As noted in Doctor’s Corner, the school year will begin September 13. This will give public schools an opportunity to organize classrooms for a hybrid model restart and to survey parents regarding their concerns regarding in-school vs. online learning.
For Liga MAC pandemic online learning has emphasized one important fact: the majority of students are not disciplined enough to maintain their studies via online learning. Even in pre-pandemic times the student/teacher ratio and lack of access to extracurricular resources limited students’ abilities to excel.
In order to give our students that extra “little push”, the Board of Directors of Liga MAC together with a major sponsor, have decided to initiate a capital campaign to design and build a new Centro de Apoyo Learning Centre that will encompass classrooms, a library, a computer centre, a healthy cooking kitchen, and an outdoor space large enough to host small events.
There will be more information in the coming months as plans are developed and opportunities for you, our loyal donor base, to become involved.
Finally, we are excited to announce that Liga MAC’s 25th Anniversary Celebration will be held at Querencia on March 30, 2022! The event will be underwritten by Tom and Bonnie McCloskey, the owners of Querencia, so that ALL proceeds will go to Liga MAC!
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The current COVID-19 situation in BCS has taken a turn for the better, we are currently over the third wave and have reached a new plateau. Los Cabos is now at “Level 2” and cases have decreased dramatically as well as hospitalization.
We are still vigilant and continue to encourage social distancing, hand washing and mandatory use of masks in public spaces is still in place.
The federal government’s efforts to accelerate the vaccination rate in BCS has paid off. We are now finishing second doses for those over 18 years of age. This has helped to decrease severe illness and in turn hospitalizations. Despite the fact that vaccination for those over 12 years of age has been approved there is no date in place for when this will start.
Schools were to start August 30th but by order of the governor this has been set back to September 13th due to the fact that many public schools have yet to be in conditions to operate. Many are missing electrical wiring, as this was stolen during the shut down, there are broken windows, piping is missing and they desperately need to be cleaned and sanitary measures put in place in order to receive children back into schools. Face masks will be mandatory and children can stay home and continue virtually if they would like to.
A divorced mother of 2, Suri has struggled her entire life to overcome the extreme poverty into which she was born. When she was 5 years old, her family hoping for a better life, relocated to Los Cabos from Hidalgo.
At 17 she was pregnant. Suri returned to her family dejected and depressed. She found work cleaning houses but it was still not enough to support her family. When her son was about to start junior high school, Suri feared she would not be able to afford the added expense of uniforms and tuition and thus prohibit him from moving forward with his education.
A friend mentioned Liga MAC. Suri applied, was interviewed, and her son was accepted into the student support program. Soon his schooling was back on track. Suri herself returned to school through the INEA adult education program and completed her high school education allowing her to find better employment.
Her relationship with Liga MAC blossomed into what Suri describes as “a major act of love”. When her employment was terminated due to the pandemic, Liga MAC provided food vouchers and a laptop and internet access for her son.
When a student is accepted into Liga MAC’s student support program, that support is viewed as all encompassing and may include counselling, medical assistance, or basic needs support for not just the student but also for his or her immediate family. External forces, whether they be hurricanes, pandemics, or an unemployed parent all exert emotional, physical, or psychological pressure which in turn affects a student’s performance.
Liga MAC has taken a holistic approach to our students’ welfare. As the pandemic continues to evolve, we will examine its affect on not only our students’ performances but their families’ circumstances. This month we will profile one parent’s journey to grow as a parent and as a person. We will also look at the affect of the pandemic in an unofficial poll of our students and give you a head’s up on two exciting new developments!
As mentioned earlier, the pandemic has taken an unknown toll on our students and their families. To get a better handle on how many have been affected and to what extent, Elva and her staff set up a Google Forms questionnaire and sent it out to all 233 students currently enrolled in Liga MAC’s student support program.
The following results from 196 respondents will inform our decisions going forward and may be surprising to some:
1.- Have there been COVID infections in your immediate family?
Results: 40% responded YES
2.- How many members of your family tested positive for COVID?
Results: 30% responded that 2 or more family members tested positive; 2% responded that the student tested positive; 7% responded that the entire family tested positive.
