Education Opportunities to Indigenous Communities

The Hoctún Municipality is located in a remote region of the Yucatán Peninsula of México. There is very little crime and civil unrest within these indigenous populated communities and they are eager for new opportunities. Because of their isolated location, many families have lived in extreme poverty for generations. In Mexico, it is estimated that 43% of the Indigenous populations have not completed primary school, and more than half of them work in manual, and low-skilled labor jobs.

With little education and even fewer opportunities, our Executive Director in México identified this region as one with a great need for the mentoring and training opportunities that we provide.

The Hoctún Municipality is located about an hour away from our main office in Mérida making it readily accessible for our team. With the support from local leaders, in December 2020 Mentors International set up five new classrooms in donated space within local community centers. These communities are very excited about the new programs that Mentors International is bringing to their region.

Refurbished computers were donated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to help facilitate these new learning opportunities. There are 4-6 computers at each location.

Mentors International partnered with “The Unconnected” – a UK-based B-Corp, to provide modems, routers, and internet connection for our new Centers of Education and Mentoring. Thanks to a generous donor the cost of ongoing internet connectivity has been covered.

In January 2021 our basic computer classes began. We have about 100 students, of all ages, ranging from 17+ attending these classes at five different community centers.

Our teachers are there in-person, and virtually through video calls every day making sure that these students who previously have not had the opportunity for computer education are understanding the concepts and able to correctly operate these computers. This is the first time many of them have had the chance to work on a computer and have access to endless information through an internet connection. Having a professional teacher to safely guide them through internet-enhanced learning is priceless.

These students are learning basic Microsoft office programs such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Knowledge of these programs will help individuals keep better records of their business. It will also help them become more marketable to gain steady employment with higher wages.

Many of the younger students are fulfilling their service requirements by teaching basic computer skills to our more mature students that comprise parents and even grandparents. These newly learned skills are as simple as learning how to turn on a computer or save a document. It is heartwarming to see generations working together.

Our entrepreneurial and business development courses are also being taught within these community centers. Most individuals living in these remote areas have their own small business, ranging from agricultural, manual labor, food preparation, to homemade artisan goods. We teach basic business principles like record keeping, inventory control, and guide them as they differentiate their businesses from others.

In addition to these vocational computer courses, every student receives MENTORING. Part of this mentoring program includes teaching self-reliance principles. Learning financial literacy principles of how to manage their incomes, save for the future, and eliminate personal consumer debt. They are taught how to set and achieve goals for the future. Our mentors provide ongoing encouragement and counsel.

These courses are now underway, and our first graduating classes in the Hoctún Municipality are scheduled for the end of April, 2021. We are looking forward to sharing with you all that has been accomplished with this new project.

In line with our mission, we are grateful for this opportunity to lift even more individuals and families living in extreme poverty to levels of sustainable self-reliance through mentoring and training.

 

Stats Source: IWGIA – International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs

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