside of the support that each girl receives from her Children Incorporated sponsors, she relies on social services through the government and donations from local pharmacies and groceries stores to make sure the Home has everything it needs to provide for the children.
A big difference I did notice from our visit was just how many more services the Home is now providing to the children than before. A dentist volunteers time once a week to check on the girls’ teeth, and a computer lab and library are available for afterschool tutoring. A small infirmary is fully stock with medications, and a clothes and supply room are abundant with items. Sister Flor even told us that she works to help the girls with their English. It seemed that over the years Sister Flor and the other administrators had really gone above and beyond to make the Home the best that it could be.
A place to call Home
After we finished the tour, we had a chance to meet the girls as they arrived from school. Sister Flor told us that she hopes that now that the Home is fully operating again. she can continue to add more girls to their program, which I think is a fantastic plan.
Even with all the challenges that the Home faced over the last two years, it was obvious that they still managed to grow and expand what they are able to offer, and any child would be fortunate to be able to call this place Home.
How do I sponsor a child in Mexico?
You can sponsor a child in Mexico in one of three ways: call our office at 1–800–538–5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at firstname.lastname@example.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in Mexico that is available for sponsorship.