Reforzamiento / Reforz
UPAVIM provides an educational support program for children and their families called reforzamiento. This program is an after school/before school program that assists children in learning. All of our scholarship recipients are welcomed and encouraged to use this opportunity. In reforzamiento the children are provided a safe place to learn, play and grow. For some, reforzamiento will be the only education that they will be able to receive due to economic and dysfunctional family issues.
Reyna Cho, has been the director of Reforazmiento for 15 years. Although diminutive of stature, she has a huge heart and an infectious smile. At age 17 Reyna began working at UPAVIM and gravitated into the position over time. Her primary job is to assist with children’s education through tutoring and teaching, but she also works with parents, seeking to provide resources for them so that their children can go to school. Currently she has a child she says is very intelligent and agewise, should be going into 4th grade but is unable to read and not at grade level math. She has offered to help him get scholarships to go to school and his mother refuses to get the necessary papers he needs to go to attend. She expressed her job can be challenging, not only from situations such as this, but she also often has a range of ages 5 to 17 all at the same time. She does her best though to meet all their needs. Most of the time, UPAVIM has volunteers from other countries that help in reforz also.
At times her job requires her to advocate for children when parents are not providing needed care. Reyna reported how difficult and discouraging it can be. There are so few resources and such great needs for children in the community, but anything UPAVIM and she can do to help really makes a difference for so many.
Reyna currently lives in San Lucas, about an hour and a half away by bus, due to the recent danger she has experienced in the community. She starts early about 4:30 am to get her children ready and off to school and have enough time to arrive by 8:00 am at UPAVIM. Her busy day consists of a lot of variety. She works with the young children in the morning hours teaching them letters, sounds and numbers. Several have special needs or need special attention and cannot attend normal school. In the afternoons she works at different times with different age groups of school age children. They work on homework and other activities and some play and visit later in the day in this safe space in the community.
Reyna says she “loves having an impact on children that otherwise would not have opportunities.” The children find her friendly and warm and keep returning, even when done with reforz.