Recruitment Update: Mexico City
In early October, Dr. Dickey, Dr. Esparza Ochoa, and Annelise Kahler, our new GML Program Coordinator, traveled to Mexico City with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, a trip organized by Javier Perez, CBF’s Director of Global Missions Programs & Impact and advisor to the GML's recruitment efforts in Latin America. With 14 other participants from various states, state organizations, and churches, they visited an early child development center in Tepipilli, a peri-urban community on the outskirts of Xochimilco, and made connections at the Baptist Theological Seminary in Mexico City proper. Dr. Esparza Ochoa also coordinated meetings with Dr. Pedro Isnardo De La Cruz Lugardo, a Social Work Professor at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), as well as three current UNAM students.
Mexico City’s Baptist Theological Seminary invests in indigenous theological development throughout Mexico focusing on marginalized populations. They also work to integrate “creation care,” the teaching of agriculture and sustainability, as part of their biblical framework and have staff provide training and discipleship inside these marginalized communities. Their focus on empowering these communities to care for the creation placed in their custody was familiar to our GML staff.
Hendi Espino and Tomas Chapman lead COMPA at UNAM, an organization comprised of Christian student leaders, similar to InterVarsity in the United States. Emily Ortiz Escobar, current GML Scholar, was even involved in COMPA during her undergraduate education in Guatemala. COMPA has a huge alumni network and keeping their alumni connected and provided with post-graduate opportunities continues to be a priority for the group. UNAM is currently the biggest university in the Americas, and we are hopeful GML can be one of COMPA’s alumni opportunities, helping to create a clear pathway from a large Latin American university to the GSSW. (https://cdmx.compamexico.org/que-es-compa/)
The early childhood development center in Tepipilli, started by Javier and his wife with the goal of lifelong support ("cradle to career"), aims to relieve extreme poverty through a two-generation approach, meaning staff work not just with the children who attend the center but with their families via home visitations and coaching. The center focuses on hygiene, nutrition, emotional intelligence, agriculture, and speech therapy amongst other topics, using the Montessori model to guide the children. There were some children in the center that were non-verbal six months ago who are now speaking fluently, a true testament to the staff's dedicated work with this community.
Tepipilli can seem a difficult place to live. There is no running water, and the development center is one of the only standard buildings in the village. There is also a lot of domestic abuse in the community, another aspect being worked on by the center staff during the home visitations. Some of the GML Staff’s co-travelers were Social Workers and pediatricians, able to perform not just physicals, but mental health assessments on the children’s parents, even screening for autism and other neuroatypicalities. But the foundation of the center is the staff’s integration in the community where they build trust and relationships with the families they support. The GML Staff met these co-laborers, individuals doing Social Work without Social Work degrees, and wondered if any of them would someday be interested in attending the GSSW as a GML scholar. They would have so much to teach our community.
GML staff was blessed by this trip. From making connections with CBF employees and supporters to seeing first-hand the type of work our Latin American scholars could be doing in their home communities, God’s hand is evident in all.