Remembering Mexico's Poor on Cinco de Mayo

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Posted on 5/2/2013

Cinco de Mayo has taken off in popularity worldwide in the past decade. Celebrated by millions of people around the world, Cinco de Mayo recognizes the culture and heritage of the Mexican people and marks the date of an important victory over French occupiers in 1862. Although Cinco de Mayo is typically associated with colorful parades and jubilant celebrations, it is also a good time to remember that millions of Mexican families live below the poverty line. ChildFund came to Mexico in 1955 and continues to provide essential services to Mexican families and their children.

Enduring Struggles

Mexico has the 12th-largest economy in the world but still has persistent social problems, particularly income inequality. Poverty rates are especially high in southern Mexico, where ChildFund focuses most of its efforts. The situation here is so serious that only approximately 6 percent of families in the southern part of the country have the financial means to support their children. To date, ChildFund has helped families living in more than 1,000 communities obtain better nutrition, health care and education, but many more need our help.

Access to nutritious food remains one of the most pressing problems in Mexico. According to UNICEF, approximately 16 percent of children under 5 suffered from moderate to severe stunting between 2006 and 2010, mainly due to malnutrition. To reduce the number of children suffering from malnutrition in Mexico, our Integral Nutrition Program trains health care volunteers to provide regular medical check-ups to mothers and children under 5 to ensure they are getting the nutrients and minerals they need. We also provide training and education that helps adolescents understand the importance of a balanced diet. In the areas in which we work, malnutrition rates have fallen from 45 percent to 20 percent.

Learning to Hope

Access to education is also a serious problem in Mexico's poorest communities. Although data from the World Bank indicates overall school enrollment in Mexico has improved during recent years, children living in some areas, particularly those in rural regions, often struggle to progress through the school system. To combat this problem, ChildFund worked with the Intel Corp.and the National Pedagogical University to provide children in need across Mexico with access to computer programs and hardware. Through this partnership, more than 2,000 children across the country have benefited from an enriched learning environment.

In addition, our community centers in Mexico have implemented toys and games to foster children's critical thinking skills. Children between the ages of 6 and 12 benefit greatly from these initiatives, as they learn to develop their reading, oral expression and body language skills. To further develop children's literacy and numeracy skills, our "Activate" program provides reading, writing and math instruction, enabling them to acquire the skills they need to complete their schoolwork.

Remembering the Forgotten

ChildFund has accomplished much since coming to Mexico in 1955, but there are still many children who need our help. This Cinco de Mayo, you can help us provide a brighter future to children in need across Mexico by sponsoring a child.

For about a dollar, you can help us provide food, educational support and a range of other essential services to children in some of Mexico's poorest communities. In addition, you'll be able to correspond with the child you sponsor if you wish, providing you with the chance to see how your kindness and generosity are making a difference in the life of a child.