Appreciating the Work of Teachers and Project Amigo

Julieta helping a group of students at a homework club. Photos courtesy of GROW and Project Amigo.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Day on Tuesday, May 5, we wanted to share more about the dedication and work of the Project Amigo staff. With the help of GROW donations, raised through the purchase of GROW organic bananas, Project Amigo is able to aid the rural families in Mexico that live near the banana plantations. Educational scholarships pay for school uniforms, textbooks and supplies for the youth, and homework clubs provide a safe and supportive environment for students to visit after school. At each homework club location, a Project Amigo staff member serves as a teacher and provides other assistance.

Project Amigo staff not only serve as tutors and administrators for each club location, but they are mentors to many of the youth; tutors like Jorge and Julieta are role models for Project Amigo students that also want to go on to college and give back to their own communities through their chosen professions.

Julieta has been a staff member at Project Amigo for 8 years. Born and raised in the Colima area, she became a teacher because she enjoys having a part in the education of children and strengthening their knowledge.

“Education gives students the opportunity to progress their quality of life and to help their families and communities,” she said. “It’s important that children have a good teacher and role model in their lives.”

Julieta works 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. for Project Amigo, organizing and cleaning the homework club where she is assigned, planning service opportunities for the youth and helping students one-on-one with homework. Oftentimes she works past 6 p.m. doing house visits to youth’s homes or tutoring students. The long hours are worth it, though; she particularly remembers a successful student named Anahi.

2Anahi was already a single mother and working a job before she finished her studies. “Even before she graduated, she faced many adversities,” said Julieta. Now, Anahi runs her own business administration company, and she donates a percentage of her income to support other Project Amigo students. “Anahi is an example of hard work and perseverance,” said Julieta.
Anahi when she was a Project Amigo student.

Jorge is the Director of Student Services at Project Amigo. He’s been working with the organization for 12 years. While he comes from a social work and not a teaching background, he enjoys interacting with the students and helping them reach their goals. “Education is the key that opens doors, allows the impoverished to expand their horizons and overcome personal, social and community barriers,” said Jorge. He credits his own education for the opportunities he’s had to work with and help disadvantaged populations. His two grown sons are currently studying at the University of Colima, one for physics and one for medicine.

One of his favorite student stories is of Heraclio, the oldest of six siblings, who pursued his education at the age of 10 while working on nearby banana plantation. “He was a humble and persevering young boy,” said Jorge. “He had to rise above a ton of adversity and discrimination.”

Now, Heraclio has finished studying Agricultural Engineering at the University of Colima and he’s doing an internship. “His academic 3success and personal achievements are due to his strong spirit and values,” said Jorge. “He will continue to show us lessons of overcoming and of service to others, and he can light the way for other young         people like himself.”

Jorge posing with a Project Amigo student.

Students like Ahani and Heraclio are the reason that Project Amigo teachers find immense satisfaction in their jobs. Jorge, Julieta and others are highly dedicated to helping youth become empowered through education. This week provides an opportunity for us to appreciate their hard work and share their own stories with Organics Unlimited customers. Through the   purchase of GROW bananas, we can continue to support Project Amigo and create more successful young professionals like Ahani and Heraclio.

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