San Juan de Abajo Community Center is located in one of the most undeveloped un-zoned neighborhoods in the city of León. It is located in the southern part of the city, between a major freeway and the railway. This neighborhood lacks most public services like a sewer system, a drinking water system, health centers, paved roads, and schools.
Many families live in houses made of corrugated steel panels and whatever other discarded building materials they may find. To have clean water brought to this neighborhood, the residents must pay up to five times more than what they would if they had municipal water lines. They are obliged to keep the water in former chemical product open barrels, which exposes it to dust and bacteria and causes gastrointestinal illnesses among the residents. Residents are also badly nourished having only one or two meals a day.
The neighborhood has a high level of illiteracy as well as problems such as high school dropout rates, family violence, vandalism, gangs, rapes, early age pregnancy and addictions. Children begin at an early age inhaling paint thinners, most of the fathers are construction workers who are paid from $800 to $1000 pesos per week (approximately $42 to $52 US dollars). When they are unemployed, the collect plastic recyclable bottles in order to sell them for income to live on.
They don't have stable jobs, the women can't work because they are home taking care of the children, and because of the insecurity of the neighborhood, often the little they have is stolen from them. These families live in extreme poverty.
Our San Juan de Abajo Community Center offers summer courses daily for five weeks, where in addition to classes, up to 350 children receive meals. These summer courses have are well established in the neighborhood and include tours every Friday to bring the children to other parts of Leon in order to be better acquainted with the entire city, not just their neighborhood.
Through the participation of the residents in Fundacion Leon's San Juan de Abajo Community Center, there has been behavioral improvement showing more assertive communication and teamwork, fostering a neighborhood with a common goal, improving their quality of life.
Because of this, we have seen that our work in the neighborhood has had a great impact allowing us to contribute to the making of responsible and compromised citizens. Each one of our activities aims to address the different needs of the residents of the neighborhood, giving them the tools, knowledge, abilities, and skills to improve their personal and social development through our different courses and workshops.
- 27,000 families and 81,000 people have benefitted since the opening of Fundación León
- Successful fundraising campaigns securing 30 donors
- 30 donators
- Participation of educational institutions that provide the volunteer teaching or coordination in our various activities like computer science and English classes, homework clubs, legal consultations, workshops on nutrition, community brigades, raffles, field trips to swimming pools, children's day activities, summer camp, research into the neighborhood's needs, dental care, and campaigns for reforestation and garbage collection
- The educational institutions who participate are the Instituto Tecnologico de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey-Campus Leon, Universidad De La Salle Bajio, Instituto Universitario del Centro de Mexico, Universidad Iberoamericana Leon, Universidad Franciscana and the Instituto Tepeyac
- Civil associations support the Community Center by giving medical services and supplies at low cost, (medicines, therapies, prosthetics and foot pads), food donations, funerary services, support for athletic programs, and coordination and rehearsal of orchestras and choirs
- The civil associations that support us are AFAPE, CARITAS, ALDIM, Fundacion Leonesa Servir, Un Angel al Cielo, Asociacion Mexicana de Diabetes, Fundacion del Dr. Simi, UNIGUA, and Fundacion TV Azteca
Please read the testimonies of our residents who have benefited from the services of Fundacion Leon
I have attended the basic computer science class and it has helped me to overcome my fears and learn new things like the Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Publisher programs, as well as the use of the Internet in an educational way to do research or learn about new places, thanks to this, I have improved my grades because I can do my homework on the computer.
From the things I have learned here, my favorites are photo editing, creating presentations and videos with music, making calendars, doing publicity and I learned how to use One Draw to elaborate a document between two people.
We are very lucky for having these courses because they are free and wouldn´t have been able to pay. I am very lucky, my teacher is very patient and she explains very well and motivates us to keep studying, since she uses techniques to help us learn and work as a team. I like to come to the center because I have made new friends there.
Alma Delia Flores Blancarte (12 years old)
I have been living in San Juan de Abajo for 14 years now, and personally speaking I feel that my family and I are lucky because thanks to the different activities and seminars given to us in the workshops on human development, I have learned how to communicate better with my family and my neighbors. Participating in “Constelaciones” helped me to strengthen my self-esteem and made me feel confident and able to show the best in me. Thanks to the courses in bricklaying, plumbing, and electricity, I have acquired skills that have allowed me to work in the construction field for the past 3 years. With this job I have helped to improve the quality of life of my family and the most important thing is that little by little we are finishing the construction of my own house.
Norma Arredondo Rangel (36 years old)
I like coming to the Center because it is entertaining, I have been participating in soccer for five years now because I like playing with my new friends, it's an opportunity to have more friends, it's a good environment and I get to exercise. I like the summer camps because I have learned a lot of skills that I didn't have before, skills like Tae Kwon Do and handicrafts. Besides, they take us to the science museum Explora, to the Park Metropolitano, to the zoo, and for the first time I visited the state museum and the central library. We have gone to the Bicentennial Theater to see plays. In the music workshop we learned about the pentagram, the notes, and we assembled a guitar.
We are happy that this place exists, it keeps us off the streets away from the temptation of drugs and gangs, my parents are glad that I go to the Center because they are less worried about me. I have good friends that are not on drugs or in gangs and I am not on the streets.
Guadalupe Adilene Leon Ayala (16 years old)
I have benefited from many of the workshops that I have taken in the Center because I have learned many things: cooking, zumba, job training, I learned how to work as a team, I learned how to be a more confident person. Nowadays I am working in a factory making sheets and blankets. I have the dream of starting my own little company; that is why I motivated myself to design a project that I presented to the grant program Prospera to buy 10 machines and start a little factory. I would happily give jobs to my friends who were in the sewing workshop at the Fundación to help improve the quality of life of their families. Now my 7 year old daughter Valeria plays the violin as part of the ECOS orchestra and we are proud of her accomplishments.
Rosa Maria Cruces Vargas (39 years old)