Vallarta Living | May 2008
|Children of the Dump Celebrates Ten Years of Helping the Children|
Robin Noelle - PVNN
Puerto Vallarta - Founded in 1998 as Feed the Children, the Children of the Dump project has enjoyed ten years of success in helping the children living in Puerto Vallarta's poorest neighborhood, that which surrounds the municipal dump.
At the time of the Children of the Dump's inception, there were more than 80 families with 200 children living and working in the dump. These children did not attend school; instead they worked with their families foraging for materials to sell.
The initial goal of the Children of the Dump organization was to get the children living in and near the dump into school. Later the emphasis was to keep them in school and feed them breakfast so they could concentrate on learning.
Within two years the program was feeding over 1800 children in 6 primary schools and 8 kindergartens schools surrounding the city dump. By 2001, there were no families living in the dump and no children working in the dump, thanks to organizations like Children of the Dump and the city government.
In 2000, after the crash of an Alaskan Airlines jet off the coast of California, the son of a missionary couple who were passengers and active in volunteering with the program began raising money for a community center for the Children of the Dump in his parent's memory.
Through a combined effort of many people throughout Canada, the U.S. and Mexico, the School of Champions, an after-school program just two blocks from the dump, was born. Offering free courses in math, English and computer classes, the children learn the skills necessary for securing a job in Puerto Vallarta's lucrative tourism industry. These are the skills they need to bring themselves and their families out of poverty.
The school offers morning and afternoon sessions for 250 children, grades 3-6. The Feed the Children program ensures that all children have a healthy breakfast before school; increasing concentration and better learning.
They are currently in the process of raising money for additional classrooms and expanding the program to include grades 7-9. With many of the children in Puerto Vallarta not finishing 6th grade, this program is crucial to the education of Puerto Vallarta's future work force.
In addition to the ground breaking School of Champions program, in 2003, UNICEF and the Mexican government built nine day care centers in the poor areas of Puerto Vallarta. Because of a record of service in these areas, the Children of the Dump was chosen to operate these centers. The centers are open weekdays and serve 150 children of single-parent homes, allowing their mothers to work for much needed income.
Beginning in July, 2008, the Children of the Dump is offering a free summer camp to the School of Champions students and children in the neighborhood of the dump; offering them a chance to see places in Puerto Vallarta they never would have a chance to otherwise. The camp will include art, dance, music, English, computers and swimming. More than 100 children are expected to attend.
If you would like to volunteer or make a donation to help with any of the Children of the Dump's programs, please contact Arthur Fumerton at ArthurEFumerton(at)yahoo.com.
The Children of the Dump was founded in 1998, originally as Feed the Children Vallarta. Through private donations, the program feeds more than 2,300 children daily, operates nine day care centers and an after-school program for grades 3 through 6; teaching them English, math and computers. The goal of the Children of the Dump is to ensure education through grade nine and to educate the children of Puerto Vallarta in the skills necessary to rise above poverty. To learn more about Children of the Dump's programs, click HERE or visit ChildrenOfTheDump.org.