3. Were there serious hospitalizations? Results: 5% needed to go to hospital.
The current COVID-19 situation in BCS is critical. Specifically Los Cabos and La Paz are now at “Level 5: Critical” and are on the brink of a full lock down. Measures are being taken locally by governing bodies to try and mitigate the propagation of the virus.
The local population and tourists are reminded of the mandatory use of masks, are encouraged to wash hands frequently and socially distance in order to prevent further spread. Hospitals, both private and public, are all at maximum capacity.
Currently extremely high demand for COVID testing, hospitalization, and consultation has created a strain on resources. BCS is third nationally for active COVID-19 cases per capita. Six out of every 10 people tested for COVID are positive. The federal government has accelerated the vaccination rate in BCS in an effort to vaccinate as many people as possible.
Vaccination registration has begun for those over 30 years old and on June 24 the government announced that the Pfizer vaccine had been approved for those over 12 years of age.
Lesly Melissa Montejo is from a single parent family. When her father left, Melissa’s mother became very depressed and knew that her housecleaning income would not support the family. Encouraged by Liga MAC’s Executive Director, Elva Haro, to better her elementary school education and helped by Liga MAC’s food voucher program, Melissa’s mother went back to school.
Meanwhile Melissa (who had entered the Liga MAC student support program thanks to a former Liga MAC graduate, her cousin Enrique) is pursuing her childhood dream of becoming an architect. Three weeks ago Melissa’s mother received her middle school diploma and just recently, Melissa has been notified that she will receive a full university scholarship to study architecture at ITES. One of the annual benefits of being a Liga MAC student that thrilled Melissa, was receiving her new school uniform. As one of 3 children in a low income family, receiving something “new” is a special gift.
All 3 of our profiled students this month were asked individually and separately to share their favourite aspect of Liga MAC’s student support program. In all three cases the answer was the same: the feeling of being part of a family. Sergio expanded on his response to say that he felt like there was always someone walking with him. Melissa added that she always felt encouraged to do her best.
All 3 students have decided to put their careers ahead of plans for a family and mentioned Liga MAC’s personal awareness programs, Alas and Águilas (see last month’s profile), had empowered them to think beyond the cultural norms.
Sergio Amador has been in Liga MAC’s student support program for 3 years and ranks English As a Second Language as his favourite Liga MAC program. The ESL program conducted by volunteers via Zoom this school year, connected native speaking volunteers, some of whom were participating from their homes in Canada and the US, with Grade 12 students anxious to improve their English language skills. Sergio felt a strong connection with the ESL volunteers and respected and admired their dedication.
He also appreciated the guidance provided by Liga MAC’s staff who helped him apply for a university scholarship of which he previously had no knowledge. As a result, Sergio, through his hard work and some Liga MAC encouragement, has won a full scholarship for the Business Management Program at the local technical college, ITES.
To increase his business acumen and make a little cash during the pandemic, Sergio started an online sales and marketing company selling customized baseball caps. His dream is to own multiple companies that aspire to hire inclusively. In his short career, Sergio has noticed that minorities and those with disabilities struggle to find employment. His focus and strong values will help him strive to make the changes he feels are necessary.
Luis Herrera has been with Liga MAC for 6 years. He entered the program after applying to an ad on the school bulletin board. The oldest of 3 children, Luis would not have been able to continue in school due to family finances. His parents, employed as a cook and house cleaner, were further financially hampered when Luis’s father became diabetic and developed other subsequent health issues.
From an early age Luis exhibited an affinity for fixing things. His love for all things mechanical and his outstanding GPA of 9.9 has led him to a full scholarship at ITES in Electro-Mechanical Engineering.
Luis’s favourite Liga MAC activity was the Liga MAC choir which he attended for two years (up until the pandemic). Liga MAC volunteer, choir leader, and professional entertainer, Mario Lozano, encouraged Luis and gifted him one of his guitars. At home, Luis practiced and watched online instructional videos and is now a proficient guitarist. Music has become his release and sanctuary in difficult times.
Luis and his father have set up a food venue near Liga MAC’s Centro de Apoyo which they operate from 5:00 pm to 11:00 pm. Luis’s goal is to run his own mechanical repair company – a much needed service in Los Cabos!
Just two weeks after our last update, where we painted a rosy picture of the coming days in Los Cabos, the unthinkable happened: a sudden and violent spike in COVID cases. Even though vaccinations continue, the local hospitals are now filled to capacity. Dr. Deneb Poli will clarify the current situation in Los Cabos later in this update in her “Doctor’s Corner” segment.
