A mere 1,504.8 miles southwest of Cincinnati, OH lies a buzzing city in Mexico called Monterrey. You might be thinking this could be your next vacation destination with fantastic excursions and beautiful beaches. Or maybe hearing the name rings a bell from a business standpoint since it’s home to the most important financial, educational and industrial centers in Mexico. The city houses 30 universities with world-class academic programs, two of which are considered the most important universities in Mexico and Latin America. Yet, with all of this buzzing prosperity happening south of our United States border, Gift1 by Powernet was brought in for another reason.
The parts of Monterrey you won’t hear mentioned on Internet travel sites are the impoverished neighborhoods where the people don’t get the chance to go to one of the 30 universities that this expansive city holds. One place you should know about lies at the base of the Sierra Madre Mountains, encompassing eight children’s homes and two struggling communities. It’s here that you’ll find a staff team who have dedicated their lives to helping orphans and vulnerable children.
One Family’s Calling
Beth and Todd Guckenberger started serving internationally with Back2Back Ministries in 1997 when they heard their calling to move to Mexico to help orphaned and vulnerable children in the area. Through Back2Back’s 5-Point Child Development Plan, they have provided spiritual, physical, educational, emotional and social services for each individual child that comes through their home. The end-game for this 5-Point education is to enable the children to break the cycle of poverty that they and the family that came before them have been stuck in.
Through their tireless dedication to the cause, they have expanded their service to four countries outside of the United States. These countries hold numerous children’s homes and even a program for widows in Nigeria. These sites serve as safe and loving homes for young orphans to grow up. Additionally, Back2Back has taken the ministry a step further in Monterrey, Mexico.
Supporting Mentors and Tablet Technology
In Monterrey, The Back2Back Hope Education Program has been put in place to offer even more educational opportunities for children.
“The Hope Program is a residential family-based care program which allows students who grew up in institutions (orphanages) to get a higher education (10th-12th grade, then university),” Todd told us in a recent chat.
This program gives these children opportunities they never thought possible. The students receive the opportunity to be mentored and supported through the tutoring program. Through the help of the tutors and mentors, the students are surrounded by positivity that allow them to reach new goals. The emphasis on education and encouragement gives the students the support they need to get on the right track towards a better education. To add to this push for higher education, the Hope Program utilizes donated Gift1 tablets to help the students learn.
“The tablets allow the students to have an academic edge their middle class peers already have,” Todd told us.
Receiving more than just an Education
One of those students is Dalia, a girl who is using the tablets to get a leg up on school work.
“Dalia uses the tablet daily to work on homework. Throughout the week she uses it at school for projects and in-class work,” Todd said. By integrating tools like the tablets, these youths are reaching for a new standard of education.
Beyond using these tablets for school and homework, they also provide a way for the students to communicate with her extended family.
“Dalia also regularly uses the tablet to help her remain in good communication with such people as her sponsors, her extended family, her peers from school, and other friends throughout the city,” Todd told us.
As you sit reading Dalia’s story on your tablet or computer, remember the feeling you had when you first laid your hands on that shiny new piece of technology. Now imagine Dalia’s excitement when she joined The Hope Program and found out she would be using a tablet. While using this sort of technology might be a daily occurrence for some, The Hope Education Program provides exposure to technology that the students may not have received elsewhere. By giving at-risk youth the chance to work with mentors who care about their well-being, they also get the chance to be more competitive in the classroom. Between the introduction to technology, positive adult influences, and a caring and safe atmosphere, The Hope Education Program goes beyond the hope for a better education and really gives these students the chance to achieve their dreams.