Humans of La Manzanilla - Gabriela de la Vega
I took this photo of Gabriela during the Art Walk. She wanted her picture taken with her recent work hanging in the La Manzanilla Art Gallery.
Gaby (67) is a fine painter, but she is also the President and cofounder of the La Catalina Foundation in La Manzanilla.
She first came to this area as a teenager fifty years ago, and fell in love with it then. On a return trip 12 years ago, she saw a cute house near the gallery, and bought it immediately. She and her partner Pablo, who teaches Spanish conversation classes at La Catalina, have been coming back ever since.
Gabriela met Julie and Victor, who now run the La Catalina Language School, and started the Foundation over 10 years ago.
The idea was originally to make La Manzanilla the first Bilingual village in Mexico. But they soon realized that the whole educational system here needed help. With generous support from the extranjero community, they established a Scholarship program to help kids stay in school longer.
It's working. What started with 5 scholarships has now grown to 50, and the change in our pueblito is noticeable.
There was a huge dropout rate between middle school and high school, and very few students went on to post-secondary education. This situation is improving rapidly, and a tipping point has been reached where even the parents are starting to value continuing education more and more.
Gabriela is a powerful and imaginative woman. In her life in D.F., she is the founder and Director of a private college with 14 schools in and around Mexico City. She told me she has always had the desire to direct things, and doesn't like to sit on the sidelines.
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