The Beca (Scholarship) Program
This fall has been a busy one for Comunidad and our supporting organizations. Early September saw us conducting our twelfth Beca (scholarship) program. Hosted again by the Muso Historico Regional and directed by Teresa Todd (Beca Director) and Vicky Martinez Rios (our Ensenada-based Executive Director), the organization conducted a Health Fair in association with the distribution of scholarships.
To qualify for a Beca (scholarship), the student has to demonstrate that he or she has achieved a grade average of a C or better for the past year. This year we awarded 258 scholarships (52 university, 115 middle school, 91 high school). The program has been in existence long enough now that we now have doctors, lawyers and teachers who are graduates of the program.
The accompanying health fair was again a partnership with the various universities and volunteer programs in the Baja region. Over 80 local volunteers (including college students and local health care professionals), provided educational lessons in drug abuse prevention, pregnancy prevention, diabetes control, tuberculosis and hypertension testing, female health, first aid, obesity, STD’s and career guidance as well as free immunizations. Participation in the fair is a requirement for the students.
Comunidad’s most recent dental clinic (as part of our continuing partnership with the NorCal Rotary) wound up being the start of another strategic relationship, this one with the newly-formed Ensenada Rotary Club of Todos Santos.
On the weekend of October 18-20, a group of eight dentists and dental assistants, assisted by a number of UC San Diego dental students, conducted their bi-annual dental clinic. Operating out of the Mil Sonrisas (Thousand Smiles) clinic in Ensenada, the team treated over 50 Nativos from San Jose de la Zorra and La Huerta on the first day and another 40 from Santa Catarina, Kiliwas and La Huerta on Saturday.
While the clinic was under way, another group of Comunidad volunteers headed out to San Jose de la Zorra, where they worked with a dozen Rotarians to outfit the clinic that the Rotary and Comunidad constructed over the past year. The group installed ceiling fans, built cabinets and desks, and brought over 30 chairs for use in training the children on drug and pregnancy prevention as well as dental and health care.
Finally, members of the Comunidad board met with Rito, one of the tribal elders of San Jose de la Zorra. Rito has started a small wine operation and is looking for guidance. Both the North San Jose and Ensenada Rotary clubs have members with winemaking experience and will help the tribe get this experiment off the ground.