The Katalina Kasper Educational Center in Coatzocoalcos was lucky to have been chosen by our colleagues from Marine & Protective Coatings in Mexico to support them with funds from the Community Program. When the AkzoNobel employees visited the school, which is located 10 km from the city in a very hot coast zone with temperatures between 28°C and 38°C, they detected a lot of needs.
The school provides education to 120 children from underprivileged families. Many of the children come from homes abandoned by parents, dysfunctional families or families who cannot provide the daily food such as breakfast before attending school. Also many of these children have suffered from physical and psychological abuse. The school was established 8 years ago by a support institution: reason why no governmental financial support is provided. The teachers work on a voluntary basis against minor payment. They teach children between 7 and 15 years old, regardless of their origin or needs and they offer a basic breakfast before they start their activities considering that the food they receive at home is not enough.
About 8 volunteering employees have been visiting the school since the beginning of the year and in conversations with the teachers and the school principal they defined the most important support in different areas, like creating workshops such as dressmaking, electricity, carpentry, typescript, which can provide them with a trade so children be able to support themselves in life once they finish school and be able to work in the community.
During their visits they also saw that the playground was in very bad condition and there was no perimeter wall around the school to keep the children safe. The bathrooms needed to be renovated as well. A lot of work was to be done which would be done in several stages. The volunteers started providing the teachers and students with antibacterial materials to fight against influenza AH1N1. Posters were created and they held presentations for the children to inform them about the prevention measures of this decease (do’s and don’ts for avoiding infection).
Then paint was provided to refurbish their facilities, as well as furniture that once belonged to Marine & Protective Coatings in Coatzocualcos. Suppliers were asked to come and help as well which they were happy to do and together with the teachers the need for each workshop was determined and the necessary materials were bought.
The work is still ongoing, but the volunteers are well underway. Bearing in mind that the children are the future for this poor community of 1500 people, the volunteers do not need much encouragement. This was confirmed by one volunteer: ‘through attending workshops in carpentry, tailoring, cooking or handcraft, the children can have an occupation once they finish school and can do something for a living’. A unique opportunity thanks to our volunteering colleagues in Mexico.