Through education and hope, to see our indigenous Mexican friends restore their war-ravaged region!

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Kiwanis-Sponsored Emilia Pays the Compassion Forward!

You think today’s gas prices are expensive? Imagine the difficulty of getting places without even having a car! The upside is, it creates a more cooperative and neighborly culture in Mexico. You might trade a car ride for a bag of rice. But few have had such a heart of neighborly compassion as Emilia, the first student of 29 sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Madison, WI!

We first met Emilia when our teammates journeyed to her village deep in the Copper Canyon in 2002 to help solve a drought problem. “The Canyon had 270 straight days without rain, and was losing cattle,” explained our special projects director Mariano Quintana. “This was like losing a bank account for a Tarahumara family, and no rain meant no grass for the other animals to graze. And their gardens were dying.”

In order to catch rain coming off the mountain when it does downpour, like it is now from Texas to Northern Mexico, you need reservoirs or dams to dip into throughout the year. Our workers lugged sacks of cement and built reservoirs in 9 Indian villages.

On this particular day, Emilia’s father joined the project and heard about the opportunity to send his girl to school, paid for by Canyon Scholars sponsors. He was elated and signed right up.

While she was a student, 6 hours away in the capitol city, she wanted to help kids from her own village get educated and receive training at the same university. So she rented a building and made it a cooperative, which 4-6 students paid for together, lowering the cost for everyone.

In high school Emily had the dream of becoming a nurse. But encountering friends who were handicapped, she developed a passion for working with people with disabilities, and graduated with a degree in that field from the University of Chihuahua. But according to Canyon Scholars founder Ren Svanoe, that was not enough for this gentle and generous soul.

It was a way for this college graduate to pay forward what she and her village had received from Kiwanis and Canyon Scholars. It’s why we say a scholarship is the gift that keeps on giving. Educated student leadership, problem-solving and innovation creates better lives for scores of neighbors for years to come!

We thank the Madison Kiwanis Club for investing in 29 students in 20 years, starting with Emelia, with their sponsees Daniel, Romina, Elier and Adalberto this year right behind her!