Category Archives: Project updates

Participating in a medical campaign helps this woman build her self-esteem

In November, the ProSalud project organized a 2-day medical campaign in San Sebastián area of Los Reyes, in collaboration with some local public health workers, a group of doctors from Puebla and a team of doctors and a pharmacist from the Fellowship Bible Church of Batesville. In two days, these dedicated professionals carried out 239 medical exams, 61 dental exams, 15 optometry exams, treated 520 people for parasites and provided vaccinations and dispensed prescriptions free of charge.

campana medica- San Sebas 11-2014- 2However, medical campaigns do more than just provide low-cost, accessible health services to the slum communities where we work. They also provide a vehicle for the community to come together and organize on its own behalf. Carrying out this campaign would not have been possible without the participation of a team of community volunteers, who set up and tore down the site, volunteered space in their homes for exam rooms, signed in and prepped patients, kept records and brought food they had prepared for the visiting doctors. This gave these neighbors a chance to actively contribute to the betterment of their own community as well as develop their own servant leadership qualities.

“Josefina,” who lives in San Sebastián, struggles with self-esteem issues due to her lack of formal education. Because she cannot read or write well, she tends to feels inferior to people who have had more schooling. However she has been participating in the local Family Club and, during the campaign, staff observed that she was actively participating all day: taking vital signs, handing out patient numbers and helping to clean up afterwards. Several days later, “Josefina” commented to ProSalud staff that participating in the campaign had made her feel useful, despite the fear she has of not doing things well. She said, “I am going to keep on attending the [Family Club] workshops, so that this fear goes away.”

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ACJU launches new faith community for youth

Exciting things were happening in the ACJU Deportivo project last month! The project has impacted these youth to such a degree that several responded to an invitation to create their own small faith community in collaboration with the Comunidad Mosaico project. Staff expected to launch the group with 5 to 6 key youth leaders, but 11 ACJU participants showed up to the first meeting. In addition to creating a space where youth can re-think and rebuild their relationship with the Lord, ACJU staff will also use this time to work on developing them as leaders who will have a positive impact on other youth, their families, and the community at large.

This fledgling faith community met for the first time on October 25, and will continue to meet every other Saturday for the time being. The 11 youth who attended all committed to continue their attendance, and the idea is that over time more ACJU Deportivo participants will join in.

One of the primary topics of discussion was the importance of youth leadership. The youth talked about how important it is to change your way of thinking and not give in to peer pressure. They also discussed how important it is to follow your dreams, even if people put you down or criticize you, so that you can have a fuller, more dignified life. Some of the youth shared their dreams, along with some of the obstacles they are facing.

bible study 2One gratifying moment occurred when some of the youth expressed their desire to reproduce some of what ACJU Deportivo is doing with the project, working with youth and forming soccer schools, so that other youth from slum communities don’t fall into using drugs, alcohol and violence and are motivated to continue their education. One young man of 18 said, “I dream about being a professional soccer player. However, if that doesn’t happen for one reason or another, my other dream is to work with youth and create a soccer school like what you are doing. I want to help so that less youth get caught up in drugs.”

Another youth, 20 years old, said “I really like soccer, and I don’t know because of my age if I could think about playing professionally, but I know I want to coach youth, help them and create a project like the one you are doing here.”

At ConeXión Mosaico, we look at the lives of our participants from a holistic perspective. We do not just seek to share the Good News of spiritual liberation, while neglecting the very real issues impacting urban slum dweller’s lives. By creating youth leaders who are motivated to serve others and make positive changes in their community, we believe that people can live more dignified, abundant lives on earth here and now.

Working Together for a Miracle

At ConeXión Mosaico, we seek to develop leaders within urban slums who will become agents of change within their own neighborhoods and communities. One of the key ways we do this is through the development and implementation of community improvement projects. These community projects function as hands-on “leadership development schools” for participants, while also positively impacting the lives other community members in a very practical way.

Just recently nine citizen committees in San José Palmas, working together, carried out a community impact project to realize a seemingly impossible dream: to bring public water service to their squatter community. Now, thanks to their efforts, the municipal water company has committed to building a water tower by next summer which, when complete, will provide water to approximately 1,000 families in the area.

