Almost every year, we attend a party in Baja California about an hour south of the border. It’s held at a ranch and about 150 people attend. Ten percent of the attendees are gringos and the rest are Mexicans, most of whom try to survive in abject poverty. They live in shacks without running water, sewage, or electricity except what they “pirate” from utility poles.
If el padre can find work, he might make three dollars a day. Mexico is a predominantly Roman Catholic country and birth control isn’t common in rural areas, so often families are big. Although primary school (first through sixth grades) is free, going to school isn’t because each child must wear a costly uniform and buy books. This prevents most poor parents from even sending their children to school. Junior high school (seventh through ninth grades) has tuition, book, and sometimes uniform costs. Most junior high schools are close to or in cities, but poor folks don’t live close, so any child who wants to go to school also has to pay a taxi to go to and from school for four to seven dollars a day. In rainy weather, it is almost impossible for poor children to get to school because the mud outside their homes can be a foot deep. Then there is high school, tenth through twelfth grades, which has even more expenses.
University and postgraduate schools are out of the question, so, as you have heard before, the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. This cycle drags on generation after generation, preventing the poor from ever escaping their fate.
The above is background for the real story.
Ken and Judie Kesson, world travelers and expats, lived south of Rosarito, Mexico. Over twenty years ago, they met the teacher, el maestro, of the little country school in “povertyville.” Judie asked the teacher what the greatest need was in the school. He shared that they had some very bright students with very poor parents who could not afford the uniforms and books. Ken and Judie heard this heart-wrenching story and had to act, so they went to the maestro and paid all the expenses of a third-grade girl to continue in school. This was the birth of the Baja Scholarship Foundation (BSF), now in its twentieth year.
Since then, BSF has supported over a hundred very poor Mexican children to continue their education. Remember that bright third grader who became the recipient of Ken and Judie’s generosity? She is now a medical doctor with her own practice in Ensenada, Mexico.
Why is this our favorite charity? First of all, this project has been driven by volunteers; all donations go into direct services. Next, education is the very best way to break the poverty cycle. The results are clear: over a hundred Mexican children are now well educated and have excellent jobs, and you can bet your bottom dollar that these graduates make certain that their siblings and children are well educated. There is a third reason why this is our favorite charity: BSF only supports students going to Mexican schools, thus preventing “brain drain.”
Even though BSF is not connected in any way to the church, there is no question in my mind that this charity answers the call in Matthew 25:40 where Jesus tells his followers, “As you did this [serve] to the least of these . . . you did it to me.” Maybe this is farfetched (I don’t think so), but if a hundred groups or organizations were to repeat Ken and Judie’s plan, Mexico could outgrow its cartels and corruption and be the great country that it’s destined to be. What a world it would be if people saw a need and then responded positively.
What dream project do you have in your mind to help the hurting world? Get started! Now’s the time!