Through our annual Christel House campaigns here in New Jersey, I always knew that Christel House was changing lives. I don’t think I fully appreciated this until I had the privilege to visit Christel House Mexico with our Latin American legal team in the summer of 2011. We toured the school and had a chance to meet its Director, Maria Cristina, the teachers and of course the wonderful students. The school was full of life and excitement, from the colorful walls and passionate teachers to the smiles on the kids’ faces. This wasn’t a passive visit, as we were put to work helping the students with an arts and crafts project (I only wish I had an ounce of their talent!). It was impossible not to smile and be lifted up by their energy and curious questions. My children had been equally curious about my visit and offered to donate over 50 of their own books to the school - one of the personal highlights for me was reading one of the books to a first grade class. I couldn’t help but see my own children in their eyes and I wanted to do all I could to help.
With our emotions already running high, we also visited one of the student’s homes. I will never forget it. We were on a fairly typical city block for the area, with apartment buildings and businesses which you would expect to see in such an urban location. And then we were suddenly there - just a few hundred feet off the street – in an area called ‘the cliffs’ with tiny structures dotting a steep cliff on both sides. There were holes in the walls and roofs – very little space and shelter. The conditions were as severe as I had ever seen in my life. We met one family, struggling to get by with over 6 people living in a space more suited for 1 and with paper thin walls. We met their little girl, Azul – her smile lit up the place. Against the odds, she was succeeding at school and in extracurricular activities, with great support from Christel House. This amazing family was very thankful for Christel House, and we were grateful that they took us into their lives for a brief moment. It was an incredible day and experience for all of us and reminded us of the need which Christel House serves and the transformative role which they play every day. Thank you, Christel House!
Come back to the RCI Blog this week, where you will have an opportunity to read blogs from Christel House students, teachers and other RCI associates who have visited Christel House learning centers. To learn more about Christel House now, check out their website here.
Here is a photo of students during my visit to Christel House Academy.