Latino Student Group Celebrates for a Good Cause

Claudia Anaya

The Association of Latin American Students (A.L.A.S.) along with Voces de Mañana, Philippine Cultural Organization, and the Creative Minds club presented “Pena,” a Latin cultural festival with proceeds going to the Children of Chiapas Foundation.

More than 100 people celebrated with live music, performers, and Latin cuisine on May 3 from 6 to 10 p.m. in Plaza Vaquero.

The Children of Chiapas Foundation is a grassroots non-profit organization that seeks to find solutions to end children’s homelessness, and promote children’s education, culture, and healthy recreational activities in Mexico and around the globe.

Rocio Watson, founder of the Children of Chiapas Foundation, goes to Chiapas, Mexico twice a year to check on the program she founded.

The program gives kids who cannot continue their education past the sixth grade (because they live in remote villages and the only resource is a broken down elementary school) a chance to keep on learning.

The kids would “usually have to travel outside their village which creates chaos in the family because it’s very expensive for them to travel, as well as having to buy school supplies and sometimes school uniforms which makes it too expensive for the kids of Chiapas,” said Watson.

About 350 families live in the Chiapas village that Watson will be going to along with eight students to deliver the money and to interact with the community from July 26 until Aug. 3.

The students will be breaking into groups and organizing projects in Chiapas.
Women studies students will be teaching women about their reproductive rights, and will also teach an empowerment program.

The Children of Chiapas Foundation works with a center in Chiapas, which hosts children during the school year and provides them lodging and tutorial services, which the foundation provides financial support for.

The foundation sends money for food, school supplies, lodging, and have even sent computers in the past.

There are currently eight girls from 12 to 14 years of age in the program.

“Every child has the goal to go back and serve their community and putting their education back into the community,” said Watson.

Since “there are no overhead costs, there’s no office, we work out of our home, everything goes to the kids,” said Watson.
Watson and volunteers pay for their own travel expenses.

The small community Watson and volunteers will be visiting, is very committed to their people.

“They have very low crime rates and they don’t allow any alcohol into their community,” said Watson.

A.L.A.S. was able to save money on the celebration to raise money for the foundation since “Barragans [restaurant] in Burbank donated rice and beans and Acapulco restaurant donated rice, beans, and chips,” said Claudia Montes, 19, business law major and A.L.A.S. member.

Chiles rellenos, enchiladas, pupusas, burritos, and empanadas were among other Latin food served at the celebration that parents, students, and children attended.

The eight to 10 vendors were charged $20 to set up booths in Plaza Vaquero, which went to The Children of Chiapas Foundation.
Aztec and Bolivian dancers also performed in the Latin festival.