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May 2021

Dear Friends and Sponsors,

As Spring gets undeway, we are grateful for your continued support of Mission Teaching Foundation. Currently, there are 63 students in the Yashalum Program: 11 high school girls, 24 high school boys and 28 university students (18 young men and 10 young women). We are also grateful for what seems to be a light at the end of the tunnel regarding COVID-19 which has placed undue burden on the already-difficult lives of our students. For this newsletter, we’d like to include letters from two of our high school students that illustrate this.

My name is Vianny Isela Jimenez Velazco. I’m 16 yers old, and I attend public high school in Yajalon, Chiapas. I am from the community of Joshil in the municipality of Tumbala, where my family still lives. Because there is no school in our community, I have to travel to Yajalon to attend school. My parents cannot afford the cost of an education, so I have lived at Casa Santa Maria for two years. I’ve been very happy there because people care for me, and I have formed many friendships with other girls from different communities who also live there.

Because of COVID-19, all of our classes have gone online. When I go home on the weekends, I have to spend a lot of time online in order to complete my classwork. This has caused problems with my father. The internet costs money, and he thinks there are better ways for me to spend my time, so he wants me to quit school. I want to continue to study in order to complete high school.
I have talked to my mother and my grandmother about this, and they have spoken with my father. For now, this is how it is. I only hope that things improve because I don’t
like living like this.

- - - - - -

My name is Jose Alfredo Jimenez Mendez. I am originally from Venecia, a town in the municipality of Yajalon, Chiapas. I was born on September 1, 2004, and I speak both Spanish and the indigenous language, Tzeltal. My father is Carlos Jimenez Casteneda and I have an older brother named Gerardo.

On September 19, 2010, my mother passed away, so our family consists of just the three of us. I was 5 years old when my mother died, and so for all these years, my father has been a single parent, solely responsible for my brother and me. Living at Rancho Santiago Apostol has allowed me to continue my studies, and I’m now completing my second year of high school.

However, sadly, I have begun having symptoms of epilepsy and am undergoing medical treatment. This has placed a tremendous burden on our family which has few resources. My brother is about to return from the university because we can’t afford to pay for education nor for my medical treatments. I am being treated by indigenous doctors and getting help from medical students, and lately I have been feeling better. But things can and do change. This is a bit of what my current situation is.

Vianny and Jose are not alone. All 63 of our current students lead equally challenging lives. What’s most amazing is their ability to confront those challenges in their efforts to continue their education. We - and they - couldn’t do this without you!

In Gratitude
The Staff of Mission Teaching Foundation


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