She is wishing us welcome to Mexico and also welcome to the community centre at YMCA Atizapan, in the outskirts of Mexico City. This must be one of the most modern and up to date YMCA community centres I have ever seen. State of art.
On the way there in the morning we had a relatively good traffic situation, but I did not want to replace our driver. This is a traffic that beats Paris and anything else I have experienced, maybe with exception for India’s big cities!
This part of the city is poor. Many of the houses here have no electricity nor water, and in some places two families live together in tiny small apartments, and it is not unusual for 5 people to sleep in the same bed. This is the most challenging part of Mexico City, a huge Metropol with 22 million people.
A hundred years after the first building of the YMCA in Mexico at all, this heavily invested project was finished at Atizipan, with support from many donors, both companies, foundations and more than 370 individual donors. It was a great fundraising success for YMCA Mexico.
Here the responsible for the preschool is trying to organise the welcoming committee, with Mexican flags, Brazilian flags for Romulo and World Alliance logos for Ingunn and me.
You can see that this is a top modern centre, in fact it looks so rich and modern that most people in this part of the city do not believe that it is open for them. So the staff and volunteers of the centre have to go out to find people and recruit them.
She is one of the lucky ones who has got access to this preschool. They are learning according to the most modern and updated pedagogical methods, and it seems that they are playing as they are learning, and they have no idea that they are learning very actively and very consciously.
We talked with one of the mothers, and she told us how happy she was for her daughter to attend this pre school and that her daughter had access to all these modern methods and technology, plus solid and good food every day. These kids have won in the big lottery and will have a huge advantage for their future lives.
In another part of the centre we find these ladies participating in a 2 years training for secretaries, they attended school 3 hours per day 5 days per week. There is also a psychological service at the centre, and a food distribution service.
Here Martha to the left together with one of her teachers. She has been a part of this centre since she was 10. Now she is a graduated Lideres, and gave us an eloquent presentation of her experiences at YMCA Atizipan and the activities of the Lideres programme. We were so impressed with Martha, and she is planning to study journalism and then to work for the YMCA. Good luck, Martha, I am sure you will make it!
Look at this quality and offers for the small children in the pre school!
Outside we find the ecological garden where pupils are taught about basic gardening, compost and fertilizers.
Mirda to the left is the national coordinator for the social community centres and has just started in her new job, just a few weeks ago, and then it is Martha with two of the teachers. We were served an excellent lunch there.
Here in the main hall of the centre, with all the guests and some of the hosts.
We waved goodbye and headed for the massive traffic again. It is fascinating to study the roads and the traffic systems in such a big city.
A different view of Mexico City with sky scrapers and highways.
Here we dive under the road system and take the first road to the right to enter another part of the city, we are going to visit another YMCA community centre at Naucalpan.
Recycling is in, and here a good portion of plastic and paper to be sold around the corner. We were driving behind him for a while, and it is amazing how long this cargo was able to stick to the same car.
The leaders and teachers and students of Naucalpan YMCA was lined up to welcome us, and the hospitality would not stop at this centre as well.
Here the nurse at the centre gave us a good presentation of the social and medical outreach work done by the centre. She was going through a very solid vaccination programme with hundreds of kids in the neighborhood and she had also done a lot of screening for breast cancer. She gave me a very healthy gift on behalf of all the staff at the centre. Unfortunately it does not show on this photo, but I can underline that it is very healthy.
The computer teacher told us that he is primarily running classes for kids between 3 and 5 years old, and his first objective is to take away any fear the children might have for the computer. After two years they are very familiar with a computer and ready for life in a globalized time.
The teacher responsible for the Lideres programme is also responsible for the hanging gardens. It was all about 2 liter soft drink bottles of plastic, home to exotic plants and vegetables, or just watering the garden. Compost was involved here as well, and the kids are learning agriculture, based on learning from the ecological farm in Colombia, outside Medellin, you remember a few blog posts back, from my travel to Colombia, Ecuador, Peru and Chile in November/ December?
I love this YMCA train, and my good friend Jesus Abraham from the National Office in YMCA Mexico is posing at the front of the train with one of the teachers.
This guy was sitting at my side in the class room and loved to see his own face in my camera.
The children show us puppet theater about values they learn about in the pre school, and this time it is about tolerance.
At the end of the day we have another group of young Lideres who explains us their programme which runs over many years, and then we are playing together and having a lot of fun together.
We leave Mexico behind with these shining eyes and smiling faces, a bunch of happy kids on their way to a better life, thanks to YMCA Mexico. I am so impressed with the love and care demonstrated by staff and volunteers and we leave them with warmer hearts and more dedication and commitment to this wonderful movement of YMCA. And tomorrow early morning Hector Mendez is waiting for us in Havana, and given internet of sufficient speed I will give you another update on the Blue Music Blog tomorrow night. On we go!