While most of the Humanitarian Relief Appeal’s (HRA) attention has centered on feeding people over the last eight months, PEACE Punta de Mita has never lost sight of its mission to help educate the 1,300 children of Punta de Mita. In-person schools closed doors in mid-March and by June, PEACE had modified its website to add education portals for online learning. Both our Campeones (advanced learning) Program and English Instruction have gone virtual with varying degrees of success due mostly to the limited availability of interconnect devices. Unfortunately, our children may not have in-person interface with their teachers and classmates until the 21/22 school year!
Even though it’s quite simple to equate the “new normal” in education to online learning, it’s easier said than done. The PEACE census, conducted in early March 2020 and updated in recent weeks, indicates: 133 households have the capability to connect children; 137 have shared capability with multiple siblings; 193 use their parents “back-pocket” smart phones; and 402 have none. To respond to this COVID collateral damage, the HRA set aside funds to launch its Connect Kids Project initiative because nurturing young minds cannot be put on hold. The goal is to provide 533 tablets to Primary/Secondary children and 130 laptops to High School students as we continue to study the means to connect some 200 school age toddlers. We are happy to report that La Comer fulfilled delivery at cost, and distribution and training should be completed in November. Also, 200 sets of in-flight ear buds, to help minimize learning disruptions, were provided by a PEACE donor. We are soliciting more from prominent airlines who fly into Puerto Vallarta.
In addition to the above, another requirement for online learning is a satisfactory WiFi signal. Even though some homes have adequate signal strength, more than half have no WiFi capability at all. The PEACE staff solved this problem by creating a central site in each town where students can assemble to learn in a COVID safe-distance environment.
In closing, many factors have come together in these fearful times to unite the young and old, rich and poor for causes to benefit humanity; however, nothing could have been accomplished without the generous support of the HRA donors. More than ever we are convinced that social uplifting has taken root in our towns during this time of crisis, and the benefactors of your goodwill wholeheartedly appreciate the donors’ unselfish acts of kindness.