Moving ahead despite all obstacles


Written by Franciscan associate Ruth Bernal Hernandez

Gabriela is fifteen and currently attends senior high school. She lives with her parents and her older sister and brothers. Despite the obstacles in her life, she has a great motivation to get an education and improve her life. Gabby’s Dad is very sick with kidney disease and has to undergo dialysis every day. Her mother is unable to work because of a herniated disc. Because of this, the older boys have had to drop out of school; they work to help the family.

Gaby is an excellent student with an A average. She wants to stay in school and attain a professional career, so that she can help her family. She is a great inspiration to me. She shows us that, if you set a goal, you can reach it, despite the weight of adversities that life places before us. She shows me that we can overcome any obstacle however large it may seem.

Gaby sends a big thank you to the Cuernavaca Children’s Mission, Sister Maggie, and her sponsors, for the great help they provide. And we send a big thank you to you, Gaby, for inspiring us! God bless you and help you attain your goals.


Love always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres


(1 Corinthians 13:7)

Written by Franciscan associate Silvia Hernandez and Sister Maggie

Angeles is nine years old and in the third grade. Her parents are emotionally incapable of taking care of her, so she lives with her grandma (pictured above) and grandpa. Even though the grandparents are very poor, they are committed to raising her. Her childhood has been rough so far. At the Cuernavaca Children’s Mission, we are giving her lots of love and attention, hoping that we can help break the cycle of poverty and abuse that her parents are caught in. Angeles comes to our children’s library regularly to read, play, and have a hot meal. We also provide free tutoring. Donations from her sponsors in the U.S. help pay for these services, as well as purchasing her school supplies and gifts for her birthday and Christmas. We are hopeful that all this attention and care will make a difference in her life and give her a brighter future. We love you, Angeles!


Sponsoring a child changes two lives

Timo with young Blanca

Tim first came to Cuernavaca from Minnesota many years ago to study Spanish. It was here that he first met Blanca, a five year old with a winning smile. They soon became fast friends. Tim returned to Cuernavaca many times after that first visit, and got to know Blanca and her family quite well.

Blanca’s father often picked fruit so that he could earn a little extra money for the family. In 2009, he was standing on the branch of a guava tree when the branch broke, and he fell to his death. From that time on, Tim became a second father to Blanca. When her school expenses became too much for the family to handle, Tim stepped in to help. With his assistance, she was able to pursue her dream of becoming a beautician. She recently obtained her degree from a school of cosmetology, and is now a certified beautician. Now her dream is to own her own beauty salon. Knowing Blanca, she won’t give up until she achieves her goals.

It was not only Blanca whose life was changed by their friendship. In the following reflection, Tim writes that befriending Blanca and her family has changed his life:

I had no inkling that my life would be intertwined with another on the day that I first met Blanca. I had recently put into practice a new way of living. My job was to show up – the rest was in God’s hands.

To help guide a child through the oft bumpy road into young adulthood is an honor and a privilege. Over the years we saw each other as much as time would allow me to be in Cuernavaca. During that time she lost her father in a tragic accident. I was one of many who filled that role in the ensuing years. When it came time to make an important decision concerning her future, I offered to finance whatever educational choice she wanted to do. Blanca recently completed her two-year beautician classes.

It is hard for me to put in to words the feelings I have had over these years, watching her grow into a young woman, and knowing that I played a part – the part God wanted me to play: show up and be of service.

“Show up and be of service” is exactly what Tim did. The Cuernavaca Children’s Mission is richly blessed to have friends like Tim.

Tim and Blanca 1

Mariana’s Story


Mariana Villada

By Franciscan associate Yolanda Rodriguez

Nine years ago, I met a beautiful three-year-old girl by the name of Mariana. She was a sad and quiet child, and very intelligent. Whenever she said something or asked for something, she always did so with kindness and respect. But I could tell she felt very alone in the world. I remember one day she asked me to show her how to draw.  Her family was very poor. Mariana had no paper, crayons, or coloring books. So I started helping her in whatever way I could. I would often give her magazines so she could look at the pictures.

The years passed, and I had the good fortune to start volunteering at our little children’s library, La Biblioteca San Francisco. We like to say that it is a little corner of peace for our children, a place where they can safely spend a few hours, get a good meal, read, and play educational games. I started bringing Mariana with me to the library, and she loved it!

