News & Updates

We hope you enjoy this latest newsletter as it includes more stories about how your donations are making a difference in the rural villages around San Miguel.

                                            October 2021

BRIGHT [LIGHT] STORIES MAKE SUPPORTERS PROUD

The past two years have been most challenging for everyone. And yet there are these brilliant flashes of light. Hernan Salinas and his daughters are just some of these highlights. Mr. Salinas never went beyond junior high and has worked his entire life at any job he could find; but he knew he wanted more, much more for his children. The oldest, Maria de la Cruz, completed university through a Mujeres en Cambio scholarship and is now an engineer working for a German company. The second, Marcela, is currently studying graphic design in her second year at university, also through a Mujeres en Cambio scholarship. Hernan, a man born into a society that usually relegates women to the role of housewife and mother, somehow knew that his girls deserve better. And we fully agree! The Salinas family story is just one of many that the volunteers at Mujeres en Cambio come across that make us happy and proud. We want our donors to share this pride because it is you that allow us to continue this important work. 

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Guadalupe Salazar

MORE GOOD NEWS STORIES FROM THE CAMPO

Take Guadalupe Salazar who will be graduating from the University of Leon with a degree in organizational development. 

She has been with Mujeres en Cambio ever since junior high when she found out about what we do and took the initiative to approach Pakina Fernandez and ask for help. Her grades were outstanding and her motivation to study as well, and she was given the help she needed to complete her university degree. 

Her path has not been easy; she had to take a year off schooling due to sickness in her family, but she returned and persevered. She is the youngest in the family and the first to go to university; her entire family is very proud. Their support for her education was a key factor in the Mujeres en Cambio decision to welcome her into our program.

Marisol Lopez Gonzalez

Meet Marisol Lopez Gonzalez, a bright, outspoken young woman who is in her first year of Industrial Engineering. 

She came to us in junior high, like most of our girls. She was encouraged by her sister who received a degree in tourism with support from Mujeres en Cambio and who is now plying her skills at one of the major events venues in San Miguel. 

We asked Marisol why she chose industrial engineering as a career. Like a proper engineer, she marked off the reasons why. Ever since she was a little girl, she had always loved numbers and her mother’s cousin, (she happens to be an engineer), became her mentor. She also heard that there were many job opportunities in the field. She thinks that Polygono Industrial, an industrial park just outside San Miguel, will allow her to find a good job near her home. As the youngest of nine children, she sees herself as the one paving the way to a brighter future and the potential to help her entire family.

PRESIDENT’S REPORT

Hi everyone! We have a lot of good things happening at Mujeres en Cambio. You, our faithful supporters, continue to demonstrate your passion for our mission. We have not yet reached our budget goal, but we are on our way. Congratulations! Please keep playin’ that tune.

We were shaken when our Scholarship Chair announced she was moving to Morocco. Go figure. But we got lucky because Barbara answered our plea and has taken over with flair. What a gem she is. She, Pakina and I, visited the 7 telesecundaria schools which we work with and who recommend the new village girls for our program. The teachers stepped up, so we have 21 fresh faces. They and their families probably do not yet realize what a ride they are in for! It will be something for all of us to watch with pride.

Not exactly good news but worth a mention. We have to change our status and become a Donataria Autorisada. We will have to incur some unexpected legal expenses to comply. The good part is that we will avoid getting taxed at 30%. Not kidding. It is part of the government’s wish to track money more carefully.

More magic! A new IT guy answered our plea on FB. Isaac has a real job managing databases for a large company. But he has kindly offered us some of his time. Together with Karen they are taking us to the next level so we can better track our students and our donors. Yes, we are watching you! But we also track our students’ grades and the cash—your cash. Much can be automated and that is what our IT guy is helping with.

At the September 2021 beca (scholarship) distribution.
L to R: Dennis Taylor, volunteer, René Gignac and Natalie Taylor.

We have a new treasurer too. Dennis has been working his way into the job in the last few months. You want us to spend your money wisely. So does Dennis! Rene, another new face with a background in accounting, looks over his shoulder just to be sure.

We are planning a major fundraising blitz around Giving Tuesday at the end of November. Our policy is to strongly remind you just two times per year, first in June/July and again in the Fall. We do not want you to feel like we are constantly hounding you. We are very grateful for your support. One thing that you might consider is what many supporters do. Set up a monthly donation plan. You can do that on our Website from the DONOR page here: https://mujeresencambio.org/donations/.

Regularly scheduled donations also help us to budget with more certainty.

For fundraising events we have a couple more exciting on-line events planned for this year and we will let you know about them when the details are finalized. We are also hopeful that we will be able to finally have at least one in-person fundraiser luncheon before year end. Things have opened up in San Miguel and I have had several requests from supporters to get these get-togethers going again. It is nice to know we are missed.

We had our fourth scholarship distribution last month and our new team responsible for that got it done with panache. As mentioned, we have 21 new recruits to the program. Twenty of these young girls were chosen from the second year of Secundaria, 8th grade equivalent. One of them came specially recommended from the first year of Secundaria—a 12-year-old girl from a poor village close to Atotonilco. We introduced our team to the girls and gave them each an induction certificate and small gift to welcome them to the program.