Meanwhile, Liga MAC’s Educational Support Program Coordinator, Karen Castro, was stricken with COVID and her husband, Omar, was hospitalized. Gracias a Dios they are both now recovering.
Returning to a higher level of restrictions (level 5 from level 3) on June 23 has effectively shut down most activities and certainly any thoughts of in person celebrations for Liga MAC’s graduating students. In our profile this month though, we will celebrate 3 of our graduates.
by Dr. Deneb Poli COVID cases are still on the decline in Los Cabos, as are hospitalized patients which means that transmission is decreasing.
Frequent hand washing, mask use and general sanitary measures are still encouraged, as well as distancing.
Vaccination has continued and the government is now closing its first round of vaccination for over 50 year olds and pregnant women over 18 years of age. Second doses will likely be available in 3-4 weeks time and appointments for these vaccinations are made online.
Los Cabos also experienced a 4.3° earthquake (on the Richter scale) on May 9th at 01:48 hours. I strongly encourage everyone to be prepared not only for this type of an event but also for hurricanes as we move into the season. Please make sure you have taken a look through your first aid kit, cleaning out and replacing any expired supplies and preparing yourself with canned foods, water and enough prescription medication in case of a meteorological event.
Remember to respect signage and warning flags at local beaches as waves grow and tides become stronger over the summer season in Los Cabos. Temperatures are beginning to increase so carrying a water bottle, electrolytes, a hat and sunscreen are more important at this time of year.
Enjoy the warm weather, pool season and beaches responsibly, maintain safe distancing and have fun!
One of Liga MAC’s first supplemental programs, Alas (Wings in English), was designed for young women to help prevent teenage pregnancies. At the time, Baja California Sur had the highest rate of teenage pregnancies in the country. Premiering in 2006, the successful Alas program addressed only half the problem.
In 2015, a complementary program for young men called Águilas (Eagles in English) was introduced. Originally led by professional psychologist and sexuality clinician Heddy Villaseñor, the program expanded to include therapist Tomás Llamas.
In October 2019, Tomás and Heddy made a presentation based on their work with Liga MAC’s Águilas program at the 24th World Congress of the World Association for Sexual Health and the XII Congreso Nacional de Educación Sexual y Sexología and received recognition for their work from the Department of Psychology of Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México.
This year the Águilas program represented the first of Liga MAC’s student programs since the COVID lockdown to be held in person in a rented facility large enough to maintain social distance. Unfortunately Tomás was unable to attend but Heddy proceeded with help from Liga MAC staff, Elva and Consuelo.
Being the first in-person event in 14 months the course required special parental approval and received unanimous support from the parents of all 24 grade 10 and 11 students. One of the reasons the parents were so supportive of the program, is that the subject of sexuality in Mexico’s male dominated culture is still very much taboo. Parents have difficulty broaching the topic openly with their teens and in many cases lack the knowledge to properly handle the information.
Over 5 consecutive Saturday mornings starting April 17, Heddy, in a non-confrontational manner, introduced such topics as: the socio-economic consequences of teen pregnancies, sexually transmitted diseases, gender rights, societal and domestic violence, and the legal rights of children in Mexico. Participants explored topics through role play and were encouraged to ask questions. Heddy emphasized the importance in these transitory times of taking time to get to know their partners. She invited them to become responsible not only personally but to lead by example in all their relationships.
At the end of the program the students were asked to provide feedback by responding to a questionnaire. Universally their comments reflected their appreciation for Heddy’s expertise and her ability to provide a safe environment for their sensitive discussions.
Although much of the information covered in the Aguilas program is supposed to be taught in public school, teachers are seldom properly trained to successfully deliver the course content and many students acknowledged that much of the information had never been covered in school.
Perhaps the most provocative questionnaire response related to the fact that 30% of the course participants were the product of teen pregnancies and that many did not know their fathers. Today Mexico leads all Latin American countries in teen pregnancies – a statistic Liga MAC is helping to change.
Since 1997, Liga MAC has helped to nourish, heal and give opportunities for education to thousands of individuals in the community of San José del Cabo, B.C.S. Mexico. This includes over 5,000 grants to children and young adult since 2004.