To find out more about how the citizen committees were able to accomplish what has amounted to nothing short of a miracle, go to a photostory about this exciting project by clicking here…

Working Together For a Miracle

Mosaic Pieces Fitting Together

It’s July and that means one thing at ConeXión Mosaico: youth and children’s summer camps! As always, we count on volunteer teams from our U.S. partner churches to make these programs happen. These energetic teams come down to spend a week or two with us, learning about the challenges of urban poverty firsthand as they spend time with the people from the communities where we work.

This year we have the largest number of U.S. volunteers we have ever had, with 51 total visitors scheduled to stay with us during the month of July. This unprecedented number of helping hands will allow us to work with multiple age groups in four different communities during the three weeks of programmed activities.

DSC00886 editGroups from Brooklyn, NY, and Lafayette, CO, will join with ConeXión Mosaico staff in working with children from 5 to 12 years old in San José Palmas and two different San Sebastián neighborhoods. Meanwhile, additional project staff will host activities for youth and women in Chimalhuacán. The U.S. teams will also help out doing construction and landscaping work on the site of our future Las Palmas community center.

While all this is going on, a team from Cambridge, MA, will be working with our Executive Director, Jean-Luc Krieg, to create a video of what is happening at ConeXión Mosaico. Lastly, a group of local ‘lucha libre’ wrestlers have agreed to donate their time and talents to stage an exhibition match on the final day of activities, an unaccustomed treat for the children and youth from these communities.

Stay tuned next month to hear about all of our exciting summer activities!

ACJU Deportivo youth make new choices on and off the field

ACJU Deportivo has been working with youth in Chimalhuacán as they attend practices at our soccer school and play against other teams. Not only have their technical skills improved, but they have gained more confidence and tactical abilities as a team. Even more importantly, these youth have shown an increased attitude of respect and teamwork towards each other. They have begun to watch their language and control their impulses more during the games. The one-on-one mentoring process has given the youth greater confidence in the team and in their own abilities, which has allowed them to compete against stronger teams more enthusiastically and without feeling so intimidated.

One of the youth who has been receiving one-on-one mentoring is Rolando, a young leader who has shown a desire to serve others. Thanks to his participation on the team, the friendships he has developed and the introspection he has gained through mentoring, Roland has become excited about the idea of going back to high school. He dropped out of school partially due to economic concerns, but also in large part because he had become involved in circles where there was a lot of drugs and alcohol. Now Rolando wants to work for a few months over the summer in order to save up enough money to be able to go back to school in the fall.

Fortaleza works to bring new educational opportunities to adults in San Sebastián

In April, Fortaleza began negotiations with the National Institute for Adult Education (INEA) to launch basic education “study circles” in different neighborhoods in San Sebastián. These classes will give people over 15 the opportunity to finish their elementary or middle school education or, in the case of those who never went to school, learn to read. Last month the project Facilitator met with teaching staff on three occasions to work out the details of the collaboration and how to recruit youth to be “local advisers.” A “local advisor” is a community member who is hired by INEA and trained to coordinate and teach the study circles. The Facilitator also went to the main INEA office at the National College of Professional Technical Education (CONALEP) to sit in on a study circle as well as a training session for newly recruited local advisers.

Fortaleza also interviewed and began the introductory servant leadership training process with Mariana, the first new INEA local adviser in San Sebastián. As a local adviser, Mariana will be in charge of the neighborhood where the Emiliano Zapata elementary school is located. So far 21 people have registered for this first study circle, with one month of registration still to go before classes begin.

ProSalud Family club members use crafting to create their own informal support group

On their own initiative, the participants from one of the most well-established ProSalud Family Clubs have organized a weekly crafting club amongst themselves. Before joining ProSalud, even though these women were neighbors, none of them really knew each other. However, as a result of interacting in their Family Club, the group has formed strong friendships which have increased their social cohesion both in and outside of ProSalud. At the crafting club, which sprang out of the women’s desire to create more opportunities for social interaction, each person shares her personal talents and abilities. For example, if one person knows how to embroidery, she will give the others a list of materials to buy and then teach the others how to embroidery.

However, the major impact on the group participants has not been the new abilities they have learned. Instead, the group has taken on the quality of an informal emotional support group. As they ostensibly come together to make crafts, participants relax, laugh, share what is going on their lives, get things off their chest and receive emotional support from the others.