In these times of political, social and economic turbulence — and with a new relationship between the new governments in Mexico and the US — an important nonprofit organization here is putting hands to work in communities to create alternatives so that Mexicans do not have to emigrate to the US undocumented and can develop their potential and have a better quality of life in their country.
Apoyo is that nonprofit, and it supports entrepreneurs to develop ideas, create businesses, and generate jobs through training, management support, mentoring and access to credit. Come to Rotary Tuesday, September 5, to hear Founder Ezequiel Mojica share how Mexicans are creating the change they want to be through small business hand-ups that are helping them break the cycle of poverty and transform their lives, their families and their villages.
The meeting will be at Hotel Mision, Salida a Queretaro 1, at 12:30 p.m., free and in English.
Founder Ezequiel Mojica was born in the small, vibrant rural village of Santas Marias in Queretaro state. At that time, 90 percent of men above the age of 15 migrated to El Norte. “I never dreamed of anything different,” said Mojica. “My father crossed the border illegally perhaps 20 or 25 times, on foot from here to there. My brothers did the same; and, finally, my sisters, as well.
“Occasionally, my father and mother worked as tlachiqueros, pulque producers, which they sold in San Miguel. They also had a small grocery store in the rancho, but my father was an alcoholic, so despite my mother’s efforts at running a successful business, we always lived in poverty. My oldest brother died at the age of 23 from an accident at the Pepsi-Cola factory, leaving five- and two-year-old children as orphans.
“My mother literally left everything behind at the ranch and moved to the city, so we lost our house, our cornfield, and a great deal of my childhood. When I was 10, she rented small houses all over San Miguel.
“School was difficult for me. I hardly finished secondary school, and it was only with the help of my mother that I finished high school at the age of 25. I am the only one in my family who finished high school, and, my mother thinks I am a college graduate! I was interested in continuing my studies, but university was never a priority in our family.
“Without higher education, I started reading as much as I could. The biographies of Gandhi, Luther King, and Cesar Chavez were my teachers. English books about Monsivais, Poniatowska and Garcia Marquez were my higher education. Now I learn from Muhammad Yunus and Kiyosaki.
“When it came my turn to meet the family tradition of pursuing a better life by going to El Norte, I walked along the railroad tracks to the border at Laredo. Once North, I cleaned offices and schools in Dallas and Mesquite, Texas, worked at McDonald’s, and strove for a better life that always seemed out of reach.
“When I came back, I had nothing, only the hope of finding a job to survive and help my parents. Then, one day, as I was sitting at the Jardin, a young woman approached me and asked, “Do you want to work at CASA [a local nonprofit]?” As a result, something in my life shifted, and I found that I was good for something. I met good and successful people who taught me that anything is possible.
“Ten years ago, I founded — with the help of good friends — what is now Apoyo to help entrepreneurs in the rural area realize their dreams for a better life. It has been 14 years since my adventure as an undocumented worker in the US, and very recently I was accepted in a first-class training program in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My US visa is ready and soon I will get on an airplane for the first time in my life.
“The learning process continues for me. I want to learn more so that I can continue teaching others in my communities. I want to take the message to remote villages that everything is possible if our goal is to learn, not merely to make money. I want every poor child in our villages to believe everything is possible, no matter where we come from, what our gender is, our skin color, or whether we are educated: we all have the right to pursue a better life,” concluded Mojica.
Rotary Presentation: Helping Locals Bootstrap into Independence
- Date, time: Tuesday, September 5, 12:30 p.m.
- Where: Hotel Mision
- Address: Salida a Queretaro 1
- Extra info: 415 112 3413
- Cost: Free
Rotary is where neighbors, friends, and problem-solvers share ideas, join leaders and take action to create lasting change. For more information, contact President Fred Collins at firstname.lastname@example.org and see RotarySMAMidday.org