While spending a few weeks visiting our affiliated projects in New Mexico last year, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, and U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, heard over and over that because there were so few job opportunities in the communities in and around the Navajo Nation, the parents of our sponsored and unsponsored children there often have no choice but to travel outside of town – and sometimes even to other states as far away as Colorado — to find work on farms during the harvest season.
It is not easy for parents to be away from their children; they are forced to rely on other family members, like grandparents, to help out, and to ensure that their kids get to school and are cared for. In many cases, when parents must leave town for work, their kids’ school year is interrupted by the need for them to switch to a school that has a dormitory in which they can stay during the school week. While meeting with our volunteer coordinators at two of the schools that our sponsored children attend, the Ojo Encino Day School and the Pueblo Pintado Boarding School, Renée found that they were no exception.
While visiting the school, our Volunteer Coordinator Nora told Renée that there are hardly any jobs in the community, aside from very few school administrator and school staff positions.
The Ojo Encino Day School
The Ojo Encino Day School is located in a remote area of north central New Mexico; even the nearest post office in Cuba, New Mexico is almost forty miles away. Though situated outside of the Navajo Nation’s boundaries, this area is still very much considered to be “Navajo Country.” While visiting the school, our Volunteer Coordinator, Nora, told Renée that there are hardly any jobs in the community, aside from very few school administrator and school staff positions. Many parents travel a few hours away, either to Farmington or Bloomington, for temporary work – or even farther away, to Durango, Colorado, if it’s the only option.
After they met one-on-one, Nora introduced Renée to two sponsored children in our program. First, Renée met Eleanor*, who loves having a sponsor. She is a hard-working student in the fourth grade, and Nora said that Eleanor is responsible and polite. Eleanor lives with her parents and five siblings; both parents are unemployed, and struggle to provide for their family on a limited amount of assistance. Eleanor loves school, and wants to be a teacher when she grows up.
Next, Renée met Rachel*, who is also in the fourth grade. She is a little shy, but Nora said that she pushes herself to be a good leader and peer motivator for the other students. Rachel lives with her parents and little brother; her father has a low-paying job, and her mother is a homemaker. Their small house has no electricity or running water. Nora told Renée that both girls, like all of our sponsored children at the school, are very appreciative of their sponsors. The clothing and school supplies they receive mean so much to their health and education.
The Pueblo Pintado Boarding School
After visiting the Ojo Encino Day School, Renée traveled to the Pueblo Pintado Boarding School, which is 55 miles from Cuba. The school is one of Children Incorporated’s larger affiliated projects in New Mexico, with 263 children in attendance. While at the school, our Volunteer Coordinator Cindra told Renée that the harvest season affects the number of students enrolled in the school. It increases in the fall, during the potato season, when parents are away at work, because the students can stay in the dorm there during the week.
Cindra told Renée that one of her favorite aspects of our program is seeing the joy on the kids’ faces. She mentioned a little girl named Isabel*, who is in the second grade, and who loves shoes. Every time Isabel gets a new pair, thanks to her sponsor, she is overwhelmed with happiness.
Like all the children in our program, sponsored and unsponsored kids living in New Mexico face a great deal of adversity living in poverty; and it is even more challenging when parents have to travel for work during the harvest season, which creates a whole new set of obstacles for families. Thankfully, these children have their sponsors and our volunteer coordinators to offer them support throughout the year.
*Names changed for children’s protection.
HOW DO I SPONSOR A CHILD IN NEW MEXICO?
You can sponsor a child in New Mexico in one of two ways: call our office at 1-800-538-5381 and speak with one of our staff members, or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.