Before long, I became a Franciscan associate, and I am now part of our Franciscan family in Cuernavaca, which has its motherhouse in Tiffin, Ohio. Over time we were able to find sponsors for Mariana so that she could have what she needed to do well in school. Her sponsors, a couple who live in Texas, fill an empty space that Mariana had in her heart. She considers them her family. It touches my heart to see Mariana decorating her latest letter to her sponsors. She is so much happier now. I can tell that she feels loved.

Mariana is about to graduate from primary school now and will go on to junior high. She has come a long way from the sad little girl I met so many years ago. May God bless all the sponsors and benefactors of our work, who bring so much happiness and hope to our children.

La historia de Mariana (versión en español)

Escrita por asociada Yolanda Rodriguez

Hace 9 años conocí a una hermosa niña de nombre Mariana, una niña triste y callada, muy inteligente. Cuando decía algo o pedía algo, siempre lo hacía con amabilidad y respeto. Me pedía que le ayudara a dibujar. Le prestaba revistas  y libros para colorear y escribir. Con el paso del tiempo tuve la suerte de conocer la Biblioteca San Francisco, un rincón de paz de las hermanas franciscanas, y ahora soy parte de la familia franciscana.

Gracias a sus padrinos en el programa Cuernavaca Children’s Mission, Mariana ha salido adelante. Ahora es una niña feliz porque sus padrinos llenan el vacío que había en su corazón. Le mandan cartas, regalos, y fotos. Mariana no conoció a su papá entonces está feliz de tener no sólo a su mamá y a su hermanito aquí sino también a unas personas en Texas que la quieren mucho. Ahora va a salir de sexto y entrar a la secundaria. Gracias a todo el apoyo que sus padrinos y la familia franciscana le han dado, ahora Mariana es una niña feliz. Que Dios los bendiga.

Connecting with adolescents


Written by Sister Maggie and Associate Margarita Castro

At the tiny park just outside our children’s library, we offer a weekly workshop for teens and their parents on Saturday mornings. As the lines of communication are opened, it has proved to be an enriching time for parents and teens alike. Franciscan associate Francisco, who is a psychologist, facilitates these gatherings. He is assisted by associates Margarita and Juanito.

During one of these meetings, Francisco asked the group, “Why are you here?” Here are a few of their responses:

“We’re here because we feel like this has become our family. We feel happy and free with each other.”

“We have lots of problems at home, but when we come here, we can forget our problems. In this workshop we always play and laugh and simply spend time with one another.”

“I love coming to the children’s library because I love reading, but I have no books at home. Here I can read as much as I want, and it doesn’t cost a thing.”

Thanks to our benefactors and partners in mission, who make it possible for us to provide opportunities such as these.


Setting sail for a brighter future

Jorge off to school


Written by Franciscan associate Francisco Nava Garcia

I met Jorge one Saturday morning when I was a new volunteer at our children’s library. I still remember my first glimpse of him: a timid little boy in the corner of the room, silent, his skin the color of the earth. Perhaps all he needed was a little attention in order to bloom.

Jorge is from a family of four women, including his one-year-old niece. He is the only male. The members of the family have noble aspirations which, unfortunately, they do not follow through on. Jorge was experiencing severe neglect. His family environment was putting his future in jeopardy. It looked to me like he was at risk for dropping out of elementary school and subsequently falling into some type of addiction or criminal behavior if nothing was done to correct his course.

We started thinking that getting him into a healthier environment could make a huge difference in his life and his future. Near my home, about two hours from Cuernavaca, there is a YMCA home for children known as Camp Camohmila. It is a place where children from backgrounds of poverty and neglect are given a new start in life. We began to talk with Jorge and his family about the possibilities this would offer him.

I remember the day we first mentioned the idea to Jorge. We made a paper boat together, and made a deal: we would launch the boat in the little stream near Camohmila on his first visit to their campus. Imagine my surprise when he arrived the day of his visit with that little boat in his pocket. He put it into the water, and together we watched it sail away in the current.

With the consent of his mother and under the blanket of care of our Franciscan family, Jorge was accepted at Camohmila and began his new life. Even his two big sisters gave their approval. The image of his face when we left him there for the first time is engraved in my mind. He was determined not to cry as he began a new life in a new home, with people he did not know. Although they were there to give him unconditional support and love, he had no idea what his future would hold.

