A few weeks ago, while I was on business in Mexico City and was walking into an elevator at a government office in Mexico City, a young man rushed up to me just as the doors were beginning to close. “Jim, Jim,” he said, “do you remember me?”
It was like the pages of the book of my life were shuffled back in time some ten years or more. While the face of an adult, well-groomed young man peered into the elevator, what I saw was the that of a gangly, fifteen-year-old boy. Immediately, I recognized him. “Yolatli,” I said, “how wonderful to see you.”
For 18 years, friends of IPODERAC have provided scholarship funds so that late teenage residents there can attend a technical skills high school or go to college. The funds are used for everything from tuition to bus fare. Roughly ten boys earn scholarship support each year, meaning that almost two decades later now, literally scores of young men have benefitted from the program since its inception.
Yolatli was such a young man, living in IPODERAC, just about a decade ago. As I stepped out of the elevator and gave him a hug, I was struck once again as to how life changing the scholarship program can be, and clearly has been. For the past three years, Yolatli has worked for the Ministry of Tourism. There was a time when he lived on the streets of Puebla. IPODERAC provided him with food, shelter, guidance, and affection. Friends of IPODERAC helped him get an education which resulted in a stable job in an office tower in the capital city. By the look on Yolatli’s rather grown-up face, it was obvious that he was proud of his achievements, and so was I.