The Corner Project of Malinalco: Archive news 2006-2007

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2006 was a watershed year for the Corner Project of Malinalco, with encouraging growth in all aspects of our work. Our educational development model has proved to be an increasingly effective motor for change, improving lives while building on the best of Malinalco's history and traditions.


Our team has doubled in size, with backup and coordination provided by our new administrative staff, making it possible for projects to move quickly from conception to results. Our educational exchange experiences have continued allowing us to share what we’re learning about the issues of development and migration with some wonderful people from other places, and we have benefited enormously from their contributions, ideas and energy in a process that has launched some of our best ongoing projects.

Key to this past year’s growth was financial support from individuals and foundations, beginning with a stipend from the San Carlos Foundation that allowed Corner Project coordinator Ellen Calmus to continue devoting full-time efforts to project development. Funding from the Anna Maria Brunner Fund allowed us to hire a small staff, get projects moving forward in exciting new ways and, most recently, to convert the back bedroom of an adobe house into a small office right on Malinalco’s main street.

Considering the number of families that managed to seek out our services even when this required hiking up one of Malinalco’s steepest hills to find our gate at the end of a hidden lane, we expect our new accessible location to make a world of difference in our ability to serve this community.


A grand opening . . .

 

But important as this funding has been in allowing us to develop into an organization more capable of bringing our educational development support to address this area’s most pressing needs, the Corner Project’s most important asset continues to be the active support of the very special community of Malinalco.

Here are just a few of this past year’s highlights:

Two visits from the Centro de Derechos del Migrante of Zacatecas that included a workshop for members of our municipal government to help them deal with the increasing difficulties faced by our area’s migrants and their families, and an open house at the Corner Project to provide information and legal advice for our area's former migrants and migrants’ widows.

Two educational exchange visits: one from the State University of New York-Fredonia's Study Abroad program, and a second from a group of masters students in the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley-Universidad Iberoamericana Mexico immersion program. The first gave students an on-the-ground view of the effects of globalization on agricultural communities like Malinalco (along with a piñata class taught by a group of barrio children: see the photo on our Web Links page), while the second featured interviews with members of migrants' families and a binational seminar on the challenges and promise of work with migrants and their families on both sides of the border, in which U.S. graduate students shared experiences in volunteer work with California's migrants with Malinalco's clergy and nuns working with local families of migrants to the U.S.


. . . and a new office!

 


A visit from two retired Ohio teachers and their grandchildren that provided funding which, with collaboration from Malinalco’s parish youth groups and in coordination with Malinalco’s Department of Family Development (DIF), made it possible for the Corner Project to help a blind man known as Don Pilo get the surgery he needed for the long-neglected cataracts that had obstructed his vision for the past ten years. This successful coordination brought a number of wonderful new participants into the Corner Project – and now Don Pilo can see again!

A two-part series on migration by National Public Radio’s Lourdes Garcia-Navarro, whose thoughtful approach to exploring how migration affects communities like Malinalco that are new to the migration experience endeared her to our community while earning her one of radio journalism’s most prestigious prizes, the Daniel Shorr Award.

A major donation from an English special education teacher who read an article about migrants' families in our area by James Hider for the British Sunday Telegraph and decided to fund the Corner Project's Malinalco Migrants’ Eagles workshop we'd been dreaming of setting up to train apprentice woodcarvers and develop a product for export. The workshop included a special scholarship so that Alexis Silva, the migrants' child featured in Lourdes's and James's reports, could participate as an apprentice woodcarver while receiving the counseling he needed to help him deal with trauma from the years without his parents and develop learning strategies to help him stay in school.

The beautiful carvings developed in this workshop led to a partnership with U.S. import company One World Projects aimed at developing our export capacity in order to create more jobs. Meanwhile, teachers from Alexis's school report that Alexis re-enrolled in the fall, remaining in school, and doing much better with his schoolwork after his summer with the Corner Project.


Lourdes Garcia-Navarro interviews
a Malinalco area principal

 

Inspired by the success of our summer workshop, our area school systems expressed their interest in working with us on programs to provide support to migrants’ children, proposing that we include a poll as a part of school registration that would help us assess the situation of this growing portion of our schools’ student population. Thanks to support from Mexico’s MundAmericas independent demographic research company and UNICEF-Mexico, which formed a work group with the Corner Project to study this data and its implications, we are pleased to be developing a data base with ongoing research that will not only help us address the problems of migrants’ children in our own area schools, but should also provide useful data for other school systems interested in addressing this problem.

Meanwhile, the Corner Project has continued providing crisis counseling and support to migrants’ families, while our educational resource center has continued serving neighborhood children and exploring new ways to help them benefit from their schooling. 2007 finds us a tad overworked and slightly breathless from our accelerated growth, but delighted to be discovering our potential and confident that with help from our friends, both those in Malinalco and those in other parts of Mexico and the U.S., we will continue turning challenges into sources of ideas and methods to help the community of Malinalco thrive while sharing what we learn with others.

Many thanks to all our wonderful friends! Congratulations to Lourdes, more congratulations to Don Pilo, Alexis and all the community members and visitors who have worked and studied with us, and . . . ¡Viva El Rincón!


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Alexis Silva: new skills
and new hope