I first visited a Christel House school in 2010 on a trip to Mexico City. On this particular trip, a colleague and I traveled to one of the shanty towns where the Christel House students live. It was everything you see on the news and in documentaries – dirt paths, rows of small shelters, stray dogs wandering about – and yet, in the distance you could see the skyline of the city, full of new money, creating a striking visual representation of the class division.
One of the women in the town invited us into her home, which was a small shelter with a roof made of corrugated iron. She told us that she had built the house herself, and showed us how they bathed by collecting and conserving the rain water – it was worse than I had ever imagined, and like nothing I had ever seen before. And yet, the woman’s spirit was unwavering – she was resilient in the face of her poverty. Despite her struggle to support her own children, she had even taken in another child – an orphan girl who had been left on the streets to fend for herself. Instead of talking about her suffering, she told us how appreciative she was of all of the help that Christel House had provided her in educating her son and supporting her through community outreach programs.
From here, we went on to visit the Christel House Academy. Coming from the shanty town, it is easy to see what an oasis the school is to the children who attend it – it is bright and cheerful, full of nurturing teachers, running water, warmth in the winter and complete, nutritious meals during the day. We even had the pleasure of reading and acting out “Little Red Riding Hood” to a room full of elementary school students. They were all engaged, bright and happy – it was hard to imagine them going home to the poverty I had just witnessed. On that trip, I had never been more proud to work for a company that supports an organization like Christel House that gives these children food, warmth, community support, education, and, I think most importantly, hope of a better future.