Cities in Mexico

Cities in Mexico

Mexico Urban Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • People who move to the cities in search of a better life usually find only disappointment and hardship. Mexico Women Sitting on a Wall
  • To ensure that assisted children are on track with their physical development, they are provided regular, nutritious snacks and meals. Mexico Children Eating
  • Children in urban neighborhoods, who typically spend many unsupervised hours hanging out on the streets, are vulnerable to many dangerous influences. Mexico Boys Sitting With a Ball
  • Children at Compassion-assisted centers have the opportunity to learn computers skills, something their schools usually don’t provide. Mexico Boys Learning Computer Skills
  • Children in the Compassion program are provided their own copies of the Bible, in which they can read about God’s great love for them. Mexico Child With a Bible
  • To help make up for inadequacies in their schools, children are provided supplemental academic lessons at their Compassion centers. Mexico Children Working at Desks

Overview: Urban Regions of Mexico

The population of Mexico has grown increasingly urban, with close to 75 percent of citizens living in cities. Mexico’s capital, Mexico City, is the crowded, polluted epicenter of the country. With nearly 20 million inhabitants, it is the second-largest urban area in the world. Many rural and indigenous families flood to the cities desperate for work.

The rapid growth of cities in Mexico over the past 40 years has seriously taxed the nation’s ability to build urban infrastructure, especially housing. 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. Although these families usually have access to water and health services, they are continually plagued by illnesses such as diarrhea and acute respiratory infections, indicative of poor water quality and sanitation facilities.

While many families seek work in urban barrios (neighborhoods), few find steady jobs. About one-third of adults are unemployed, and most families struggle to survive on little more than $5 a day.

Crime and violence are high in barrios. Drug abuse and gangs are a constant threat, and many young men who drop out of school end up in these dangerous lifestyles.


Culture Corner


You can make either green or red chilaquiles depending on the tomatoes used. Green tomatoes are very popular in some places in Mexico, but red tomatoes can also be used.


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup uncooked rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups cold water
  • ½ onion
  • 1 tablespoon chicken bouillon
  • ¼ cup tomato sauce
  • 1 Roma tomato, chopped into 8 pieces
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder (or seeds crushed into powder)
  • 1 chile pepper, sliced lengthwise
  • Salt to taste


Pour the oil into a medium saucepan and heat to a medium temperature.

Add the rice and brown it in the oil while stirring.

Add the garlic when the rice is nearly browned. Add the water, then the rest of the ingredients. Mix well. Cover, with a small air escape, and turn the heat down to medium low.

Cook the rice for 20 to 30 minutes, but check after 20 to see if it is ready.

You do not need to stir the rice or lift the lid while it cooks. It is ready when the rice is fluffy, all the water is gone, and the grains are split open (because of the browning).

If it is still sauce-like rather than dry, cook a few minutes more. Adjust the spices and serve hot as a side dish with tacos, enchiladas or burritos. You can also eat this dish by itself as a snack.


Life in Urban Mexico

With nearly 20 million people, Mexico City is the second-largest city in the Western Hemisphere. Each year, the promise of job opportunities and a better lifestyle lure thousands of people from the countryside to this sprawling capital city and Mexico’s other major urban centers. However, because so many people are vying for the factory, construction and service jobs in the city, unemployment is high and wages are low.

Families new to the city settle wherever they can, usually in poor neighborhoods on the outskirts. Typically these neighborhoods have schools, paved roads, and sewage drainage as well as access to water and electricity. The quality of these services is poor, however. Also, crime, drug trafficking, and violent gang activity are common in these impoverished neighborhoods.

Children at Home

Children in urban communities in Mexico live in crowded, multifamily homes. 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.


Community Issues and Concerns Mexico Community

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. 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. Families have an average of two to four children.

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. Also, without parks and recreation facilities, children spend their free time on the streets while their mothers or siblings look for work, where crime, violence, drugs, and other dangers threaten their well-being. Instability also plagues urban families. Men often have more than one family, or they abandon their families altogether, leaving single mothers to provide for several children on their own.


Schools and Education Mexico 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 elementary 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 safe 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.


Working Through the Local Church

Compassion Mexico ministers to children in need through local churches. It is an ideal partnership because churches are known, trusted entities in their communities. They also know well the local families and the needs of their children.

Churches participate in the partnership by providing personnel to work directly with the children, as well as facilities for a child development center (classrooms, restrooms, a kitchen, etc.). Compassion, in turn, provides sponsors for the children, training to the staff, a holistic development program curriculum, and other important tools and resources. The goal is that the church – not Compassion – be seen by the community as the provider of an important ministry to its children in greatest need.

How Compassion Works in Mexico Compassion in Mexico

Compassion's work in Mexico began in 1979. Currently, more than 29,000 children participate in 174 child development centers.

Compassion partners with local churches, helping them provide Mexican children with a long-term program of physical, educational, socio-emotional and spiritual development. Through this partnership between Compassion and local churches, children in need have the opportunity to rise above their circumstances and fulfill their potential in Christ.

The Role of a Partnership Facilitator

Partnership Facilitators are the face of Compassion to the local church partners administering our child development program. Alberto García has been a Partnership Facilitator for Compassion Mexico for the past four years, and he hopes to continue in this role “for as long as God allows.”

Alberto enjoys seeing the love of God reflected in the children assisted by the Compassion centers under his care. He also enjoys getting to know and helping the partner church staff members who work hard to make their Compassion centers the best they can be.

He visits the centers at least once a month, helping the staff identify needs, be good stewards of their resources, and become excellent leaders and role models for children.


Prayer Requests

  • Pray for children as they face the challenges of growing up with little adult supervision, attention or love.
  • Pray that children in urban areas will make wise decisions in an environment where it is common to quit school, join gangs and abuse alcohol and drugs.
  • Pray that urban schools will hire well-trained teachers who can guide children out of poverty.
  • Pray that the parents of children in urban Mexico will find permanent jobs with steady incomes.
  • Pray that the Compassion center workers will be able to provide a safe, loving environment for the children.