Who We Are
Vida Outreach is a non-profit organization committed to grass-roots community development in Baja California, Mexico. We are a bi-national team that aids impoverished and underserved Mexican communities through hunger relief, development, and education programs.
Where We Work
We currently focus our work in two communities in northern Baja California: Canon de las Carretas in the retired Tijuana city dump area; and La Misión, a rural town just north of Ensenada.
Mexican Poverty At A Glance:
Although Mexico’s economy may appear strong from the outside, the majority of the country’s people struggle to make a living. According to recent government statistics, over 50% of the population live below Mexico’s national poverty line. At any given time another 30% are at immediate risk of poverty. Only 20% of the Mexican population are in a stable economic situation. Daily life has been made even harder as prices of commodities continue to rise and the government recently implemented a 16% tax that includes food items. Public water is not potable and people must purchase purified water for drinking and cooking. With no public gas lines, families must also purchase propane tanks to fuel their homes. These circumstances prevent many people from living happy, healthy, and productive lives. It’s time for change.
La Misión :
La Misión is a rural town of around 3,000 inhabitants. The local economy has suffered greatly over the last few years due to the decline in tourism and the impact of exploitative farm working conditions. The majority of the town’s population struggles to find consistent and well paid work. Most skilled workers make around $15 a day and farm laborers make as little as $5 a day. The dropout rate among students in La Misión and the surrounding communities is extremely high due to the necessity to work and a lack of resources available for students. Students lack needed supplies, money for uniforms, adequate transportation to school, tutoring resources, consistent internet access, and access to printing services .
Canon De Las Carretas:
The community surrounding the retired Tijuana city dump suffers from extreme poverty and is considered part of the poorest 10% of the country. Many families live in self-constructed houses and sanitation and adequate plumbing are constant problems. Many families do not have dependable running water or adequate access to reliable electricity. It is common to see people cooking outside on open flame. Lack of education and job opportunities also make living difficult for many adults. As a result, a common method of earning an income is to comb the city dump and surrounding area for materials to sell and recycle.
What We Do
Vida Outreach engages in a variety of grass-root, community based development programs. All of our efforts mobilize local leaders and volunteers and seek to improve living conditions and quality of life for people in Baja California, Mexico. We believe that every man, woman, and child has the right to enjoy life, pursue his or her interests, and develop his or her potential without the stifling oppression of poverty. We believe in the right to meaningful employment, a livable income, opportunities for leisure, adequate and affordable housing, utilities and transportation, health care, retirement, education, a healthy and safe environment, culture and arts, and social equality.
Some of our programs include:
Vida Outreach supports various hunger relief programs in an effort to assist struggling individuals and families with the most basic of needs.
Our main program focuses on the community living around the retired Tijuana city dump, Canon de las Carretas. We partner with a local Mexican non-profit, Baja Family Outreach, to facilitate a feeding program, operated by volunteers and parents from the local community, that serves a warm and nutritious meal to children and adults each morning Monday thru Friday. This free breakfast program feeds over 100 children and 50 adults each morning and has developed into an important relief program in the community. The program is also a catalyst for community development projects. For children suffering from extreme poverty, the program also provides a packed lunch for them to take to school.
Our efforts in Mexico are based entirely on grassroots community development. We partner with local community leaders and volunteers to initiate positive change in impoverished and underserved communities. At Vida Outreach we believe that real change cannot be purchased and delivered to a community but must arise organically. Our partnerships and programs strive to holistically address the needs of a community and depend on local participation. Here is a brief look at some of our ongoing development programs:
La Mision Homework Lab for Teens
The purpose of our homework and computer lab is to offer local students access to resources that help them succeed in school. The dropout rate is very high in rural communities and there is a danger of kids falling into drug addiction and crime.
This program provides a free computer lab to students, access to internet, and free printing of all homework assignments. We offer tutoring to students needing extra help as well as a variety of games and activities. Students can also fill out applications at the center to receive school scholarships for supplies, tuition, and uniforms.
Home Construction and Repair
In many poor communities homes are self-constructed. We work with families suffering from leaking roofs to completely inadequate housing conditions. Over the years we have done numerous home repairs as well as complete new home constructions. Taking care of people’s basic needs is an important first step to developing a healthy community.
Development in the Tijuana City Dump Community
We work closely with our partners to create grassroots community development in one of the poorest and most underserved areas of Tijuana. Together with our partners, we offer the community a variety of programs including a daily breakfast program, addiction recovery, hospital outreach, medical clinics, community service and cleanup projects, and educational programs.
Due to the extremely low wages in Mexico, many students drop out of school to work and help with their family’s household expenses. Unfortunately, the need to work often outweighs the desire to continue with an education. The cost of living is high compared to wages and many families struggle to pay the added expenses of sending a child to school. There is no public bus system, so many students must pay for taxis. School uniforms are mandatory for public schools and families must buy a uniform for each child. Many schools, especially in rural areas, put additional burdens on families by making them purchase and provide the classroom supplies, including supplies for teachers.
Vida Outreach believes that education is essential to breaking the cycle of poverty and we want to give every child a chance for a brighter future. Education is a way to inspire individuals to take action and change the broken system that governs society. Student sponsorships provide school supplies, backpacks, and financial support to help pay for the uniform and school enrollment fees. The program is also a great opportunity to mentor and tutor the local youth and develop relationships with their families. Most of the parents we work with did not go to school and often struggle to help their children with homework.
We have “adopted” the local elementary school in La Misión. The school teaches children grades 1-6 and has about 250 students in attendance. The buildings were run down, paint was pealing everywhere, and the students and teachers were in desperate need of equipment and supplies. So far we have helped paint the school, tiled classrooms, built the playground, stocked the library with new books, and donated supplies to both teachers and students. The school still needs ongoing help with supplies and repairs and we look forward to continuing to help in any way we can.
Service Trips hosted by Vida Outreach are a great way to join our effort in Mexico. Your skills and talents can be used to make a real difference in the lives of others. Service trips are also a great way to partner with local Mexican leaders and communities to develop cross-border linkages, relationships, and support systems. Ending poverty will take an international effort. Learn more