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The Oaxaca Children Grassroots is a non profit in the US, that funds the Centro de Esperanza infantil, in Oaxaca.

This is where we did the little photo workshop last month. The center sponsors the education of kids from poor families in Oaxaca, trying to make sure that they go to school instead of selling trinkets in the street. Hear this: for $250 a year (yes, two hundred and fifty, there’s no zeros missing there) you can sponsor a kid’s education, from kindergarten to college. The center provides them with the clothes and supplies they need, one meal per day six days a week, and a place where they have access to books, computers, and volunteers to help them with homework or teach them English. They choose children to sponsor based on need, and they are currently helping 600 children. I urge you to go read their history, and how they began doing what they are doing.

Milo and Stephanie wait for the kids to arrive.

I cannot think of many better ways of making a difference. The kids we did the workshop with are 16-17 year olds. And not only they seemed regular teenagers, finishing high school and getting ready for what’s next. They also had (and I believe this is thanks to the Center) an awareness of the world. An idea that more is possible. And you can be sure that their children will have an education without the Center’s help. I thought this was amazing.

Miriam, Alma and Ricardo intently try to decipher Stephanie’s Spanish accent. Peppo is in the background.

The center has a great photography program, led by an awesome guy named Peppo, who’s a full time volunteer. They have a number of cameras to lend kids, but that’s a problem–the cameras belong to the center and have to be checked out and returned each time. I was impressed with Alma’s, Miriam’s and Ricardo’s photos and enthusiasm. Ricardo was the only one who had a camera of his own, which he bought with savings from a job he has until he leaves for military school in order to try to become a pilot. Those of you who are photographers know how important is to have a camera with you at all times. I want these kids to have their own cameras!

This is where you come in. Have you gotten a new camera in the last year or so? Can we have your old one? I’m thinking about point and shoot digital cameras, say, anything over 6 megapixels or so. The idea is to give Alma and Miriam each a camera, and any extras we get, we can leave with Peppo, to give (permanently!) to any new students of his program who show promise.

I am traveling to San Francisco and Chicago in a week or so, for about a week. So I can do the smuggling. Please, if you have any cameras with battery and charger that you are not using, and you want them to be used by someone who will appreciate them, let us know!

To finish–this is the kind of kid this foundation is helping. We were in Comitán a few nights ago, and this guy came selling little packets of chewing gum for 8 cents a piece. The Center in Oaxaca tries to get kids who would otherwise be doing this kind of thing, and send them to school. This guy, in a less glamorous town than Oaxaca, doesn’t have that luck.