Recognizing the importance of technology, especially among the poor in Mexico, VAMOS! began a computer program in 2006. Thanks to several supporting organizations, Every Dollar Feeds Kids, UK Friends of VAMOS! and The Fullerton Family Foundation, we are able to have our computer workshops once a week in each of our 10 locations with each workshop open to 30 children. We also have a complete program for women and mothers at our centers with once a week computer lessons for up to 30 women. We have three different aspects of the program: Graphic Arts, General Computing Skills and our Women’s Computer Classes.
VAMOS! Computer Program Director, Abraham Rodriguez is working with our children in new and exciting ways. He runs our Computer Graphics program. In addition to general computer knowledge the program focuses on art and creative design. So after an introduction to the computer, Abraham goes over some art history, showing the children some of the great masterpieces, and exposing them to various styles, from Rembrandt to Diego Rivera. This is often the first time our children have ever seen or learned about many of the world’s greatest artists. They then start to work on their own pieces, imitating different styles and then creating their own! They each have a special drawing pad to help them draw. ¨For the children in these projects, they do not have the access to this kind of technology and this type of learning,¨ says Abraham. ¨Creating their own projects allows them to think differently and creatively which throughout their lives will help them to change their community.¨
In Mexico, April 30th is the Day for Children, El Dia de Nino, and schools and organizations have special activities for children. All of our centers have special events, food and gifts for the children. In 2014 the Celoffan Gallery in downtown Cuernavaca had a special exhibit that included some works by children. Twelve drawings were selected from VAMOS! students who work with Abraham! The children and their families attended the opening festivities, met the museum staff and other artists and had their pictures framed. It was a great day for these children who are from some of our poorest colonias – Josefa, Primero de Mayo and Casa Tatic.
In addition to our Computer Graphics we work with our children on Basic Computer Skills. These classes include lessons on computer basics, WORD , Excel, PowerPoint and other programs. Of course our families cannot afford to purchase Microsoft programs so we also teach them the freeware and shareware versions of word processing, data work and working with pictures (Photoshop). This way they will be able to work on their own ideas and projects away from class with ease. The goal is to have them prepared to be able to do their homework, reports and job applications on the computer and have the computer skills and confidence that they will need in their future.
We also offer computer skills claaes to the women and mothers who come to our centers The overall objective of these lessons is to empower the women through the use of internet access, social networks and access to information through the web. The Mexican government is rapidly moving toward online school registration as well as registering for medical benefits and housing programs etc. So it is imperative that mothers know how to navigate the system and have access to the internet. Mothers are already asking for more and as we continue to expand!