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|In 1984 Harold and Jodi Bauman came on vacation from Missouri to the mountain valley city of Oaxaca, capital of the poor state of Oaxaca in southern Mexico. Although they were enchanted by the city’s charms including the rich culture, colonial architecture and delightful climate, they were deeply troubled by the many young children they saw working in the streets and parks selling trinkets and candy, both during school and nighttime hours. These were children from indigenous families, marginalized by the rest of society and caught in a downward spiral of poverty and hopelessness. The families came from their villages in the mountains looking for a better life, but too often ended up crowded into small one-room tin houses with dirt floors, no electricity, poor sanitation and no hope of anything better. Typically the whole family worked, including children as young as 3 years old, and tried to survive on a meagre income of 55 pesos (less than 5 Canadian dollars) per day.
In Oaxaca school attendance is free up to grade 9, but additional costs include uniforms and school supplies, tuition and textbook for grades 7 and up as well as “voluntary” fees for school maintenance – impossible obstacles for many indigenous families. The Baumans began by helping one family of Triqui Indians enroll their children in school. Each year they expanded their efforts, and ultimately founded a U.S. charity called Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots to provide receipts for donations from the U.S.
Please visit their website at oaxacastreetchildrengrassroots.org