Related article: What Do Vallarta Kids Think About the VCEP Program?
"Go to school. Stay in school. Dream big." That is the motto of the Volcanes Community Education Project (VCEP)
VCEP is an "after-school" project that serves 400 children each day in one of the poorer districts of Puerto Vallarta - Colonia Volcanes. The program provides voluntary classes in mathematics, English, remedial reading and computers. It also has a couple of soccer teams. The kids love being there.
The Seaver Foundation evaluates children's programs around the world including the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Latin America/Mexico. They work to find out whether the programs offered to children uphold the United Nations Charter of Human Rights for Children. They do this by interviewing the children involved and, in the past five years, they have conducted many surveys, interviewing only children - no teachers and no adults. Their goal is to find out what the children think of the programs in which they participate.
• 86% of the children interviewed responded to this 'school' with a positive emotion, such as being happy, proud and inspired.
• The second most popular career choice was teacher; demonstrating the children's value of that profession.
• The VCEP children also demonstrated a good idea of what they would like to do in the future. Older children in particular demonstrated direction in their dreams. All but two of the children over the age of 14 demonstrated preferences in their future education and employment prospects.
• The most popular choice of future opportunity was to work in a professional field (94%), with groups of children opting for Doctor (6), Teacher (6), Engineer (3), Architect (3), Police (3) and Vet (3). These careers would require further studies, and by default correlate well with the desire to attend University (91%).
• The least amount of children want to work in a service role, such as cleaners and mechanics. However, 65% of children would work in this industry and individual children have dreams of being a cleaner, van driver, and gardener.
Many children in Volcanes come from homes families who are very poor. Many are single moms, some of whom are illiterate, and some children are exposed to the parents' addictions of alcohol, drugs and violence. One child said, "My Dad doesn't think I can be anything in the future." Ouch!
When asked by the Seaver staff about VCEP, 93% of the children said they feel very secure and confident in their abilities. This has translated into VCEP having 25 students in university now and 91% of their students wanting to go in the future. That is amazing!
Part of the summary of the findings made by the Seaver Foundation states "At VCEP the children feel, safe, secure, happy and loved (a safe haven), which along with dedicated, professional, and caring teachers are the elements of a very successful program."
Congratulations to all of the staff and supporters of VCEP!
BN Editor's Note: VCEP receives no funding from any level of the Mexican government. It is funded entirely by donations, scholarships and support from individuals and local businesses and organizations, including the Puerto Vallarta International Friendship Club. If you would like to give a helping hand to a child who wants a decent education you can do so by making a donation via the Volcanes Project website. For just $300 USD a year, or less than a dollar a day (tax-deductible in Canada), you can change a Mexican child's life - without changing yours.The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico, listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta AC. The majority of IFC members are English-speaking residents and visitors who volunteer their time, homes or money to help kids around the Bay of Banderas. The clubhouse is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta. Phone: 322-222-5466. Website: ifcvallarta.com Email: ifcvallarta(at)gmail.com