Tag Archives: new mexico

A New Home for a Family in Need

The town of Newcomb is situated in the Navajo Nation, amid the incredible desert background of northwestern New Mexico. For many of the small number of residents that live in the town – less than 400, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – there is little opportunity for steady employment. A trading post, which includes an impressive Navajo artifact museum, and a fish hatchery are some of the only options for work. Due to a lack of jobs, many families are living in poverty, and struggle to provide for their children.

A special donor offers his support

sponsor a child in need in New Mexico

Students recieve basic needs they would otherwise go without, thanks to their sponsors.

Funded by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, Tohaali’ – which means “where the water flows out” in Navajo, named for a nearby creek – has approximately 130 students in kindergarten through the eighth grade. Thirty of those students live in a dormitory on campus during the school week. Since the school is not close to any of its surrounding communities, many families have to travel quite a distance to take their kids there. On a recent trip to visit the Tohaali’ Community School, U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, met with our Volunteer Coordinator Cecelia. Cecelia told Shelley that one of the schools’ families doesn’t have a vehicle; so after every weekend, the parents walk with their kids for the four miles it takes to get to the dormitory.

Cecelia explained to Shelley that the Children Incorporated program is very important for students, because it helps to provide them with food, warm clothing, shoes, school supplies, and hygiene items – things that their parents can’t afford to purchase for them. Beyond helping our sponsored children on a monthly basis, Cecelia was also able to rely on Children Incorporated when an emergency arose a few years ago.

Our Sponsorship Manager Steven Mitchell acted quickly, and contacted a very special donor who contributed $5,000 to purchase a trailer for the family.

She recalled a special circumstance in which a family suddenly became homeless. Cecelia called our office to see if we might be able to help. Our Sponsorship Manager Steven Mitchell acted quickly, and contacted a very special donor who contributed $5,000 to purchase a trailer for the family. When the family saw the trailer, they couldn’t believe their eyes; they felt so overwhelmed to find that they did have a home after all – after having gone through such a terrible ordeal in losing their previous residence, and having had nowhere to go.

Shopping is the hardest part

Before Shelley left the school, Cecelia explained that the hardest part for her is doing the shopping, because the closest town with a decent store is Farmington, which is a little over an hour away. Our sponsored children’s parents try to meet Cecelia at the mall to spend two to three hours shopping there, making sure to get exactly what their children need in the correct sizes; but transportation is a barrier for many families, so there are many times when Cecelia does the shopping herself. Regardless, Cecelia is incredibly grateful for the support the children get from their sponsors, and she knows that without it, they would often go without basic essentials in their lives.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Isolated from the World

The Na’ Neelzhiin Ji Olta’ Community School is located outside of the vast Navajo Nation in New Mexico, in a remote area of the state. The nearest post office, in Cuba, New Mexico, is thirty miles away. As a result, the school, which serves children from kindergarten through the eighth grade, is incredibly important for the families that live in the nearby communities – families who otherwise might not have a way to get their children to and from a school even farther away. Having actually been constructed by the people of the community with materials supplied by the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the school stands as a testimony to the determination of these Navajo families to see their children receive a good education.

Transferring schools is not ideal

Our Volunteer Coorindator Twilia with one of our sponsored children

Many of the residents in this region of New Mexico, where the unemployment rate is high, are living in poverty. Nearly all of the children enrolled at Na’ Neelzhiin Ji Olta’ Community School come from families too poor to afford even the most basic essentials, such as food and clothing, for their young ones. On a trip to visit the school, U.S. Programs Director, Renée Kube, met with our Volunteer Coordinator Twilia. Twilia’s background is in business management, and she is naturally meticulous in her work with the Children Incorporated program. When Renée me her, Twilia was warm and welcoming, and eager to discuss the community.

