Contrary to what fairy tales and cartoons tell us, in most parts of the world being a child is a risky business. According to UNICEF, 7.6 million children under the age of 5 die each year. Of the 200 million that survive, their formative years are often spent overcoming obstacles and expectations placed on them according to their family’s income, where they are born, their ethnicity, religion and sexual orientation. Some children then face the further challenges of disability, learning difficulties or behavioural issues. This is before you begin considering children who are exposed to physical, emotional or mental abuse, extreme poverty, slavery, prostitution, natural disasters, civil wars, substance abuse and so on. This is something we at Misión México cannot ignore, especially on Children’s Day.
The importance of ‘childhood’ is undisputed: it is a time when children develop self-concept which affects the way they approach any situation, task or relationship; it is a time for them to explore, gain confidence and take risks in a safe environment; and it is a time to learn how to succeed and, perhaps more importantly, learn how to fail.
The devastating emotional and behavioural effects negative experiences and relationships during early childhood development have on children, and the adults they become is not only felt at an individual level but effects the communities they are a part of. This partly explains cycles of poverty and highlights the importance of taking care of children so they can grow into successful adults that contribute to the economic and social development of their communities.
At Misión México, we are determined to invest in all our children at the earliest stage possible by providing good nutrition, health care, education, and a loving and encouraging environment where everyone has the safety and space they need to learn about themselves and what they are capable of, to learn resilience and how to bounce back from failure, and to learn about the world around them.
The introduction of our The Youth Transition Program (YTP) which focuses on those young people at Misión México reaching adulthood, shows our children are growing into inspiring, clever, ambitious teenagers and young adults. Every day we see first-hand the colossal difference taking a child out of an unsafe environment and giving them their childhood back can have. Moacir, one of the first children Pam and Alan Skuse took under their wing is now living, studying and working in Australia. Another of Misión México’s success stories is Dulce who described the moment she arrived at Misión México,
“Suddenly I didn’t have to work, I didn’t have to worry, all I had to do was study?
Children’s Day in Mexico is about celebrating children and learning from them. Our children at Misión México have taught us how important it is to have a childhood and how resilient children can be when it is taken away from them too soon. It is our mission to give back to our children, the fun, adventure and carelessness of childhood by providing them with safe base from which to explore. We do this by giving them good food, love, safety and education. In return they remind us every day to be more childlike – to explore, to learn and to have fun no matter what!
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