An Update from a Past Volunteer

Francisco Martinez-Oronoz (Frankie) who volunteered at IPODERAC 7 years ago, alongside ICF board member August Ritter, returned recently to IPODERAC to implement an 8-week mindfulness-based curriculum for several of the older boys. Frankie developed this curriculum as part of his practice and research as a doctoral candidate at Florida State University. His message to donors and friends of IPODERAC after his recent work with the boys is clear:

"I ask that you tell them that their donations have supported the beautiful work of IPODERAC and that countless boys benefit. Tell them that their generous gifts are supporting the tireless mission to improve future generations in Mexico. That now more than ever, their support is necessary. Tell them thank you!"

Here are additional excerpts from an email Frankie sent to August after his visit:

"I wanted to take some time to write you about a place we both love very much - a place that we can both agree has been instrumental in the men we are today. Seven years after the day we met as volunteers, when we both arrived to Atlixco, IPODERAC is still the vibrant, beautiful chaos we remember it to be. In fact, it’s better. I am excited to share with you that our brothers are all right.


As you know I was just there for three months, working on my dissertation research regarding mindfulness and meditation practices with the youth and what benefits it has on their social, emotional, and academic development. Being able to share this practice with the chavos was such an incredible learning and growing experience…

But beyond that, this was a full circle moment in my life, going back to a place that I owe so much to and hopefully teaching them something they can hopefully continue to incorporate in their lives. Even more incredible was being able to share these courses with boys we know well from their arrival to their IPODERAC years ago - though it is difficult to refer to Miguel, Walter, Pepe, Efrain and Manuel as boys these days. Their days in San Juan and San Pedro seem like so long ago...

I must also express how excited I am about the current educative team - those who are the front lines IPODERAC’s mission. I was extremely impressed by the passion and knowledge they bring to the work they do… [T]hey create the healthy home we want the boys to experience while they are there - a place to learn, grow, and love. I cannot thank them enough for the welcome they gave me from the moment I arrived. They are the bright future of this beautiful program…

While in Mexico, I also had the opportunity to reach out to our chavos from 7 years ago, most of who left a long time ago. In some cases I met their wives and their children, and often times visited their homes. I saw responsible, hardworking individuals with an unbreakable bond to family and friends. I saw individuals who refused to settle for the cards they may have been dealt and give their new families the life they themselves did not ask for as kids. I saw the men we always wanted them to be.

A month into my trip I invited a group of those boys that have since left, who are still in the Puebla area, to our weekly Sunday soccer game. They got to meet some of the younger boys and see the place where they grew up again. We laughed about memories from their time at El Ipo and about other boys who had been there with us. They would tell me about how the new-school doesn’t play soccer as well as the old-school and how spoiled the new kids are now. They told me about girls and friends from the past and of the trouble they got in while at IPODERAC. But in all of this, they were talking to me about their childhood. The childhood they had because of their experience on that little plot of land off la Carretera Federal in Atlixco, Puebla. A childhood which had a different trajectory until they ended up there. This is a true testament to the transformational​ work they do at IPODERAC. So again, I am thrilled to tell you that our brothers are all right. And hopefully soon we can be saying the same about our soon to be IPODERAC sisters…

Un F​uerte ​A​brazo,






Donate Our Blog Contact Us