By Don Caldwell
Mujeres en Cambio (MeC) scholarships offer an opportunity for a better future for the young women we assist. It starts them on a radically different life path from that of their parents. Our graduates’ successes also help set an example in their communities.
COVID-19 has dealt us a mighty blow. Pandemic protocols imposed this year have made our in-person fundraisers impossible. Undaunted, we are now looking for and finding innovative ways to raise funds for our young women. One such way is to offer virtual events. Our first one was a holiday dessert cooking class hosted by chef and culinary educator David Jahnke, streamed on Zoom Dec. 15.
Chef Jahnke is loved in San Miguel and was doing many cooking classes in his home prior to the pandemic. With the lockdown, he is doing classes online, still providing his expertise and guidance to home cooks. He agreed to do this Zoom class as a fundraising event for MeC, donating his time to our great cause.
Chris Yannitelli, MeC events Chair, said, “We are so thankful to Chef Jahnke for offering his class. He generously taught the Zoom class for us, while donating all the money raised to the Mujeres en Cambio scholarship fund. Stay tuned for more online events in 2021.”
Our mission at MeC has always been to help women from rural communities around San Miguel. Our founders talked with mothers in these poor communities to get their advice. These mothers, combined with a myriad of research world-wide then and since, supported the idea that the most effective way to help in the long term would be to assist with the education of their daughters. Kofi Annan famously said, “to educate girls is to reduce poverty.”
The development of a scholarship program in 1995 allowed MeC founding members to identify qualified students who would not be able to continue their studies without assistance. School is not free in Mexico past sixth grade. An MeC scholarship is designed to provide enough assistance to persuade a family to keep their daughter in school. Once in our program, many go on to graduate school—a ten-year commitment from MeC.
In that first year, more than 25 years ago, eight girls joined the program. Today we have 169 girls from 43 different villages around San Miguel and have disbursed close to 1,564,000 pesos (US$78,200) in scholarship assistance. Most of the girls come from large families whose parents never went to high school. Our assistance changes a young girl’s life and allows her to dream. You can be a part of that dream by helping us raise more money.