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Melel Xojobal – educational program for children working on the streets of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico

The project will be implemented in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, in southern Mexico.

It is one of the poorest regions in the country. Statistical data from 2010 show that 75% residents of Chiapas are stricken with poverty, while 33% suffer from absolute poverty. Indigenous peoples, Mayan Tsotsil and Tseltal, are in the worst situation.

Social and economic situation in the region (no land ownership, conflicts of political and religious character, and the still visible consequences of the 1994 Zapatista Uprising) forces people from rural areas of Altos de Chiapas to migrate to the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, where they face new difficulties (lack of jobs, healthcare and education, discrimination based on ethnicity, extreme poverty). Migrants from the rural areas support themselves by working on the streets and children's salaries constitute an important part of the families' budget.

All these and other social and economic factors contribute to the growing number of children outside the school system. 2010 data show that in San Cristóbal de las Casas, 24% of Mayan children aged 5-18 do not attend any school.

Direct beneficiaries of the project will be:

  • Tsotsil and Tseltal children aged 5-13, working on the streets of  San Cristóbal de las Casas (310 children),
  • parents from the Tsotsil and Tseltal community (500 people),
  • representatives of institutions and NGOs from  San Cristóbal de las Casas and the entire Chiapas state (60 persons).

Melel Xojobal – educational program for children working on the streets of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico

Actions of the volunteers will be implemented in the following period of time: 15 July – 31 December 2014 in  San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico. The project does not include an educational component (educational initiative).

Melel Xojobal association, an organisation that has been working in favour of the respect of children's rights in Chiapas since 1997, is the project partner.

The project is implemented in the poorest region of Mexico. Direct beneficiaries of the planned measures are persons in the most difficult situation, e.g. due to their ethnicity, poverty, lack of documents entitling them to education and healthcare.

The general objective of the project is to enable Tsotsil and Tseltal girls and boys from  San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico, to complete a full cycle of education at a primary level. This objective fits in the development strategy of the city and the region, and in the mission and programme of the host organisation, Melel Xojoba, and directly refers to the Millennium Development Goals (in particular goal 2: Achieving universal primary education, and indirectly, goal 1: Eradicating extreme poverty and hunger).

Specific objectives include:

  • Encouraging children working on the streets of San Cristóbal de las Casas to enrol and complete school education.
  • Developing children's skills and talents, increasing their self-confidence and awareness of their rights.
  • Popularising information on the procedure to apply for birth certificate, encouraging parents to obtain birth certificates for their children.

Melel Xojobal – educational program for children working on the streets of San Cristóbal de las Casas in Mexico

Within the framework of the project, the assumed results were achieved:

- 145 children participated in 34 educational workshops (68 h of classes in total), 38 children started education in schools, and 88 children continued it on a higher level (33 of them received Melel Xojobal scholarships);

- 213 children took part in 49 creative workshops (108 h of classes) and gained new knowledge and abilities;

- information materials were created (500 handouts and posters in total) and distributed for free on markets and streets of San Cristobal de las Casas; three radio spots were broadcasted in local radio stations; volunteer participated in the census of children working on the streets (preparation, realization and working out of the final report), 77 children received birth certificates;

- 91 people took part in the conference for working children, organized cyclically by the Melel Xojobal Association: children and representatives of nongovernmental institutions and organizations from Chipas, who exchanged good practices and broadened their knowledge about children labor. The conference contributed to drawing attention of broad group of receivers to issues of children labor and children’s rights.

Receiving organization, which carries out long-term campaign disseminating information on birth certificate procedures and encourages parents do obtain documents for their children, had decided that the most significant purpose of the informational and promotional campaign in second half of 2014, will be getting to people, who are not interested at all in obtaining documents: parents do not have identification documents and children – birth certificates. To achieve this aim it was important to get to know the situation of children working on the streets. The census of children was organized with the cooperation of the volunteer, who later worked out gathered data and prepared final report: ”Conteo de niñas y niños trabajadores y acompañantes. Resultados preliminarios 2014. Temporada Alta”. Information, gained during the census, enabled planning of meetings with parents in the first half of 2015.