Growing up in a culture dominated by "machismo" (Mexico), where the will of the male figure is routinely imposed on women, enabled me to witness the many degrees in which a lack of education contributes towards the oppression of women and how it tends to perpetuate cycles of abuse and poverty. I also witnessed women that against all odds fought the cycle, the status quo and provided their children with opportunities they themselves never had.
My grandmother and my mother are such women. My grandmother experienced much hardship, working for years as a seamstress in sweatshop conditions to provide for her children. My Mom also had to start working at an early age and did not have the chance to get the education she desired, so she made sure my siblings and I had the opportunities she didn’t.
My childhood if full of memories of seeing abandoned, orphaned or very poor children who had to work on the streets to survive. I never could understand why I was born to loving parents when so many kids didn't have anyone to care for them. From my youngest days I wanted to do something about this because it just felt so awful and unfair. It can be said that a passion for education and the desire for equal opportunities for all people are in my blood. Ignorance, lack of knowledge or information, hurts.
My life-long desire to work with at-risk kids became a reality in 2006 when my husband and I started Aver School and held our first annual digital photo and video workshop for kids at the Esperanza Viva Youth Home (EV) in Puebla Mexico. We had visited EV several times and the children were always excited to borrow our camera and take photos. At one point I thought to myself "I'm not a professional photographer, but I do know how to turn my camera on and take a photo. That's more than the kids know so I can at least teach them that and give them the chance to have fun taking photos."
So that's my story. My dream is to help give children everywhere, specially those that don't have easy access to education, an opportunity to learn practical digital media skills, to express their view of their world, to be heard, to know that they matter and that there are people that care and advocate for them.
I envision Aver School becoming a model that can be replicated all over the world so that children everywhere can benefit. The workshops are a living testimony of what can happen when people that care collaborate, volunteer and use web 2.0 tools.
My heart feels warm with satisfaction and happiness when I see the pride and joy that the children feel when they express themselves through this medium. The inspiring stories I read on PulseWire highlight the power of digital media and the value of education. They make me more determined to continue this work.