A year and a half later, Jorge is blossoming. We are catching glimpses of a new Jorge: a boy with a promising future and a generous heart, a boy who is well on his way to becoming a responsible adult and a loving person. And he promises to remember where he came from and always lend a hand to his family.

Francisco Nava Garcia, Franciscan associate


A Jorge lo conocí un sábado en el que apenas estaba iniciando a asistir como voluntario.  Tengo la imagen de un niño en un rincón, un chiquito taciturno de color de piel como la tierra, a  la que sólo le hace falta  ser removida y rociada un poco para así poder dar fruto.

Un poco de su historia…

Es miembro de una familia de 4 mujeres (incluyendo a su sobrina de casi un año de edad), siendo él el único hijo varón.  Sus miembros son de nobles sentimientos pero van a la deriva y eso es lo que a Jorge lo pone en un riesgo fuerte. Riesgo de, no terminar más que su educación primaria, de caer en algún vicio y parar su  camino para llevarlo a ser un hombre de bien.

Viviendo a dos horas de camino, pensamos en que sería una manera de rescatarlo de ese casi inminente destino, trayéndolo al Campamento. Llega a Camohmila cobijado por la familia franciscana, con el consentimiento firme de su mamá, apoyada por sus hijas. La ocasión en que le comenté la idea que teníamos, recuerdo que hacíamos un barco de papel y nuestro trato de que lo echaríamos a un riachuelo cuando el visitara el lugar del que le hablamos. Cuál fue mi sorpresa que  el niño traía en su pequeño bolsillo ese barquito confeccionado aquél día y juntos lo vimos deslizarse por esa pequeña corriente de agua.

Tengo grabada la imagen de su rostro el día que se iba a quedar por primera vez en la instalaciones…  vi la confianza en él de no llorar al vernos partir y quedarse con unas personas desconocidas que, aunque estaban por brindarle un apoyo incondicional, él no sabía bien a bien que le deparaba.

Ya con año y medio de haber ingresado al programa de becarios de la YMCA,  en Jorge se puede  vislumbrar  como un chico con un futuro prometedor  y no puede disimilar, a su corta edad, la generosidad que posee.

Jorge Daniel Villegas Tetatzin es el nombre de futuro adolescente, joven, adulto responsable,  y amoroso que promete voltear hacia atrás y tender la mano a los suyos.

How to make a difference in a child’s life

Nancy Saro and Juan Manuel

Sponsor Nancy Saro from Michigan, with sponsored child Juan Manuel

I want to take the opportunity to tell a little about an amazing trip I took last month to Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. Cuernavaca is not one of the resort areas in Mexico. It is a city about an hour outside of Mexico City that you don’t often hear about.

I went to meet, for the first time, a wonderful young man that I sponsor. His name is Juan Manuel. I’ve been sponsoring Juan over the last few years through the Cuernavaca Children’s Mission. This mission exists due to the hard work and dedication of Sister Maggie, a Franciscan sister from Tiffin, Ohio, and some lovely dedicated ladies that help her (along with a couple very dedicated men, also). Their mission is simple, to end the cycle of poverty through education.

The poverty in this area is very real. Many children must be pulled from school to work or sell trinkets on the street in order to put very little food on the table. There are some very sad things that are the result of this extreme poverty which I will not go into.

The mission’s goal is very simple. Sponsoring a child enables the child to finish their education, therefore making them employable, and hopefully breaking the cycle of poverty.

My sister Carol was with me and also sponsors a child. Our time with these kids, their siblings, parents, and the wonderful people that dedicate their time to this worthy cause was truly a Christmas blessing for me.

If any of you are looking for a worthy cause to support, I encourage you to take a look at this mission. I can assure you that sponsoring a child will be one of the most rewarding things you can do. If you cannot sponsor a child, consider a one-time donation. What you spend on a coffee at Starbucks is more than these families make in a day. This charity is real and legitimate. I’ve been with those that run it.

Thank you, Hermana Maggie, for a very wonderful and rewarding vacation!

[Note: The actual cost of the services the Cuernavaca Children’s Mission provides for each child is approximately $1,000/year. A child may be sponsored for an annual donation of $300 or more. Details are under “How to help.”]

Written by sponsor Nancy Saro, Michigan.