Buckner seeks to turn families around ‘180 degrees’
By Chelsea Quackenbush
ZAACHILA, Mexico – Fifty Mexican families are working with Buckner staff turn their lives around by participating in the "180 Degree Project" through the Zaachila and Mefiboset Community Transformation Centers. Earlier this year, caseworkers did a census to identify needs in the community, and then identified 25 families from each location who fit their profile of candidates for the program.
"Because the families live in such poverty, they often don’t see the need to organize their homes or keep them clean," said Dexton Shores, regional director of Latin American programs. Buckner social workers are helping families learn basic life skills, like organization, hygiene and job skills, things they may not know due to their circumstances. The project coaches them to organize their kitchens and bedrooms by using what’s available, like building clothing dressers out of cardboard boxes they find near the trash dump.
Caseworkers teach about the dangers of leaving food out all day, and how to dig proper septic drainage away from the house. They assess the family’s needs and connect them with a local church in hopes of spiritual and community transformation.
“There has to be a desire for change and a willingness to accept advice. The best candidates are the ones that are most needy and most apt to change,” Shores said. “We encourage the families to volunteer after they go through the program so they can turn around and help others.”
The program is funded by a grant from Mexican government, which Buckner has received for the third year in a row. Caseworkers and volunteers are crucial to teach the skills necessary for a successful program.