Changing Lives, One Person at a Time

By Susan Neulist

This is a success story of Libros Sin Fronteras, a literacy project started in 2013, and the way a life can suddenly blossom.

Libros Sin Fronteras
Fundraising Reception
Tue, Oct 7, 3-5:30pm
Galería Atotonilco
Boletos 200 pesos available at Solutions
(Recreo 11), La Conexion
(Aldama 3 and Café Monet)
and at the Biblioteca (tienda)
Transportation: To provide rides or to get a ride, meet at St. Paul’s Church at 2:15pm

Hortensia—Horte for short—González is a beautiful and very bright young woman. Thirty-four years old, she lives about 10 miles out of town in El Huizachal, a small agricultural community, with her son Maximiliano (11), her daughter Arely (7), and her husband, Juan. Most women in the dirt-road village don’t work for pay and many of the men work in the US.

Horte has been the housekeeper for Jo Sanders for two years, requiring several kilometers of walking, two buses, and an hour and a half to arrive at work. Involved with the Libros Sin Fronteras group that brings Mexican authors to San Miguel de Allende to promote reading among Mexican children, Jo gave last year’s book, Cajas de Cartón by Francisco Jiménez, to Horte’s children. They loved it. Jo mentioned to Horte that someone with her intelligence should have a career, instead of cleaning houses. As a girl, Horte had completed half of preparatoria (high school) and quit because she didn’t see the point of it. When Jo suggested going to university, Horte couldn’t sleep for a week because of the sheer impossibility, the excitement of the idea.

Richard and I met Horte while housesitting for Jo and, equally impressed, connected her with a school, Preparatoria Expres, to finish her prepa by attending classes every Saturday. Horte loved it and did well. Jo’s friends, Lucy Ocaña and Jorge Lodigiani, retired professors from Mexico City, took Horte on a tour of several universities to learn what programs they offered. Cynthia Claus, a new member of the Executive Committee of Mujeres en Cambio, raised and kept alive Horte’s candidacy for a scholarship. Mujeres en Cambio made an exception for this older student and sponsored her for a full-tuition scholarship from the Universidad Allende. Vicki Challancin, Mujeres’ liaison to the Universidad Allende, helped Horte through the arduous application process.

Horte won her scholarship for full tuition. The extra money she will need to live on and for miscellaneous fees will be raised by the people who have already helped her and by others who are impressed with Horte’s intelligence, talent, determination, and hard work. She started university last week and in four years will be a nurse. Horte’s mother can’t read, but Horte’s daughter has announced that when she grows up she wants to be a lawyer and a judge.

And this is how lives change—thanks to Libros Sin Fronteras, Mujeres en Cambio, and the support of many people in San Miguel de Allende.


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