Since 2010, ICO has supported a small community centre in San Antonio, offering programs for everyone from preschool to seniors. In 2012, we were given the Casita – a house and garden – to use for our programs. In 2017, learning that San Antonio’s students were failing and dropping out of school in droves, we worked with all sectors of the community to focus more clearly on education, establishing a multi-use learning centre and library.
Visit the Casita on any day, and the place will be buzzing. Here is what you might see:
● Small groups of primary-school children (well over 100 a week) arriving for extra help with basic skills, referred by their teachers. Our team of two enthusiastic young teachers and trained volunteers uses interactive methods – flashcards, games, puzzles – to get across basic concepts. Kids also arrive for help with homework assignments, to enjoy reading a book, or to learn about gardening in the small but productive garden.
● Junior high students engaged in classes in computer skills and basic math
● Young adults learning entrepreneurial skills: sewing with an industrial sewing machine, cultivating mushrooms, raising fish and general business skills.
● A group of Ancianas – elderly widows of limited means, most living on their own, enjoying a twice-a-week lunch and activity time.
Our mandate is always to respond to community needs. In 2020-21, when families were in lockdown due to the COVID crises, for example, some of the scholarship students teamed up with community members to turn la Casita into a food distribution centre each month. Thankfully, business is starting to return to the community. Meanwhile, la Casita continues to help children, young adults and elderly women transform their lives. Funds donated to this initiative will go towards supporting monthly expenses including: fees and expenses for scholarship students; payment for teachers, the cook, the watchman/gardener, and administrators; food for the Ancianas’ lunches and snacks for the children; materials, books, and equipment for programs; operational costs like electricity; maintenance of the Casita building and grounds.
The new classroom extension at La Casita is a bustling centre of activity with children of all ages involved in their education and enjoying the art of learning. The older scholarship students help the young ones with their schoolwork.