We are so excited to introduce you to Casa Hope. Our Home of Hope. It is a home chosen, named, and run by our student leaders.
Located in Kantunilkín, Casa Hope serves as our anchoring point at the heart of the communities we work in — a safe place for students to create, grow, and serve, even in crisis. In January at the Winter Conference, Amy and Gener showed us around Casa Hope — sharing all of the amazing ways this space can and will be used to connect, equip, and serve students. What we didn’t know then was just how paramount this home would be for our community’s emergency response to COVID-19.
Casa Hope is providing space to coordinate initiatives, connectivity to remain in frequent contact with our team around the globe, and land to cultivate a community garden. We can’t wait to show you our new home — so enjoy a virtual tour of Casa Hope!
On our recent community calls, we answered questions about the emergency unfolding in Lázaro Cárdenas. Student leaders in Mexico are spearheading our response, and you can hear directly from them about the current crises facing their families and neighbors. Watch the recording now:
The last few weeks in our world have been unprecedented. And I’m writing to you with urgency and resolve as the young people we serve in Mexico face a truly terrifying, uncertain future. This is more than a public health issue. This is about survival.
In the past four weeks, the local economy of Lazaro Cardenas—the county we serve—has collapsed. The core economies of tourism and fishing exports have completely disappeared. And the supply of food and critical goods like soap, cooking oil, and toilet paper has come to a screeching halt.
This week, the incredible young leaders of Hands Offering Hope have presented us with a plan. They have told us how we can join them in creating stability and security for themselves and their neighbors in the coming months. And we want to share that plan personally with you.
Over the next two weeks, we will host three community calls where Hands Offering Hope leadership will share the important next steps we will take to respond to this crisis. Your questions, comments, and thoughts will all be welcome.
Please choose the call that best suits your schedule, and RSVP at the corresponding link below.
COVID-19 has upended all of our lives in big and small ways—and for the students and communities we serve, this global health crisis is poised to have catastrophic long-term effects.
We have been fighting for and championing these young men and women for the last 6 years. They are now in a position to lead us as we come alongside them in caring for their community.
We hope you will join one of these calls to learn how we will meet this crisis, and how you have equipped us to do it.
On behalf of the Hands Offering Hope young leaders showing us the way,
P.S. Please know that these calls will not include asking you for donations, but are an opportunity to share our plans for sustaining the health, well-being, and continued growth of our young leaders and their communities.
In Alondra’s community of Kantunilkin, resources are extremely limited. Without money to go to college in other parts of Mexico or the vision to dream up a unique path for the future, people remain stuck.
As Alondra describes it, “You just stay here. You get a job that will let you survive. Or if you’re a woman, you become a homemaker and take care of your family.”
“That’s totally a stereotype of women,” she adds, “because in reality, I know and believe that women have more potential. So I’m looking for a way that I can move forward and get past some of these challenges.”
Today, on International Women’s Day, we can help clear the way for girls like Alondra. We can help her navigate the Road Less Traveled.
I can think of no better time to support girls like her than today. Celebrate International Women’s Day by supporting women and girls in Mexico.
With your support, Alondra is choosing her own future. And she has never been one to dream small.
“My goal is to be an OBGYN. Girls my age are getting pregnant. They aren’t finishing school. I want them to know that regardless of whether they are having sex or not, they need advice and guidance. They need to know how to use contraceptives, avoid pregnancy, and take care of themselves,” she shared.
“This could change everything for young people — especially people who live in poverty or don’t have resources. They can finish school instead of having kids right away. They can move forward with dignity.”
Alondra knows what her goal is going to take: First, she has to finish high school. Then it’s on to medical school, and finally a specialization in obstetrics and gynecology. The path she has chosen requires sacrifices — trade-offs that she is already learning to make.
“Some girls I know like to go out and party. And that might be fun for awhile, but once the parties are over, they won’t have made any progress toward anything. When my friends invite me to a crazy party or something, I say, ‘No, no I can’t’ or ‘I don’t want to.’ This has caused me to lose some friends — but it’s a choice I’ve made. I’d rather spend time with a few friends or with my family.”
