February 12, 2021 | Montemorelos, Nuevo Leon, Mexico | Montemorelos University and Inter-American Division News

When Lili Pimentel, a third-year student at Montemorelos Univeristy in North Mexico, had to stay home in her city of Tuxtla Gutiérrez, in Chiapas, and do distance learning early on last year, she and her family noticed a great need in her community.

“While businesses, organizations and schools adapted without a problem to the virtual new normal, many families affected by the financial strain of the pandemic, and the lack of resources and/or internet at home, caused a lot of school dropouts,” said Pimentel.  Pimentel, a third-year student in the communication and media program at Montemorelos, said she and her parents weren’t surprised that many families did not have internet access nor the proper devices for online schooling for their children.

They came up with project to tutor school-aged children in their home. They set apart a special room to teach the children.

Juanita Pimentel, an accountant employed at the Linda Vista Adventist University working remotely from home in Tuxtla, Gutiérrez, in Chiapas, Mexico, teaches a math lesson to four children from the community who are not in school because they don’t have access to internet for distance learning during the pandemic. The Pimentel family saw a need in their community and set up tutoring sessions twice a week to teach elementary age children to read and write, learn math and learn values and bible stories since July 2020. [Photo: Courtesy of Lili Pimentel]

Chiapas’ Educational Administration System reported that at the beginning of the 2020-2021, more than 36,000 students at the basic and upper educational levels were not registered in the system, which represents school dropouts among students in the state.  Only 24.6% of homes in Chiapas have internet access.

How the project came about

“The idea came about when the pandemic began and we saw through the window many children who were playing outside,” said Obel Pimentel, father of Lili. “We decided to bring them to the house to teach them how to read and write.” Both of Lili’s parents are employees at the Adventist operated Linda Vista University. Her father is a professor and her mother, Juanita, is an accountant. Both have been working from home.

After speaking to the parents of several children, they began teaching five to seven primary school children ages 6-9, since July 2020.  “They come to the house twice a week for an hour and a half, or sometimes for two hours to study reading, writing, and math,” said Lili. “We play educational videos too, videos on values, bible stories, alphabet songs and number songs for the younger ones.”

Math lessons are taught by Juanita, reading and interactive activities by her father, while writing, educational videos, values, songs and any other area that the children request are led by Lili.

Five of the school age children hold balloons during an activity during the tutoring lessons at the Pimentel house. [Photo: Courtesy of Lili Pimentel]

A family undertaking

It’s a family undertaking, said Lili. “To respect the social distancing regulations, we can only have a few children at home but we use masks and they use their masks to be part of the weekly lessons,” added Lili. She attributes her experience working with the Doulos youth ministries which oversees the Adventurer and Pathfinder clubs on the Montemorelos campus for the initiative and style of teachings.

The first segment of each lesson begins with media, where children have the opportunity to see a short video, sing songs, and go into reading and writing, explained Lili. They then go to games where they review vowels and numbers, and end with a small gift to motivate the children to return the next lesson day.

“I think this is how we put in practice the church’s ‘I Will Go’ initiative because it is reaching a need, as an opportunity to educate, but also using each lesson, song or video to teach children bible stories and about Jesus,” said Lili.

Making time to serve

For Lili’s mother Juanita, there is more than enough time to serve in the midst of the pandemic. “If we organize ourselves at home, we can get our academic or work activities done so that we have enough time to help children who aren’t going to school,” Juanita said.

Linda Vista Adventist University Professor Obed Pimentel stands behind a student during the reading lesson. [Photo: Courtesy of Lili Pimentel]

“The vision for this project toward the future is for children to obtain more knowledge and when they return to school, they can be more able because of the schooling they have done in this project,” said Obed Pimentel.

While they still study and work from home, the Pimentels will continue to teach the children, they said.

“Chiapas was not ready for this virtual mode but we are prepared to serve and implement this kind of educational project,” Lili said.

Lili Pimentel contributed to this report.

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