This month I thought it would be interesting to re-share an abbreviated version of my article from July of 2020 and then provide a brief update on where we are today!
July 2020: An unexpected shift from education to food
In 2016 we launched a program that began by providing 72 young people in Puerto Peñasco with a path out of poverty through education. By the beginning of this year our program was thriving with my local team providing 588 students with access to educational opportunities that can help them transform their futures. Unfortunately, the COVID crisis brought all of this to a halt at the end of March. When restrictions due to COVID left an unprecedented number of locals out of work, we knew we had to respond.
My local team quickly converted our largest homework club into a distribution hub. They worked closely with the local government and health departments and began purchasing food in bulk and distributing it to families in urgent need. Meanwhile, our U.S. non-profit temporarily shifted fundraising efforts from education to food.
A tremendous show of support from both sides of the border
Since the end of March, our U.S. based Crisis Relief Fund has received more than 900 donations totaling just over $150,000. Individuals, businesses, and groups from the local community have also stepped up in so many ways.
The impact has been incredible
Funds raised have enabled my small but mighty local team to create and distribute more than 11,000 food bags throughout the community. With each bag feeding a family of four for one week, this collective effort has provided a week’s worth of food for more than 44,000 local children and adults!
The silver lining
There is no doubt that this COVID crisis has presented both of our organizations with tremendous challenges. However, a bright spot for us has been finding so many others who share our love for this community and a desire to help those in need living here. I look forward to the day when we can shift our focus from emergency food relief back to education and the 588 students we were supporting. My hope is that many of those who supported our emergency relief efforts will choose to support our efforts to provide young people in this community with a path out of poverty through education. Until then, however, our teams on both sides of the border will continue to work tirelessly to provide food for those in urgent need throughout the community.
July 2022 Update: Last August when the town finally reopened for tourism, we were able to return our focus to education. Unfortunately, however, this pandemic left more kids than ever facing unprecedented barriers to education. Without access to computers, the internet and other resources required for remote learning, so many students were not able to continue in school. Although we were all a bit overwhelmed by the challenges we now faced, my local team and I adopted the motto “WHATEVER IT TAKES’ and got to work.
I am very proud to report that today we are supporting more than 800 students. While none of us would have ever wished for this crisis, it has helped us learn and grow in so many ways and there is no doubt in my mind that we are emerging from this pandemic as a much stronger organization.
With more kids than ever struggling to stay in school, I hope you will consider making a one-time or monthly recurring donation to support our program at: www.esperanca.org/education.
A red flag became a sign that a local household was out of food.
Shifting our focus from education to emergency food distribution
We were very happy to be able to return our focus to education.