In Suburban Mexico
Geography & Climate
- 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.
Most suburban adults spend their time looking for work, hoping to be employed for a day at a menial job.
Some are street vendors and others earn a meager wage as domestic help or factory workers.
More than 40 percent are unemployed.
The average daily wage is U.S.$5.50.
Children at Home
The suburbs of Mexico’s cities are, in essence, squatter settlements. Impoverished families who migrate to the cities settle illegally in unoccupied land on the outskirts, constructing shanties from scrap materials.
Often these settlements are located in undesirable locations, such as along the banks of rivers that tend to flood or on steep hillsides in constant danger of collapsing.
Because these settlements are illegal, the government provides few services, such as water, paved roads, electricity, sanitation or schools.
Typical homes in suburban communities are made of local materials such as mud, wood, brick, tin and cardboard.
The small homes are usually a mixture of rooms that double as living rooms, kitchens and bedrooms.
Issues and Concerns
- Most suburban-area families have an average of three to five children. Many are headed by single or abandoned mothers.
- The typical diet in squatter areas depends on what families can afford. Most live on rice and beans and tortilla-based dishes.
- Children often suffer from parasites, malnutrition, respiratory infections and dehydration.
- Life in squatter communities can be dangerous. Small fires spread quickly among the wood and cardboard shanties, destroying homes and lives.
- Other areas built on hills outside the city are at risk of mudslides, which can wipe out an entire community in moments.
Local Needs and Challenges
Malnutrition and illness
In addition to malnutrition, children commonly suffer from intestinal parasites and respiratory illnesses caused by the polluted environment.
Fathers often abandon their families, and single mothers are left with the responsibility of raising up to five children on their own. It is not unusual for a family to share a dwelling with other relatives to help meet expenses.
Schools and Education
- Squatter communities in Mexico have few schools.
- Since the government offers no support to these technically illegal communities, schools must be built and maintained by families who live there.
- Any schools, therefore, remain in a constant state of disrepair, with few qualified teachers.
- The average education level in suburban Mexico is sixth grade.
- An estimated 20 percent of children never attend school.
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 suburban 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 suburban Mexico, providing:
- regular nutritious meals and snacks
- health checkups and medical care as needed
- the support needed to attend school
- a loving atmosphere and safe space where children can develop healthy relationships
- training about good values and behavior
- spaces to play with peers in a healthy way, and where tutors monitor, counsel, supervise and are companions to the children
- spiritual guidance
- parental education about the importance of supporting children in their education and vocational training
- a safe haven away from gangs, drugs and alcohol and other problems in their communities