Could you find room in your heart to help a child escape a life of poverty and give a child hope for a better future?

A young girl named Ema belongs to the Wixárika indigenous community. They live high in the Sierra Madre mountains of Jalisco, Mexico. This community is too far from any government resources or schools. Ema’s family does not have stable employment opportunities. They work in the fields when they can, but only in the rainy season. Often there is not enough money to feed the entire family. They live in a shack without electricity or running water, and regular health care is nonexistent.

Unfortunately, this is common for Wixárika (Huichol) families. The children live in miserable conditions. Their parents work as scavengers or as day laborers if they can find work. Often the younger children accompany their parents when there is work in the fields. They hope to earn enough to survive another day. Sometimes, they go without anything to eat for days and are often malnourished and vulnerable to infections and disease. Without an education, they are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty. Most are illiterate, and many suffer from impaired psychological and social development. They will live out their entire lives in dire poverty and despair.

But there is hope for a better future for these children!  In 1953, Franciscan missionary friars founded Mission Santa Clara with the purpose of providing the Wixárika indigenous community with education and inculturation of the Gospel. Fr. Álvaro Pérez, OFM and Fr. Ángel Mariscal, OFM and 3 other missionary friars, along with 7 volunteers, operate a boarding school for 125 children at the mission. The children live so far out in the surrounding mountains that they walk for hours on Sunday to get to school and live in the dorms until they walk back to their family home on Friday afternoon.

Ema comes from a town called Los Pinos. Every Sunday, Ema and her 7-year-old brother arrive at Mission Santa Clara after 7 hours of walking through the mountains. She is 10 years old now and has been making this weekly trek through the mountains to the mission school since she started preschool 6 years ago. However, these difficulties do not represent an obstacle to Ema’s desire to continue with her studies and the Christian formation that she receives at Mission Santa Clara. She is one of the best students in her class, and she has a special ability for design and drawing. Ema loves school and has not missed a day! Her dream is to design clothes and build a factory to make them. The education our missionary friars provide Ema will give her the skill set she will need to make her dreams come true. And give a child hope for a better future!

The parents of these children do not have the money to pay tuition. Each family contributes firewood once per year to help the school. The children are provided with a free education and room and board. There is a volunteer cook at the school who prepares a healthy, simple breakfast, lunch, and dinner meal. The children eat beans, eggs, fruits and vegetables, cheese, canned food, chicken, cereal, milk, corn flour, wheat flour, rice, sugar, and oats. The children also get daily vitamins.

I am writing today to ask you to help Fr. Álvaro and Fr. Ángel give young children like Ema a chance to break the vicious cycle of poverty and working as temporary farm laborers. Please help provide these children with the learning experience that will develop the skills they need to be successful! It costs only $3,500 to provide the food to feed all the children and staff for one month. Every $25 you share with Fr. Alvaro and Fr. Angel will feed a child for a full month!

Please consider helping Fr. Alvaro give Ema and the other children hope for the future by preparing them to continue their education and succeed in school! Your gift to help feed a child reflects your loving heart and your commitment to helping the poor. YOU have a special place in the prayers of all our friars because you support our Gospel work around the world. Please help our missionary friars give the Wixárika children an education and the dream of a better tomorrow!

With a grateful heart,

Brother Andrew Brophy, OFM

Executive Director

P.S. Thank you for your wonderful generosity. Your donation today will give a child living in dire poverty the opportunity to attend school. It will also give that child hope and the chance for a better future.

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