By Don Caldwell
Mujeres en Cambio (Mujeres en Cambio) is in its 26th year providing scholarship assistance to girls from poor rural communities around San Miguel. The mission is to encourage bright female students to stay in school because that is the best route out of poverty.
Mujeres en Cambio President, Pakina Fernández, tells us, “25 years ago, a group of women learned that in rural families boys often continued in school while girls were sent out to work. Schooling is not free in Mexico; we found with just a little extra money some families could be persuaded to keep their girls in school. Thus, the idea of providing female students with scholarships was born.”
Starting from a small budget gleaned from donations at luncheons organized by the founders, Mujeres en Cambio has grown into what it is today. Last school year Mujeres en Cambio dispersed scholarship assistance (becas) worth 1,836,700 pesos.
Current Scholarship Chair, Donna Challancin, is proud of what Mujeres en Cambio has become. She says, “Today we are assisting 177 students. With help from teachers we pick the most deserving students from the second year of secundaria (eighth grade). We help them through High School graduation and on to University. This year we are proud to have helped 122 students in secundaria and prepa and 55 in University.”
Mujeres en Cambio has much to be proud of. Their students continue to excel in their classes. Two university students have gone on to graduate programs. Seventy-three percent of students have a 9.0-point average or better while 86 percent of grade school students have 8.5 or better. To be eligible for scholarship assistance, students require 8.0-point for secundaria and prepa and 8.5 for university.
Many students have serious challenges when it comes to transportation and communication. WiFi is not available in all communities. Some have long commutes to their schools. With the pandemic, planned beca distributions had to be delayed until August after communication could be established and health protocols put in place.
Treasurer Rhea Calkins shares the pride. She says, “We are very happy to see our students overcome these many obstacles and for Mujeres en Cambio to be there to support them. We are revamping our methodologies and rest assured, we will find ways to get our students their money. This year we helped graduate 33 high school and 17 university students. Despite Covid-19, Mujeres en Cambio students are continuing their education. We are so proud of our girls.”
Most students come from large families with little education. Their parents are mostly laborers and maids. Forty percent of the high school and 88 percent of the university graduates are “A” students. Please join Mujeres en Cambio in congratulating these exceptional students.
Mujeres en Cambio is an all-volunteer charity which helps it keep administrative overhead low. Over 90 cents of every donated dollar goes directly to the students. To learn more about the graduates, or to donate to this noble cause, please visit mujeresencambio.org/our-graduates/