CANFRO’s High School Project for Girls
in conjunction with our partner, FONDO
Lucy is a bright, personable teenager from the matrifocal subsistence agricultural community of San Marcos Tlapazola, just over an hour’s drive from Oaxaca. Villagers tend their fields, raise animals for sale in the nearby Tlacolula market, and make and sell handmade tortillas, the pre-Hispanic drink tejate, and terra cotta pottery. That’s what Lucy’s mother and aunt do. Girls begin to be groomed for marriage long before puberty, and are often pregnant and living with a man shortly thereafter.
Lucy’s mother recognized Lucy’s potential and wanted to offer her the chance for a different life. She wanted to register Lucy at COBAO, a high school system for youth who exhibit academic potential. But Lucy’s family could not afford to pay for the entrance exam, books, tuition and transportation to and from the town where COBAO was located.
CANFRO added Lucy to its High School Project for Girls and worked with Fondo Guadalupe Musalem (FONDO), a Oaxacan NGO, to provide the needed funds. Lucy was able to dedicate most of her time to her studies rather than assisting full-time with the typical family tasks.
In addition to attending school, Lucy joined other talented young women at monthly workshops held at FONDO’s Oaxaca facility. These workshops reinforced the importance of studying hard and continuing with education rather than yielding to community pressure to drop out of school and marry as a teen. Workshops also provided information and support in the areas of self-esteem, sex education, personal growth, nutrition, resisting emotional, physical and sexual abuse, and dealing with such issues in the students’ home villages. The young women learned through theatre, art, retreats, lectures and excursions. Their world opened up.
Lucy completed high school at COBAO with the highest GPA of all 152 students in her graduating class, even though she had heavily weighted her courses with mathematics and sciences. Lucy wanted to continue her education, but FONDO’s financial support ended at the completion of high school.
In 2014 CANFRO decided to include Lucy in its School Sponsorship Project. Lucy was accepted at medical schools with stellar reputations in both Oaxaca and Puebla. She currently attends medical school in Oaxaca, and is thriving – thanks to a generous family of Canadians and CANFRO.