Communities Working Together

Screen Shot 2015-10-26 at 6.24.45 PMBy Liz Healey

In 2000, land clearing began in what is now the community of Bahia de Salchi, part of the neighboring Cuatunalco. Today there are 39 homes; 2 American and 2 Mexican owned, and the rest are Canadian, giving it the nickname, The Canadian Village.

In 2002, Yadira Canseco Fabian arrived in Cuatunalco, vowing to change education in Cuatunalco and the neighboring towns of Las Palmas, El Coyote and Tahueca. Students did not have a secondary school and travel into Pochutla was virtually impossible for their families. This meant that children in the area ended their education at grade six. Yadira began by teaching approximately 50 students between the ages of 12 and 18 under a big tree on the veranda of Cuatunalco’s Municipal Building.

Two years later, the school received its school code and other teachers were added. Meghan Wood, whose family has a house in Salchi, began to volunteer, working on her Spanish and teaching the students English. The teachers and students approached the community of Salchi and asked the homeowners if they would assist in a fundraising project to help build a school, and so began a community partnership that works together to this day.

Six years later, with several cash donations and a major fundraiser under the auspices of The Contigo School Foundation of Canada, construction began on a three classroom secondary school in Cuatunalco. The school, completed in June 2008, includes a large concrete pad between 2 buildings, an office and 2 bathrooms. After a struggle, the power has been hooked up, and school officially began in December of 2008.

A 2008 fundraiser, in Calgary, allowed the purchase of 15 computers, installation of the internet, and other needed supplies. The Montgomery Junior High in Calgary adopted the Cuatunalco Secundaria as their sister school, and under the leadership of Penny Maclauglin-Hill, a small group of students in the Bears Unbeatable Book Club fundraised to purchase supplies.

Over the following 2 years, the Montgomery students raised money for 2 very important projects. The first project was to purchase 14 bikes for the school to lend to students who lived the furthest away to get to and from school. This led Salchi homeowner, Keith Chase, to purchase a further 14 bikes so all who need them would now have a chance to use a bike, lent on a yearly basis. This became very important when San Juan Palotado, a neighborhood on Highway 200, asked to send their students to the school.

In the spring of 2011, the school director, Estoban Santos Altamirano, submitted the Bike Project to a contest for schools across Mexico to determine which school had the best school/community project. The school came 2 in the contest and was awarded $400,000.00 MX from Texas Instruments to develop a math/computer lab. The teachers spent one week in Monterrey learning to use the equipment and the lab officially opened on March 30.

For their final project, the Montgomery students raised money to help send the first area student to university, which may happen in the fall of this year. The scholarship will pay for transportation to and from Universidad del Mar, with the student having to create a one-week project to pay back the community each summer until his or her degree is completed.

For their final project, the Montgomery students raised money to help send the first area student to university, which may happen in the fall of this year. The scholarship will pay for transportation to and from Universidad del Mar, with the student having to create a one-week project to pay back the community each summer until his or her degree is completed.

All of us in Salchi understand what a privilege it is to be able to spend time in such a beautiful part of the world; we hope we can continue to work with teachers and the local residents to provide a better future for their children. If you would like more information visit: http://www.contigomex.org/

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