Twilia explained to Renée that there are often transfers of students between the Na’ Neelzhiin Ji Olta’ Community School and Pueblo Pintado Boarding School during the school year. Both schools are in the vicinity of Cuba, but they’re many miles away from it. The reason for the transfers is that Pueblo Pintado, which is also one of our affiliated projects in New Mexico, has a dormitory where the students can stay during the week; but the Na’ Neelzhiin Ji Olta’ Community School does not. When the annual potato harvest season comes around, parents withdrawal their kids from the Na’ Neelzhiin Ji Olta’ Community School, and enroll them at Pueblo Pintado Boarding School, so that they can go work in fields away from home, and at the same time, know that their kids are taken care of. Their kids stay at the dorms during the week, and go home on the weekends, when the parents have a break from farming.

When working with children who come from impoverished households, and who may also have the added challenge of changing schools every year, it is difficult to ensure that they are getting everything they need to succeed academically.

The only option

Transferring schools is not ideal, but it is the only option for many kids in poor families. In Cuba, employment opportunities are very limited. The next closest town is Bernalillo; and the closest city is Rio Rancho, but it’s quite a distance away – and many students’ parents have unreliable or no transportation. Many don’t have high school diplomas, either, so they can’t compete for better jobs.

Twilia told Renée that she has four volunteers who help her with shopping for our sponsored kids. All of the volunteers are teachers’ aides at the school. Twilia also says she has a great relationship with the school social worker. The social worker there is very proactive, and she is deeply concerned about the children’s welfare. She coordinates clothing drives and works with kids who come to school in need of hygiene items – and she even lets them use the showers there before classes start. She works in conjunction with Twilia to seek food donations, which is a great help.

It is wonderful that Twilia has so much support from other school staff members to help take care of the kids, both those that are enrolled in our program and those who are not. When working with children who come from impoverished households, and who may also have the added challenge of changing schools every year, it is difficult to ensure that they are getting everything they need to succeed academically.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

A Second Home for Kids

The town of Bloomfield is located in New Mexico in a desert crisscrossed by gullies where only scrub oak, piñon, and mesquite are hardy enough to survive. Within the town is our affiliated project the Huerfano Dormitory, which was originally designed by the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a school. The Huerfano (pronounced “WAR-fen-oh”) Dormitory was converted into a dormitory when the families that live in the Navajo communities in the outskirts of Bloomfield decided they wanted their children to be able to stay in town during the school week, because their homes were too far away to make daily commuting viable. Once the school was converted, students in kindergarten through grade twelve began staying there five days a week, making the dorm like a second home for them.

The socioeconomic effects of poverty, including broken homes, alcoholism, unemployment, and hopelessness, pervade Navajo life.

A hogan for a first home

Families of children that stay at the Huerfano Dormitory typically live in traditional Navajo homes called hogans, which are made of logs and mud, in communities where there is rampant poverty. Due to widespread, debilitating unemployment, many parents struggle to afford even the most basic necessities. The socioeconomic effects of poverty, including broken homes, alcoholism, unemployment, and hopelessness, pervade Navajo life. Thankfully, all the children who stay at the Huerfano Dormitory and attend public schools in nearby Bloomfield receive three well-balanced meals a day – and those that have sponsors receive much-needed assistance.

While visiting the Huerfano Dormitory, our Director of U.S. Programs, Renée Kube, first met with Elsie, our Volunteer Coordinator there. Elsie is an experienced, long-time coordinator for Children Incorporated. She is the Residential Manager for the dorm, and holds a master’s degree in clinical social work from the University of Denver.

Our Volunteer Coordinator Elsie

Elsie told Renée that the dorm only recently obtained high-speed internet access. As such, she asked Renée to consider the dorm as a possible recipient of support from our Hope In Action Fund to purchase laptops and tablets for its residents. She said that the kids also need more blankets for the cold New Mexico winter nights.

Susan’s very own sponsor

After talking with Elsie about the needs of the dorm, Renée was able to meet some of our sponsored and unsponsored children. First, she met Jonathan*, who is in the sixth grade and loves hanging out with his friends. She also met Brian, who is in the eighth grade and likes to doodle and draw. Next, Renée met Susan, who is in the third grade. At the time, Susan was unsponsored. During their visit, Susan told Renée that her favorite thing to do is play outside.

