Student Journal: summer dispatches from the field Orphans in Mexico: expanding the boys' goat cheese and soap business

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The Dispatches

1- It is 6 a.m., time to get up and be introduced to the goats

2 - Lunch with the big cheese and a road trip to Cancún

3 - Gringos and luggage up to the rafters, and assessing the goat cheese market in Cancún

4 - Milking the goats, a business meeting in Mexico City, and 'stoptional' red lights

5 - A new wave of volunteers, spending time with the boys

6 - Our recommendations to improve the orphanage's business operations



Our new buddies: the chavos Darío and Diego, with Doug Brown

A new wave of volunteers, drilling and filling, and encouraging the chavos in English

ATLIXCO, MEXICO - This was our last week here. We're spending it finishing our presentation for Dr. Ballí and Paco, the director of production and our constant companion at IPODERAC. A former Jesuit priest, he spent nine years living with various indigenous communities in rural Mexico before joining the organization.

We've also gotten to spend more time with the volunteer staff. IPODERAC depends on a constant stream of volunteers, who generally stay six months, living with the chavos (the boys at the orphanage) and learning Spanish. At the moment, there are two from England, one from Canada, two from the United States, and one from Mexico.

One of the Canadian dentist-volunteers at work on a chavos in the guesthouse.

Also, several new short-term volunteers have joined IPODERAC in the past few days. Two dentists from Canada will spend the next three weeks "drilling and filling." An English teacher from Denver has started teaching English classes that will continue through the summer — the chavos can now identify animals at the orphanage by their English names. The volunteers quickly acclimate to the daily portions of beans and rice and washing their clothes by hand.

Late morning is a quiet time at the orphanage. The chavos have long finished their morning chores and most are at the public schools in Atlixco, 10 minutes away by bus. The volunteers and staff enjoy the break from the usual rowdiness. They can usually be found chatting at the picnic tables outside the office.


Ask the Authors:

Doug Brown and Joost Krikhaar have agreed to answer your questions, time permitting. Email Doug and Joost

Today, during the midday lull, Brent and Doug decided to check up on the Canadian dentists and see how their work progresses. We were impressed with the thorough transformation of the guesthouse into a fully operational dentist's office.

One by one, the boys peek in nervously, climb into the big chair, and have their teeth cleaned and filled. And of course, they leave with a new toothbrush and floss.

As we chatted with Mario the dentist, two young chavos made friends with us. Darío and Diego are 10 and 12 years old. Fresh from their morning English lesson, they tried out "dog" and "cat" on us and asked if everyone really speaks English in the U.S. Since we're in cahoots with their teacher, we assured them that, yes, you have to speak English in America ...

—Doug Brown
—Joost Krikhaar
—Fabio Matsui
—Brent Mitchell


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