In Urban Mexico
- Mexico is located in one of the Earth’s most dynamic tectonic areas. It is a part of the circum-Pacific “Ring of Fire” — a region of active volcanism and frequent seismic activity.
- Among its towering volcanic peaks are Citlaltépetl (18,406 feet) and the active volcano Popocatépetl (17,930 feet).
- Mexico is bounded to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean, to the east by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea, and to the southeast by Guatemala and Belize.
- Because of its vast size and topographic diversity, Mexico has a wide array of climatic conditions.
The population of Mexico has grown increasingly urban, with close to 75 percent of citizens living in cities.
Many rural and indigenous families flood to the cities desperate for work.
Urban poverty has grown worse as those living in cities work harder and earn less. In Mexico, nearly 60 percent of income among the urban poor comes from manual labor.
More than half of Mexico’s urban population lives in poverty.
Families who live in urban communities spend a much higher percentage of their income on housing and rent than those in rural areas.
About one-third of adults are unemployed, and most families struggle to survive on little more than U.S.$5 a day.
Children at Home
Families new to the city settle wherever they can, usually in poor neighborhoods on the outskirts. Children in these communities live in crowded, multifamily homes.
Grandparents are often heavily involved in the lives of their extended families. When men marry, they usually stay with their families and their wives join them.
Homes are usually built with small rooms around a common patio and a common bathroom.
The common room usually serves as the kitchen, while the other small rooms are designated for each son and his family.
Most of these homes are in crowded barrios built near a large Catholic church, and close to the neighborhood market.
Issues and Concerns
- Families in urban Mexico are often headed by single mothers who have been abandoned by their husbands.
- Few urban dwellers own property, and it’s not uncommon for three or more families to crowd into one small rental home.
- In recent years urban communities have been hit hard by political violence, rising food prices, and inadequate medical care and education, in addition to increased gang violence, alcoholism and drug abuse.
- Common health issues for children in rural Mexico include parasites, malnutrition, respiratory infections and dehydration.
- Clinics are abundant but inadequate, and few families can afford medical costs.
Local Needs and Challenges
Mexico’s overcrowded cities are hazardous places for children. The inefficiency of public waste services typically results in an environment that can lead to injury or illness.
Lack of parks and recreation facilities
While their caregivers look for work, children spend their free time on the streets, where crime, violence, drugs, and other dangers threaten their well-being.
Men often have more than one family, or they abandon their family altogether, leaving single mothers to provide for several children on their own.
Schools and Education
- While public education is available in cities, families in poverty cannot afford school uniforms, supplies or books.
- Nearly 10 percent of children in these communities will never attend school.
- Children who do not attend school often end up in backbreaking jobs in factories. Higher-level jobs that pay adequate wages are reserved for high school graduates.
Compassion Mexico works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend school, and it provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers.
At the Compassion Child Development Center
Child development centers in urban communities provide registered children with a place to learn, grow and study.
Children who have never had easy access to clean water, health care or continuing education are provided access to these necessities.
Compassion-assisted children attend health classes, tutoring sessions and Bible studies at the center. They also spend time writing to and praying for their sponsors.
What Compassion Sponsorship Provides
In partnership with local churches, Compassion is bringing real help and hope to impoverished children in urban Mexico, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- guidance for the difficult decisions children must make, such as when they have to choose right from wrong even when doing wrong implies some benefit for them
- love and care that children often cannot find at home
- biblical principles and values that encourage children to relate to others in a healthy way
- friendship and safe interactions that help children overcome their resentments
- after-school programs that keep them off the streets. In some urban centers, children come every afternoon for tutoring and homework assistance. With additional attention, children do better in school and stay in school longer.