A role model for rural families and students: Margarita Juárez and her family
By Lexi Stickel
Margarita Juárez grew up in La Palma, a rural community located outside San Miguel de Allende on the road towards Dolores Hidalgo. She was the first in her family to finish high school. Dedicating herself to her studies, Margarita also went to the United States to attend community college. Margarita returned to Mexico and to La Palma. Currently, Margarita works in San Miguel and lives with her husband and daughter in La Palma.
Margarita and her family overcame a lot of challenges. Her father was widowed in 1992 and Jose Manuel began studying the techniques of a bovedero master who moved to San Miguel in that same year. Margarita was one of eight children and her father worked very hard in order to raise his children. Manuel became a master bovedero and for over 26 years he built hundreds of bóvedas in 16 Mexican states and New Mexico in the United States. Additionally, he trained his sons and sons-in-law in his profession and started a business that his sons are still running today. The other daughter of the family is currently studying environmental engineering at the University of Guanajuato.
Margarita returned to La Palma with a desire to improve her community. After working with members of the Rural Education Institute of Mexico, she requested that the organization expand to La Palma. Margarita has been an integral part of the program expansion to La Palma. She helps organize and facilitate monthly meetings with parents as well as helps the staff understand the community’s needs. She is truly an inspiration to the volunteers of the Rural Education Institute of Mexico.
Though Mexico has the second largest economy in Latin America, there remains a stark inequality in the country’s education system – rural Mexican children simply do not have the same opportunities as their urban counterparts. The problem is partly financial – there are few high schools in the campo, and the government does not provide transportation for rural children to attend urban schools, and partly cultural – in rural areas, literacy is low, and education is not always a priority. The Rural Education Institute of Mexico exists to help fill this gap, and to give rural children the incentive and means to go on to high school and beyond.
Skilled volunteers work in rural community centers, providing programs that introduce children to a world outside the campo. Libraries are built to help children improve their reading. They learn art, drama and English, among other subjects, and are taught to use computers. Rural Ed also enables the most deserving children to meet the costs of going to high school – about US$700 per student per year – by awarding scholarships.
For more information about the Rural Education Institute of Mexico, please visit our website at www.ruralmex.org or call us at 415-124-1357.