Posts Tagged ‘Juan Porto’

Hope Program Students Explore their Heritage, by Juan Porto, Back2Back Hope Program Director, Monterrey, Mexico

June 27, 2011

Our Hope Program students recently traveled on a five-day field trip to Mexico City.  This trip was intended to serve as an opportunity to expose the students to the historical and cultural background of Mexico. We visited the anthropology museum, the historical center, the National Palace, the ruins of the Templo Mayor, the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Palace of Fine Arts, the Paseo de la Reforma, the Pyramids of Teotihuacan and the New Museum Soumaya, which has recently opened and is already considered one of the best art museums in the world, with over 16,000 works of art. The museum has works comparable to Dali, Degass, Van Gogh, Picasso, Tamayo, Diego Rivera and many others.

On our way back from Mexico City, we stopped in Galeana. This town is home to three of the boys from the Joseph House, a Hope Program home on the Back2Back campus. It was exciting to let them show off their town and some of their relatives in that town.

We were able to thank God for the opportunity to travel together and discover more about Mexico. I also enjoyed watching them try different foods and adapt to new experiences. They had great attitudes even when they were hot or tired and gained a tremendous amount of appreciation for their heritage.

I was very happy to share the history of our country with the boys and to collectively learn how to create a better society for our future.

Through the Hope Education Program, Back2Back offers students from children’s homes a way to continue their education when free public school ends at ninth grade. The students stay on the Back­2Back campus in homes with staff families (house parents), experiencing a healthy family life. Students are mentored, provided with an education, and encouraged to pursue their dreams so that they can become self-sustaining individuals. To learn more about contributing to Back2Back’s Hope Program, please contact our US office at 513-754-0300, ext 1707.

Harvest Time, by Juan Porto, Back2Back Mexico Staff

October 12, 2009

Two years ago we moved into a new home, The Joseph House.  This is one of the Hope Program homes on the Back2Back Mexico campus.

There is a big walnut tree in the garden outside our house.  It was in very bad shape –  dry and unhealthy.  There were construction materials like cement, gravel, and dirt all around the tree.  We thought that it might not survive, but we decided to be patient.  That second year, we spent time watering it, caring for it, hoping that it would survive and grow stronger.  But that year there was a big plague that killed all of its leaves.

This year was different.  We tried to remove all the worms’ nests from the plague.  We hoped the tree would make it but time passed and still the tree was barren.  Finally, new leaves began to grow and soon the tree had an abundance of beautiful leaves, even more than before the plague.  It was much healthier and stronger than before. We were not expecting fruits, but one day as I was cutting the grass around the trunk, I discovered fruit on the ground and I saw chipmunks eating the nuts that had fallen.

In that moment, I thought about hope and how I see evidence of it all around me.

For Oscar, a Hope Program student who recently graduated from college, there were probably many people who dismissed him, underestimating his potential to rise above a difficult past, a childhood in a children’s home.  Even at times, I felt frustrated during my journey with him once he left the children’s home and entered Back2Back’s Hope Program.  But now, after completing the Hope Program, he has hope, skills, opportunities and the ability to live a better life and change the future.

It’s time to harvest the first fruits.  Sometimes in the beginning, the fruit is not abundant, but we must remember just that – that it is only the beginning.  There is more to come.  If we continue pursuing God faithfully and diligently, we will see a harvest.

Since we had nursed that tree back to health and watched it grow, we were overjoyed as we watched it blossom and finally produce a harvest.  My daughters and I were very excited to try the first nuts.  That first tiny piece of pecan was like a delicacy in my mouth. Although there was nothing inherent in that pecan that made it better than pecans from any other tree, we enjoyed it so much more because we had been participants in the process.

Now, Oscar has graduated from culinary school and secured a great job in an upscale restaurant in the city.  Oscar’s manager has shared that he plans to promote him to the position of head chef soon. He appreciates Oscar’s commitment to excellence and quality.  Celebrating Oscar’s success feels similar to the joy I found watching the walnut tree blossom and later discovering and tasting its first fruits.

Thank you God for your perfect timing.

Oscar and Angel, two Hope Program students, who recently graduated from culinary school

Oscar and Angel, two Hope Program students, who recently graduated from culinary school