As Alondra pursues her vision with bravery and boldness, she is surrounded by the Hands Offering Hope community.
“Because of Hands Offering Hope, I have another family who supports me,” she said. “They aren’t going to let me fall. They believe in me.”
We get to be a part of this family. We get to join girls like Alondra on the Road Less Traveled.
Give now to open doors for remarkable young women in Mexico.
Julissa talks a million miles a minute — constantly celebrating those around her and overflowing with joy. She’s vibrant and energetic; encouraging and always smiling.
She’s also from a community that is plagued with challenges.
The region in which she lives struggles with alcoholism and addiction, has limited economic opportunities, and faces incredibly high rates of teen pregnancy. Perhaps worst of all, many people are unwilling to look beyond their circumstances. In so many ways, they’re stuck. As Julissa described, “Basically, my community is just really closed off.”
Those challenges are particularly severe for young women.
“A lot of girls my age don’t finish their studies,” she notes. “They get pregnant or they simply stop studying because they don’t have enough economic resources.”
Julissa refuses to let this be her story.
Through the Institute and the Michael Lotito Fellows Program, Julissa noted, “I’ve learned that I can finish college. I can do more.”
And what does more look like for Julissa? A very big, very bold dream for the future. “I want to be the Mexican Ambassador to another country.”
She wants to move abroad to represent her culture to the rest of the world.
“I want to travel to other countries,” she said. “It’s part of the reason I want to study languages and culture — so that I can go to other places and learn about them. I don’t want to stay closed off here.”
With incredible confidence and strength, she is choosing the Road Less Traveled.
This past summer, Julissa was awarded the inaugural Michael Lotito Scholarship — a prize that will cover her university expenses, provide her with one-on-one mentorship and support, and ensure that she can finish her education.
But she’s not stopping there.
“I hope that I can be an influence on my classmates to show them that girls can do just as much as boys. I want them to see that they can do way more than what is normally expected.”
You can open doors for young women like Julissa. You can remove barriers and ensure that they can afford to stay in school. You can walk with them on the Road Less Traveled.
Join us by making a gift today.
Here are three things you need to know about Perla:
- She’s a natural leader. During the last week of the Institute, we built a “company” to learn business and marketing skills — and Perla stepped right into the manager role. She had her team working like a well-oiled machine in no time!
- She’s an amazingly talented artist. In her words, “Painting is my passion. It’s what I love more than anything.” And she has the art to show for it.
- She’s an absolute spitfire. She has boundless energy and vision and enthusiasm. She dreams about improving her small town of Solferino, and, unsurprisingly, she has already started doing just that. (Make sure you’re following along on Facebook and Instagram this week to see the amazing project Perla just did in the local elementary school!)
But here’s what else you should know: Like so many of her peers, Perla has faced serious challenges. She has struggled with low self-esteem, and she knows what the world expects of her.
“Typically, in my community, girls go to primary school and maybe secondary school,” she said. “And then what? Sometime in secondary school, they quit. They go off with a boyfriend. And it’s sad because it’s not a good choice. They might just go with the first boy who likes them — because a lot of girls have low self-esteem. They don’t know that they are someone who could keep going. So they end up at home, taking care of the house. They get pregnant when they’re still young. They just stop. And it’s sad.”
Perla believes that there must be another way. And we’re doing everything we can to support her as she pursues the Road Less Traveled.
Perla dreams of finishing high school and going to college. She also wants to keep getting better at her art.
“I want to do both — I want to study AND paint. And when I finish school, I want to build a Cultural Center in my community. A place where kids can come try new things and create a new vision for themselves. Maybe other kids will find something they love, too. They’ll discover something good. Something helpful for their futures. They’ll learn that this isn’t the end of their road.”
Perla is choosing a brave, bold path — and we are honored to walk alongside her. Your support ensures that girls like Perla can build their self-confidence, stay in school, and craft their own narrative for their future.