street kids in Mexico City
Ednica is an
Children in Mexico city, if they are in a state school, go to school for half a day. This is because the schools work in shifts – some kids go in the morning and some go in the afternoon. There are simply too many children and too few schools and teachers. As an aside, this is one of the places in the world that is developing “mobile learning” through a project called Mati-Tec in which children can learn on mobile phones. Ednica, like Mati-tec, seeks to support children’s learning outside the classroom and in the case of Ednica, it is a high-touch, low-tech approach.
Many children, from the ages of 5 and upward, work when not at school. They sell packages of gum in the street, they deliver things, they work in their parents shops or market stalls, they accompany their parents when they work, selling things, in the street. Some of the families have somewhere to live, others live in the backs of lorries or busses. The children are often not clean, don’t have clean clothes and are terribly under nourished. This is a country where clean drinking water does not come out of a tap and it is cheaper to buy Coke than it is to buy water. It is completely normal to see two and three year old babies sucking on a bottle of coke. Many lose their baby teeth before their adult teeth are even formed.
The level of education about non traditional subjects such as nutrition, managing hostile police officers, knowing what to do when my father is beating up my mother is non existent and this, among other things, is where Ednica comes in. Pioneers and advocates of the Rights of the Child, Ednica teaches the children self respect and standing up to abusive authority figures, as well as kindness and tolerance, table manners, hygiene, and school subjects. Children who go to school in the morning can go to Ednica in the afternoon and vice versa. Parents can come and use the washing machines, families can use the showers and little cups with little tooth brushes cover the tables outside the bath rooms. Ednica works closely with families: it has to: most children come from large families and their economic contribution is necessary. Ednica has to convince the parents to let their children attend the centres rather than work. Part of the bargain is access to facilities. Another part is one hot meal per day – which is about the equivalent of what a child would earn working when not at school.
Virtuous bread is proud that we will be working with Ednica. The plan is to teach the parents by working with the children – baking simple bread, making pizzas with wholesome ingredients, talking about nutrition in a low key way and getting the children to try new foods that don’t have sugar, salt, or preservatives so they develop a taste for healthy food and an understanding of why it is important and how to prepare it. Who knows, maybe there are Bread Angels among the parents and so we can also help some of them support themselves by baking. We have just begun and we will keep you up to date.