Altogether now we have 170 active students in our program: 39 secundaria, 75 preparatoria and 56 university. At the most recent scholarship distribution we delivered scholarships to 97 secundaria and prepatoria girls and 56 university girls for a total of 407,500 pesos—a little over $20,000 USD.

Donor alert! We are an all-volunteer organization. Sans volunteers, Mujeres en Cambio does not exist. Some volunteers have been with us forever; others are brand new like some I mentioned above. At a retreat last month most of us gathered at Pakina’s ranch to celebrate our good fortune, success and hard work. We had an idyllic afternoon with great camaraderie, food, and drink. You have a great team working for you and our girls. I am honored to be a part of it.

Donald Caldwell

Stephanie and Marely

Then we have Stephanie Luna and Marely Olalde who have been fast friends since Kindergarten. Both are from a village near Alcocer where they attend school. The girls are especially close and spend a lot of time together; they also share dreams of moving ahead in life, in surpassing everyone around them. Both of them have worked hard in school and have excelled with their grades. This combined with their family’s support and their teacher’s recommendation made them ideal candidates for the Mujeres en Cambio scholarship assistance. These best friends are receiving the support needed to finish high school and go on to college. Stephanie has her sights on a career in science; she wants to be a doctor. Marely, on the other hand, is turning in a different direction; she wants to be a lawyer. 

WE ARE ENVIRONMENTALLY FRIENDLY

Finally, we thought you might like to take a quick look at this little video brought to you by one of our sister organizations on a similar mission. Enjoy!

Educate Girls, Protect Our World

A basket of lemons, a gift of gratitude

GRATITUDE

Finally, we have the statements of gratitude that make us smile and often bring tears to the eyes. At our recent scholarship distribution one of the mothers brought us a basket of lemons from her garden. Also, at the latest scholarship distributions, Gregoria Villafuerte Bustamante traveled all the way to San Miguel from her small village near Cerritos to thank us for the scholarships her daughters are receiving. It was hard to keep from crying as she told her story of hardship. She and her husband work at menial jobs (neither of them went beyond junior high) to support their four daughters. Ten years ago, Gregoria was cleaning the roof on their house and fell, landing on her head. She is lucky, she says, to have survived, but she has many symptoms and has been left with less than fifty percent capacity physically and mentally. Her incapacity has left the family dependent on the work of her husband. Tears came to her eyes as she told us how her daughters wanted to stay by her and help at home, but she insisted on their continued education. Her daughter Elizabeth is now graduating in Industrial Engineering and was present to receive her final stipend. The youngest is now in high school and is very motivated; she wants to become a lawyer or a psychologist.

We Can Use Your Help

We are an all-volunteer organization and are always excited when a new member wants to join us. We are constantly on the lookout for volunteers willing to spend part of their time helping young women get an education. Mujeres en Cambio is a great place to work, and these are specific areas where we currently need help. Contact Don Caldwell at President@mujeresencambio.org

  • We need volunteers fluent in Spanish who can help us search for grants available from the Mexican government and Mexican-based philanthropic organizations.
  • We need volunteers fluent in Spanish who can help us provide our graduating high school students and university students with information on assistance programs, other than that from Mujeres en Cambio.
  • We need a volunteer, or volunteers, with experience in social media platforms such as Facebook to help prepare content that tells our story, updates our events and activities, and generally promotes our presence on these platforms.
  • We need volunteers with good Spanish language skills who can help our high school and university students navigate career possibilities. 
  • We need volunteers willing to give their time to help us in every other aspect of our organization. Just come on board, we’ll find cool things for you to do!

TAKE A LONG LOOK AT OUR NEW AND EVER-CHANGING WEBSITE

We are very proud of our new and improved web page. Rhonda, our talented webmaster, keeps a wealth of information under tabs and does the fancy infographics and design. You can find such things as our latest annual report with financials, our history, profiles on recent graduates, and much more. Have a look here: mujeresencambio.org

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DO NOT FORGET TO LIKE OUR FACEBOOK PAGE

If you are a Facebook user, you can keep up to date on all things Mujeres by linking to our Facebook page.
Just click here https://www.facebook.com/mujeres.sma
If you “like” our page, you will be notified whenever we post anything new. And we do post quite regularly with news we think our donors might find interesting.

Who We Are

Want a look at who handles all the small (and large) details at Mujeres en Cambio? It is a pleasure to introduce you to these special people who give their time so generously to our mission. We are very proud of our entire team!

Don Caldwell – President

Pakina Fernandez – Vice President and Founder 

Dennis Taylor – Treasurer 

Nancy Row – Secretary 

Barbara Salazar – Scholarship Chair

Christine Yanitelli – Events Chair

Jo Cartwright – Assistant Events Chair

Natalie Taylor – Communications Chair

Georgeann Johnson – Member at Large and Founder

Stephen Bresolin – Member at Large and Amistad Representative

Charlotte Bell – Rug Hook Project 

Rhonda Lerner – Webmaster, Graphics Design, and Facebook

Rene Gignac – Auditor 

Fernando Isaac Mendoza – IT Guy

Karen Moon – Policy and Processes 

Jan Davis – Grant Research