Our Stories

One of our children
2004 © Elizabeth Slaymaker

Mary Pat Wilson and Bob White  
(Our child) came into our lives when she was seven years old.  Along with her older brother and her parents, she lived in a small two-room house in Oaxaca.  Limited electricity, concrete floor, a water pump in front of the house, and a shared outhouse in the back.  We fell in love with her from the start.  It didn’t matter that she spoke no English and we were beginners at Spanish.

Over the past five years her life has improved.   By piecing together numerous jobs, her parents have managed to move the family to a better house in a village outside the city.  Now twelve, she excels in school and is captain of her soccer team. The sponsorship helps pay for school books, uniforms, and shoes.

Claudia Maria Morales Santiago  "When I was a little girl I dreamt about doing something for my people who are Mixtecos, an indigenous group from the Mixteca region in Oaxaca. We, as indigenous people, have always been surrounded by endless limitations; and one of those is having access to an education.  I was one of the privileged who had the opportunity to go to school with the help of C.E.I. Now, after 8 years of support I´m working as a teacher and I can help my people just as I had dreamed. Not everyone understands the importance of being educated, I had the chance to understand it thanks to my sponsor who supported me with my studies."  

Teri Schwartz  I first visited Oaxaca Street Children's center 5 years ago at the recommendation of a dear friend.  I fell in love with the organization and its mission and I sponsored a child.  Being a part of this organization and the lives of the children who are touched by it is very important to me.  

When I received a notice asking if I would consider being part of the American Board, I jumped at the opportunity.  Service on this board has proven to be a great way to deepen my involvement.  It's a great group of busy and talented people, all of whom are so very commited to the continuous improvement of the organization.

Kathy Smith- Wenning  My volunteer experience with Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots took place August, 2008.  I arrived at Centro de Esperanza Infantil in Oaxaca City, Mexico with Michele Durante and Becky Cohen-two of my anthropology students from Monmouth University. We arrived for a short 
but very sweet volunteer assignment which was the culmination of an anthropology course, American Diversity. The course highlighted the immigrant experience in NJ and included tutoring ESL two evenings per week at the local public library. The majority of the ESL students were from the state of Oaxaca. The anthropology students now had the opportunity to work with children in Oaxaca

We arrived at a very busy time as CEI was admitting students for the new school year. The newly sponsored and returning students were arriving to formally register and pick up many of the needed items for sponsored children, shoes, uniforms, and school supplies.  Michele and Becky helped with these tasks. I helped translating children’s letters to sponsors and presented an educational program for parents and children on Asthma. In addition to my training in Medical Anthropology I am also a licensed Respiratory Therapist.

triggers known to cause an asthma attack...Many parents told of rocking children during a night time attack outside of the dwelling hoping the symptoms would subside. While there is an ambulance service in Oaxaca City it is unavailable for poor children and their families. Treatment would be sought usually in the morning unless a family member could find someone kind enough to drive them or lend them money for a taxi.

As a respiratory therapist I have helped to teach parents about asthma in a variety of settings, hospital, outpatient clinics, and community health fairs in the US, Costa Rica, and now Mexico. What I found was a group of dedicated family members desperate to find a solution to help treat asthma in their children or themselves. Despite poverty those attending the program have sought knowledge in order to help treat the symptoms of asthma which can include persistent coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. All would spend money for medication on children first and they, themselves last – if at all. Most of the parents at this program have had the benefit of speaking with the staff at the local hospital or clinic that took care of their children and most were aware to the substances or circumstances that might trigger an asthma attack. But…the problem explained to me by many of the parents was the fact that their living conditions made it almost impossible to control environmental

Despite the daily harsh realities of poverty and discrimination the children sponsored by Oaxaca Streechilden and Cento de Esperanza Infantil...do better than other children in Oaxaca without CEI. Their parents understand the power of knowledge which is evident in their application to this program. Children sponsored by this program are able to attend school and have access to nutritious meals each school day. A child eating nutritious food is not only better equipped to learn more during the school day but is also more likely to recover quickly from an upper respiratory or gastrointestinal infection. The parents I spoke with seek help when their children are sick and always looking for ways to improve the health of their children.