Rotarians from Mexia help Mexican students

By Roxanne McKnight
Staff Writer

Mexia college professor and Rotarian Lynn Simpson has long had a soft spot for impoverished children in Mexico.
It started in 1996 when he was living in the Texas Panhandle town of Big Spring. He was teaching in a college there and accepted an invitation to go with a Rotary friend to visit a school in the Mexican state of Chihuahua.

“Part of the trip was to go to this little town away up in the mountains called Creel,” he said recently.

Creel was founded as a railway depot and named for Enrique Creel, the governor of Chihuahua, at the time of its founding. The population of the area is an estimated 20,000, though Creel itself is closer to about 5,500.

That first trip was mostly a sightseeing trip for Simpson, but he was inspired to begin helping the people, especially children, living there.

Simpson took the information back to his Rotary Club in Big Spring, and the group decided they wanted to do a similar project of their own, so they chose a school, Emiliano Zapata Primary and Elementary School, and began sponsoring it.

In Mexico, there are many primary and elementary schools, so the younger children do not have to travel far to attend, Simpson explained. However, once students reach about sixth grade, the schools are fewer and more centralized, usually in larger towns; and families have to pay for their children’s education.

“At that point, you get a lot of dropouts, so they try to squeeze in as much in these little primary schools as they can possibly get,” he said.

“The problem was they didn’t have any way of feeding the kids,” he said of Emiliano Zapata Elementary. “So if they got there and hadn’t eaten breakfast at home, they didn’t have any way of feeding them lunch, so they’d try to get them home as quickly as they could.”

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