The Tihueliske Community Education and Nutrition Program helps young children living in acute poverty to gain skills for life in Tlamacazapa, Mexico. Each week children learn to read, write and do basic math by working in small groups. They develop better abilities to handle relationships and to problem-solve. The program strengthens a culture of reading among families and prepares children to tackle serious local social and environmental problems in future.
The Nahua villagers earn a meager living by weaving palm baskets and selling them to tourists throughout Mexico. Laboratory studies revealed toxic metals in their water, soil, palm dyes and clay cooking pots. These toxins produce a silent crisis of slow poisoning. Many children are undernourished, suffering from low levels of chronic toxicity, and often do poorly in school. The majority of adult women are illiterate. Macho male attitudes, alcoholism and domestic violence seriously affect daily life.
Young children learn through play and small group work in the Atzin Centre, taught by young women trained as educators. Starting in 2016, the educators offer early stimulation classes three afternoons per week to children 2-5 years old. Since 2006, children 6 to 13 years who are out of school attend classes four mornings per week, learning to read and write and gaining abilities in cooperation and healthy relationships. Other children enrolled in primary school receive tutoring three afternoons each week.
The program helps children to develop skills for life. The children grow in confidence with better abilities to handle conflict, build relationships and to problem-solve. They learn to read, write and do basic math. Many subsequently enroll in primary school or challenge government literacy tests. Overall, the program effectively supports a new culture of reading in the village and prepares young people to tackle serious social and environmental problems in future.