Elsie said that Jonathan and Brian’s sponsors have been an incredible help and a blessing, and that she couldn’t wait for Susan to also become sponsored and be able to have that experience as well. Just a few short weeks later, when Renée returned back to our office, she was able to match Susan with her very own sponsor.

*All names changed for children’s protection.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Rarely Enough Food on the Weekends

The remote town of Crownpoint, where our affiliated project Mariano Lake Community School is located, is in northwestern New Mexico, near the Arizona border and the vast Navajo Nation. Many of the American Indian families in this area generate income by making and selling jewelry, kachinas (traditional, carved figures that represent deified ancestral spirits), and pottery. Some families maintain small herds of livestock. Others, who can’t find work this region of the United States, where unemployment is high, find themselves having to travel outside of the state for work.

Some parents rely on public assistance for feeding and clothing their children. For this reason, the Mariano Lake Community School is important for the kids who attend, because there, they can receive a good education and have a healthy environment in which to reside during the week – and their experiences there are enriched by compassionate teachers who work hard to build their self-esteem.

The value of dorm life

Mariano Lake Community School is a small boarding school of approximately 150 students ranging from kindergarten to sixth grade. The school consists of small portable buildings, which house the classrooms. The complex also has a cafeteria, a library, administrative offices, and a separate dorm for boys and girls.

For some parents, the relief comes from knowing that their children will eat enough at school during the week.

The dorm on the school’s campus serves many important purposes for both the students and their parents. Although school buses do travel the hour or more to the communities in which the children’s families live, the many dirt roads along the way often become impassable during and after rain and snow. If the buses can’t make it down a road, the children down that road are not picked up, so they miss school that day.

The dorm is also quite valuable for parents who work out of town during the week, because they don’t have to worry about their children’s safety. For some parents, the relief comes from knowing that their children will eat enough at school during the week, when they might otherwise go hungry at home, because there is not enough money to feed them.

Parents of our sponsored and unsponsored children at Mariano Lake Community School are often bus drivers, cooks, or security officers that make very small incomes. When they do receive their paychecks at the beginning of each month, students are sometimes absent from school, because there is food to eat at home, and money to pay for things to do – so they don’t make the trip to school. By the end of the month, however, the students are going hungry again.

Those who live at the dorm receive three meals a day. On the weekends, when they return home, they often go hungry, or they just eat junk food or snack food when money gets low or runs out. Once the weekend is over, these kids arrive to school on Monday mornings very hungry for breakfast. By Monday night, they are exhausted and fall asleep early, because they haven’t had a chance to get their energy back up from eating so little for days in a row.

Feeling unloved and unwanted

On a recent trip to New Mexico, U.S. Projects Specialist Shelley Oxenham met with Barbara, our Volunteer Coordinator at Mariano Lake Community School, who also manages the dorm. Barbara told Shelley that teachers and staff are seeing more and more students coming from difficult home situations. There is alcohol abuse, domestic violence, and drug use at home.

Children sometimes feel unwanted and unloved, which results in negative behavior both at home and at school. The kids sometimes talk back and swear at their parents and teachers in frustration. Unfortunately, because of these behavioral issues, another reason that some parents want their children to be in the dorm during the week is so they don’t have to deal with them – which only makes their situations at home even worse.

Barbara explained to Shelley that even though the children’s behavior can be disruptive, she does what ever she can to help them to have a better life. She says that the Children Incorporated sponsorship program is especially important because not only do the sponsored children really need the clothes, school supplies, and hygiene items they receive, but they also need encouragement and support from a caring adult, too. Barbara hopes that writing to and receiving letters from sponsors help the students know that someone really cares about them.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.

