Mexican Desserts

Mexican Desserts

Mexico Indigenous Region

The Location


The Population


The Religion

Roman Catholic

The Weather

  • Mexico’s indigenous families typically live in small, crudely constructed houses made of local materials. These homes provide little protection against the elements. Mexico Family in a Typical Indigenous Home
  • At their church-based Compassion center, children worship God with their whole hearts. Mexico Children Worshipping
  • Indigenous groups have distinctive languages, customs and dress. Their uniqueness, however, makes them easy targets for discrimination and abuse. Mexico Women Walking in the Street
  • The Compassion program curriculum helps center workers conduct activities that develop the abilities and creativity of the children in their care. Mexico Children Doing Crafts
  • In Mexico, Compassion partners with churches that serve several different indigenous groups. Their great value to God is an important lesson that each child learns. Mexico Children Eating Lunch
  • Corn tortillas, made each day by hand, are a staple in indigenous homes. Mexico Women Making Tortillas

Overview: Indigenous Mexico

Estimates show that more than 9 million indigenous people live in Mexico, which is about 10 percent of the population. The indigenous population is primarily rural and lives in communities with less than 15,000 people. Roughly 90 percent of indigenous people in Mexico live in poverty.

Approximately 62 ethnic groups make up the indigenous people of Mexico. Indigenous areas in Mexico are the most remote, and residents have little access to the rest of the country. Roads are narrow and unpaved, and the isolated indigenous tribes remain closely tied to their cultural traditions. Most have their own language and hierarchy system, and are strongly discriminated against by other Mexican citizens.

Indigenous people have, on average, a life span four years shorter than residents in the rest of the country. Twice as many infants in this people group die compared with the average in Mexico, and higher levels of anemia and stunted growth are found among this population.

The indigenous people of Mexico represent the most extreme levels of poverty. Most indigenous people rely on farming as their primary occupation. Few own their own land, and a family’s average daily income is $5. More than half are unemployed.


Culture Corner


Atole is a popular Mexican hot beverage. It is a thin porridge made from corn and flavored with cinnamon and brown sugar.


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 stick cinnamon
  • 1 cup instant corn tortilla mix (often called masa harina)
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups milk


Combine 2 cups of water with the brown sugar and cinnamon stick in a 1-quart saucepan. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved.

Combine the corn tortilla mix and 2 cups water in a 2-quart saucepan. Stir well to dissolve any lumps. Add the brown sugar syrup and cinnamon stick.

Simmer over medium-low heat until the atole is thickened, about 5 minutes, stirring constantly.

Add 2 cups of milk slowly, until you have achieved the desired thickness. Remove the cinnamon sticks and serve warm.


Life in Indigenous Mexico

Each of the 62 indigenous groups in Mexico has their own language, attire and traditions. They also are Mexico’s poorest of the poor. Living in the most remote locations, they are virtually cut off from the rest of the country. That means, outside their own small agricultural efforts, indigenous people have no way to earn income. When indigenous adults leave their communities to look for work in other locations, they suffer severe discrimination.

Even Mexico’s government does little to reach and raise the living standards of indigenous people. Few indigenous communities have passable roads, schools, or other public services such as water, electricity or sanitation. Though descended from Mexico’s proud ancestors, such as the Aztecs and Maya, indigenous people are ashamed of their identity, and children grow up feeling inferior.

Children at Home

Child development centers in indigenous communities provide registered children with a place to learn and grow. Children who have been largely discriminated against are treated as equals, and are provided a safe place to study and build friendships. 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.


Community Issues and Concerns Mexico Community

Traditionally, the areas where indigenous populations live are the most difficult to access. To get both in and out of these communities involves long walks to bus stations — and long bus rides to the city. This makes travel to the city, where hospitals and clinics are located, difficult.

Many adults must make the long journey into the city daily as they travel to find work, leaving their children home alone for hours, or even days, at a time. Those who do find work in the city are discriminated against, and are often the victims of violence.

Local Needs and Challenges

Mexico’s indigenous children are some of the most disadvantaged in the Western Hemisphere. Children in indigenous communities suffer from malnutrition, intestinal infections and respiratory infections. Also, poor sanitation and the lack of access to safe water lead to such life-threatening illnesses as cholera and typhoid. However, because of extreme poverty and the remoteness of their communities, parents can’t find medical assistance when their children get sick. Schools are also inadequate. Teachers are poorly qualified, and they visit these remote communities to conduct classes only sporadically.


Schools and Education Mexico Education

Lack of schools and teachers are among the main issues for the indigenous people. Most communities have no high schools, 20 percent of children will never attend school at all. The government has made little headway in providing better education for indigenous people, primarily because of language barriers.

Compassion Mexico works to ensure that every registered child is able to attend elementary school. It also provides additional support, including tutoring, at the child development centers. The few middle and high schools in these communities are usually satellite schools, with few classes offered.

At the Compassion Child Development Center

Child development centers in indigenous communities provide registered children with a place to learn and grow. Children who have been largely discriminated against are treated as equals, and are provided a safe place to study and build friendships.

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 the indigenous families as they struggle with a culture where children are not valued. Pray that the sponsors of indigenous children will help these children understand they are loved and valued.
  • Pray for good crops to feed the families in indigenous communities.
  • Pray for quality education in these areas so children can learn well and become successful students.
  • Pray for the Compassion center staff members as they often face cultural struggles among indigenous groups.
  • Pray that indigenous church partners will be able to teach their congregations Christian values while holding on to the rich culture of these groups.