The Ojo Encino (pronounced “OH-ho en-SEE-no”) Day School lies in a remote area of north-central New Mexico. The closest landmark may well be the Continental Divide. Even the nearest post office — in Cuba, New Mexico — is almost 40 miles to the northwest.

Our affiliated project, the Ojo Encino Day School, offers impoverished children in this area nutritious meals, encouragement, and a quality education, as well as support with basic needs through our sponsorship program — all despite the closest stores being hours away.

Although situated outside of the Navajo Indian Reservation’s boundaries, this area is still very much part of the United States’ “Navajo Country.” The children who attend Ojo Encino live with their families in traditional Navajo hogans scattered throughout the spectacular but inhospitable desert. Winters here are harsh, and summers are hot and dry. Because of widespread, debilitating unemployment, area families struggle to afford even the most basic necessities as they grapple with the socioeconomic effects of poverty. Our affiliated project, the Ojo Encino Day School, offers impoverished children in this area nutritious meals, encouragement, and a quality education, as well as support with basic needs through our sponsorship program — all despite the closest stores being hours away.

Making Trips to Albuquerque

“In the Fall of 2019, I met with our coordinator, Nora, at Ojo Encino Day School,” explained Shelley Oxenham, Children Incorporated U.S. Projects Specialist.

“Nora is the school secretary, athletic director and volleyball coach — she is a busy lady! She does most of her Children Incorporated work at home in the evenings and weekends. Although there is no staff available to help her with the Children Incorporated program at the school, she does have a helper with her shopping trips.”

“Nora does most of her shopping at Walmart in Albuquerque, a three-and-a-half-hour round trip drive. She purchases clothes and shoes for the students and sometimes she purchases snacks,” said Shelley.

Challenges for Families and Children

Nora pictured with Shelley Oxenham

“She told me that most of the families get enough food stamp assistance to cover a month’s worth of groceries — but even the closest well-stocked grocery store is approximately an hour and forty-five minutes away. There is a very small grocery store in Cuba, about a thirty-minute drive, but the food is very expensive, and it is often outdated or spoiled; it is a last resort for food.”

“The majority of families live in homes equipped with water and electricity — only a few on the northwest side of the region are without water. Most children live with their parents; there are very few students in the school who are being raised by grandparents.  At most of our U.S. schools, we are hearing of more and more grandparents raising grandchildren (or even great-grandchildren) so this was quite the exception, and I was glad to hear it,” said Shelley.

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 How do I sponsor a child in the United States?

You can sponsor a child in the United States in one of three ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members; email us at sponsorship@children-inc.org; or go online to our sponsorship portal, create an account, and search for a child in the United States that is available for sponsorship.

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