Visiting Navajo Country

The To’Hajiilee (pronounced “toe-HA-ji-lee”) Community School is located in northern New Mexico in the area around Cañoncito. This school is typical of those that serve Navajo children in the United States and are funded by the Bureau of Indian Affairs – except for one thing: it is far removed from the vast Navajo Nation, which spills from Arizona into New Mexico and Utah. Though not a part of the Nation, this area is still considered “Navajo Country,” where a few sheep graze against a landscape of barren desert relieved by occasional flat-topped mesas.

Despite the wealth of natural beauty and rich cultural heritage there, the Navajos who live in and around Cañoncito are desperately poor. There is virtually no employment. Broken homes, alcoholism, and an inadequate amount of food are manifestations of the poverty in which they live. For this reason, the To’Hajiilee Community School serves as a beacon of hope for children. At the school, each child receives nutritious meals, encouragement, and a quality education – giving the students there the opportunity to rise above the difficult economic circumstances from which they come.

The reality of poverty in New Mexico

Katrina does not know what she would do without the Children Incorporated program, which provides warm clothing during winter months, shoes, school supplies, medical supplies, and food items for kids.

According to Poverty USA, an organization that tracks and reports on data from the U.S. Census Bureau, New Mexico ranks 49th in poverty out of fifty states. The child poverty rate there is 30.1 percent. The U.S. Census reports that the critical poverty rates in New Mexico are concentrated among the American Indian population there. More than half of all adults in the Navajo Nation – 56 percent – are unemployed. While education is often seen as the key to reducing poverty, only 25 percent of Navajo adults have at least the equivalent of a high school education.

The Kids Count Data Center for the Annie E. Casey Foundation, another organization that tracks poverty levels, reports that intervening during childhood is key in breaking the cycle of poverty. The center’s data indicates that collaborative efforts are more likely to bear fruit – and New Mexico has begun an initiative to tackle childhood hunger.

The National School Lunch Program, which ensures that children eat a nutritional meal during the school day, is a big help; but still many children go home to inadequate food supplies on nights, weekends, and holidays. Experts say that another way to combat poverty is to improve educational opportunities for children. Children who pertain to minority groups are often hit the hardest by poverty, and New Mexico’s American Indian population is heavily impacted by it.

Drawing Water from a Well

The To’Hajiilee Community School serves pre-kindergarten students up to adult education. Built in the 1960s, it consists of several buildings and a gym. The school has an enrollment of over 300 students. It is approximately one hour west of Albuquerque. “To’Hajiilee” translates to “Drawing Water from a Well” in English. The well to which the name refers is located in a canyon just west of the school.

U.S. Projects Specialist, Shelley Oxenham, recently met with our Volunteer Coordinator Katrina at the To’Hajiilee Community School. Katrina is the Director of Family Engagement at the school, and this past year was her first full year of managing the Children Incorporated program. She is supported by the staff of the school and Elayne, her supervisor.

At the beginning of the school year, Katrina sent a survey to students’ parents that requested shoe and clothing sizes for their kids, as well as a list of needs with check boxes to select next to them. Katrina used the completed surveys to shop for the students based on the answers, and she had their parents pick her purchases up. She tries to be discreet; she doesn’t want the kids to be labeled as the poorest in the school, causing them to feel embarrassed or ostracized. She said that most every family at the school needs the program, but she tries to enroll the children whose families she knows to be the neediest.

Katrina does not know what she would do without the Children Incorporated program, which provides warm clothing during winter months, shoes, school supplies, medical supplies, and food items for kids. She says that the sponsored children benefit very much, and that she loves it when sponsors are even more involved, and write letters and send packages to their sponsored kids.

As we continue our partnership with Katrina and the To’Hajiilee Community School, according to Shelley, we see our programs supporting the children’s health and education beyond our sponsorship program. After visiting the school, Shelley considered the opportunity for our Hope In Action Fund to contribute to school gardens and markets, which will tackle some food scarcity issues for both sponsored and unsponsored kids.

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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 sponsorship@children-inc.org.