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Via International: Women, Poverty and Education

Via International: Women, Poverty and Education in Mexico

Tijuana, Mexico - known as the line, the border, and the frontier–a city acclaimed to be the busiest border crossing in the world. A city infamous for it’s night clubs, drug and sex trade. A city where one can experience the stark contrast between affluence and poverty - the north and south within a matter of thee minutes --- A city bursting with migrant Mexicans that arrive daily searching for work at the international factories that clutter the hill-sides or looking for the chance to slip into the USA in search for a better life. New communities emerge in unimaginable steep arid canyons that will likely not enjoy the comforts of basic services for many years to come. Yet amidst what appears to newcomers as desperate conditions, are communities vibrant and alive with an inexorable desire to create a new future on the frontier. Leading the charge for community infrastructure, inclusive public health policy and practice, access to education and progressive environmental initiatives are a cadre of women who are volunteering for a myriad of organizations. They are called promotoras comunitarias or community leaders; women who share the same life circumstances as their neighbors yet work tirelessly for community change.

As of January of this year 220 of these women completed a community based education program in four remote sites in the colonias of Tijuana and in Mexicali. The women come from different NGOs serving the Tijuana and Mexicali communities. Their ages range between 25 years to 70 years of age, the mean is around 40. Their level of completed formal education ranges between grade 3 and 12 in school.

The majority of those admitted have completed the primary education requirement, and they then are enrolled in the INEA (Adult Education/Literacy) to complete their middle school education. We anticipate another 100 people will be eligible to join the program this year. We see the excess demand as very positive because it reaffirms the need for the program but at the same time creates some stresses on it.

The main purpose of our program is to bridge basic education to higher education. The program also contributes to the personal and social development of community promoters. With this in mind, the guiding principle in this process is to provide them with appropriate methodological tools whereby their activities as promotoras will encourage community development through engaged participation.

The methodology at the center of this process consists of a model of community participation that will provide the promoters with the necessary tools for planning and implementing community-based programs.
This methodology is carried out in four (4) levels, which form the curricula of the program. To complement and enrich this process, four academic areas are integrated into it: Basic Skills, Human and Social Development, Professional Development and, Complementary Knowledge. The point of intersection between the general methodology and the specific academic areas is to be found in community practice in which the student is already involved as a community promoter. From all of the above, this educational model for adult women with experience as community promoters has a goal to create a bridge between non-formal and formal education at the secondary school level.

One of the graduates who has secured full time employment for the first time in her life with an NGO stated:

“I think that all of us are like little box that contains a lot of treasures, a little box
that contains many things that we can offer. But if the box is closed those treasures
will not come out. The beauty is to open those treasure boxes we carry inside and
share them with those around us, share all the experiences and knowledge we
carry inside.” ~ Maria de los Angeles Luna

The Education and Formation of Community Promotoras won the Canadian International Development Agency Award for Excellence in Development for 2007-2010.

Respectfully submitted by Elisa Sabatini, Executive Director of Via International ~ Los Niños

Mission: Via International’s mission is to improve the quality of life by creating opportunities for people to discover their human potential through participation in the development of the community.



gkimball's picture

global youth book

Dear Ecas, hola. I have these questions in Spanish.....
Hello. I’m writing a book about global youth viewpoints and would be very appreciative of your help getting these questions to young people 19 and younger who would like to be part of my book. I have translations of the questions in various languages. Thanks, Gayle

Greetings from California. I'm writing a book that gives you and other young people around the world an opportunity to say what's on your mind. This is your chance to be heard. Many of you have wonderful suggestions for how to make our world a better to live in, so I'm asking people age 19 and under to respond to 10 questions. I’ll compare your answers by age, gender, and location.
See for the questions and photos of schools and students I’ve visited on three continents. Also see
(I’ve written other peer-based books for youth, including The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide and How to Survive Your Parents’ Divorce: Kids’ Advice to Kids.) Please also forward to kids and their teachers so they can be part of the global youth book.
Thanks, Gayle Kimball, Ph.D.

1. If you could ask a question of the wisest person in the world,
what would you ask her or him about life?
2. What bothers you in your daily life? What practice best helps you stay calm?
3. If there was one thing you could change about adults, what
would it be?
4. What would you like to change about yourself?
5. What do you like to do for fun?
6. When have you felt most loved by someone else?
7. Why do you think you’re here on earth; what’s your purpose?
8. On a scale of 1 to 100, how highly would you grade your
school? Why?
9. What work would you like to do when you're an adult?
10. If you were the leader of your country, what changes would you make?
11. Imagine you get to write on a T-shirt going on a trip around the world. What do you want your T-mail to say to people?

What questions are missing that you’d like to answer? Your email. . . . . . .
What first name would you like used in the book to quote you?
How old are you?
Girl or boy?
What city and country do you live in?
Gracias! Merci! Danke! Arrigato! Chi chi!

> > > > >Previous Books:
> > > > > Essential Energy Tools book and 3 videos.
> > > > > 21st Century Families: Blueprints for Family-Friendly Workplaces,
Schools and Governments. (Equality Press)
> > > > > How to Create Your Ideal Workplace (Equality Press)
> > > > > The Teen Trip: The Complete Resource Guide (Equality Press)
> > > > > 50/50 Parenting (Lexington Books)
> > > > > 50/50 Marriage (Beacon Press)
> > > > > ed. Everything You Need to Know to Succeed After College (Equality
> > > > > How to Survive Your Parents' Divorce (Equality Press)
> > > > > ed. Women's Culture (Scarecrow Press)
ÿ > > > > Ed. Women's Culture Revisited. (Scarecrow Press, 2005)

Katie McDonald's picture

Great work

Hello Ecas,

Thanks for sharing with us more of the work done by Via International. Your mission to improve quality of life by creating opportunities for people to discover their own potential resonates with me. I really like how you focus on the side of communities that is 'vibrant and alive', and how you support those women who 'work tirelessly for community change'.

Best wishes,


michellee's picture

community development


I am excited by your program and your commitment to developing paths for self-reliance in our interdependent world. We are living in an era that is so desperate for strong local communities to stand up and demand improvements in our world and we need more practical ways to strengthen these communities. I salute Via International's efforts to do just that. Best of luck in everything you do.

Be well,

World Pulse Technology Associate

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