NUAFA Update, Thanks Texoma Chapel & English Volunteers Needed–May 22, 2011

May is a stressful month for families here on the island of Cozumel for a number of reasons. Tourism is low. We’re in what’s called “shoulder season” between Easter holidays and before summer vacationers arrive. As a result, many people that work in jobs directly or indirectly impacted by tourism have been laid off work. Others who rely primarily on tips for income are receiving less to support their families. The HOT temperatures and lack of rain since early March also puts a stress on families who can not afford the added expense of electricity to run fans if they have them.

May is also one of the months when there are very few days of school due to local and national celebrations . . . Labor Day, Battle of Puebla (Cinco de Mayo), Cedral Festival (local week-long celebration), Mother’s Day, Children’s Day, Teacher’s Day and several others. So financially stressed families with children out of school much of the time tend to be mobile . . . searching for other relatives with whom to live or changing locations to search for work.

Like the families it supports, NUAFA, has experienced significant financial challenges but also has much to celebrate . . . here’s an update:

  • Daycare: The number of children has reduced to 14. Out of work mothers are staying home to take care of their children. Those who are working barely make ends meet at home so over 80% are not able to contribute the 20-30 pesos ($1.80 – $2.80 USD) per day they are requested to pay. There are now only two childcare workers, both whom have over 15+ years childcare experience. NUAFA’s President, Eloisa Buenfil, does not receive pay and doubles as the director and cook.
  • What a relief: NUAFA’s rent payments are caught up! Special THANKS to Texoma Chapel Ministries for providing a one-time cash donation from their mission fund for rent.
  • Sewing Classes: ~20 women continue to attend sewing classes 3 afternoons weekly. See the photo of participant (at left) with instructor, Elizabeth (right). The class has just finished learning flat pattern design and are sewing their first of 10 garments during the four month class. Projects vary depending on skill level (i.e. simple bouses, dresses, shorts, fitted jackets for two-piece special occasion outfits) and include sewing for other family members or friends.
  • NEW . . . English Classes: Friends of Cozumel volunteers are teaching English classes to 10 women participating in sewing classes. These women are such enthusiastic learners! They requested English classes so they WANT to learn and feel comfortable practice speaking because they are in a safe, supportive environment. This is a four-week long “pilot” that will conclude June 7th. We’re focusing on listening, understanding and speaking basic English by using interactive learning activities and games.

Island residents and visitors . . . We need English speaking volunteers. Could be a one hour commitment for just one day or more the weeks of May 23, 30 and June 6. Classes are at NUAFA Monday & Tuesday late afternoons. A small group meets for informal conversational English Saturdays from 8-9am. No preparation is needed . . . I have learning activities planned so just need a volunteer or two for each class to demonstrate English phrases and assist English language learners with practice speaking. Interested? Email me….Karen Pedersen

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