By Tania Calderón, Marketing Manager, Pro Mujer in Mexico
Outside of Hidalgo’s industrial southern region, where most of the state’s economic activity is centered, there are high levels of poverty, and the state has one of the greatest academic performance gaps in the country.
Many of our clients struggle to provide their children with an education, which at times can be no easy task. Tuition, clothes and school supplies are expensive, and the costs quickly add up. In an effort to help clients reduce these costs, Pro Mujer in Mexico created a back-to-school program, “Preparing Children for a Successful Future,” which provides free backpacks containing school supplies to the children of clients who maintain a B+ average or higher in elementary and middle school.
A child at our Actopan center poses with her new backpack
The backpacks contain an array of useful supplies, including notebooks, rulers, protractors and calculators. In addition to those basic supplies, middle school students also receive a scientific calculator and a Spanish-English dictionary.
Not only do these backpacks help make school a little more affordable for clients, the program also provides their children with an extra incentive to earn good grades.
Pro Mujer staffers from our Sahagún centers prepare to distribute backpacks
The program also includes a competition where children of clients from each center are invited to submit a piece of writing or artwork that explains what they have learned as a result of their mother being involved with Pro Mujer. The child with the winning piece at each center received a laptop, and the runner up, a USB memory stick.
A promotional poster explains how the program works, and encourages clients to have their children participate
This exercise provides the children with a space to express themselves, and their stories are incredibly moving. Here is one letter we received from the child of a client from our Atotonilco center:
“Hi! My name is Brayan Flores and I want to share my story with you.
Since I was really little I have spent time in my mom’s store. When my brother was in kindergarten and I had almost finished preschool, I loved it and really wanted to keep going, but my parents couldn’t afford to send us to school anymore.
When I finally got to kindergarten I was invited to a party and they gave me sweets, which I then sold. My aunt Erica helped by buying some lollipops and my mom bought some chocolates. I realized that by selling candy, I could have money for school and to buy more sweets to sell.
When my mom was invited to join Pro Mujer, she said that she would be getting a loan just like I had with the candy. She told me that she was a microentrepreneur, and that I was a mini-microentrepreneur. Thanks to the Pro Mujer’s support, my mom is about to open a bank account so that she can send me to college, because she wants me to have a better future than she had. I still don’t understand many things, since I’m only 7 years old, but I can say that it is thanks to Pro Mujer that I can tell this story.”
In the program’s first year in 2011, we distributed 654 backpacks. This year, we provided backpacks to 1,035 young students from our 13 centers in Hidalgo. We look forward to making the school year even more exciting in 2013!