The ethic of reciprocity is the cornerstone of all of the world's great belief systems. Hinduism, considered to be the oldest...a federation of loosely banded religions and cultures...put it into these words over 5000 years ago: "This is the sum of duty; do naught onto others what you would not have them do unto you." Judaism, also one of the earliest, went even a step further: "What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellowman. This is the entire Law; all the rest is commentary."
A new spin on this 'do unto others' theme gained traction in 1784 when Benjamin Franklin stated the premise that the recipient of his kindness should 'pay me by lending this Sum to him, another honest Man in similar Distress; enjoining him to discharge the Debt by a like operation, when he shall be able, and shall meet with another opportunity. I hope it may thus go thro' many hands..." Similar iterations were voiced by other worthies in the next few centuries: Ralph Waldo Emerson in 1841, in the 1950's by science fiction authors Robert A Heinlein and Ray Bradbury as well as by Ohio State football coaching legend Woody Hayes, in the 1983 Marvel Comic 'What Price a Life?' by Peter Parker and Bruce Banner (nee Spider Man and The Incredible Hulk) and in 2000 by novelist Catherine Ryan Hyde's novel (and eponymous film) 'Pay It Forward' starring Kevin Spacey, Helen Hunt, and Haley Joel Osmont.
Actually, northern Mexico was the home of an expat couple who brought the concept to the worthy children of their adopted homeland five years before Ms. Hyde's novel and film.
In November of 1995, Judy and Ken Kesson started the Baja Scholarship Foundation with the goal, as they put it, of achieving "...supporting outstanding students in the nearby Mexican communities who were at risk of leaving school early due to financial hardships."
Judy shared the odyssey in all the detail necessary to understand the challenges that faced them nearly twenty years ago.
"In Mexico, primary school is mandatory, with minimal fees for inscripicion (tuition) and some related costs for mandatory uniforms and supplies.After that students may go onto secondary school, roughly equivalent to junior high school in the U.S. system. Preparatory school follows for the college bound or the option of trade or technical school to prepare for careers such as bookkeeping, computer operator, secretary, mechanic, nurse or paramedic."
Though the costs are relatively manageable for the early years "...costs quickly escalate when sending children to secondary and preparatory schools...trade schools are approximately $1500/year and universities from $2000-$4000/year, not including textbooks, computers, etc. When the BSF was established, we committed to support our scholarship recipients not only through secondary school but until they were fully educated members of their communities and have met their career goals. Many parents and grandparents have wept tears of astonishment and happiness upon hearing this 'unbelievable' news."
The details of what has been accomplished by this organization are astounding. "The BSF currently has 48 students. While this may not seem like many, it is a huge commitment when one considers that all the necessary education related expenses for them are covered by their sponsors...through their higher education and until they are established in their professions. Families and friends also benefit since parents who have had difficulty in putting food on the table have one less stress factor in their lives. We are proud to have a new teacher, a computer engineer, an electrical engineer, two certified accountants, a paramedic, a chef graduated from the Culinary Institute of Mexico City, as well as a fully accredited doctor, now back in their communities."
For those of you who have been leery of supporting an organization when hearing the litany that 'a portion of the proceeds' goes to a noble cause, Senora Kesson's final and emphatic words were reassuring." Absolutely NO donations are spent for the operation of the BSF. EVERY PENNY given to the BSF benefits 'our kids.' Even stamps for mailings are paid for by Board members.Many of you who will be reading this, have a home in Baja or come here for a get away. Participation in the BSF is a great way to give back some of the joy we get from this country."
Hmmm...this almost sounds like a riff on the 'pay it forward' theme, doesn't it? Actually it gets even better than that. Judy and Ken are proud to announce that recipients of the BSF's altruisma over the past twenty years have started their own fundraising mechanism to help new members of the group who have been chosen to follow on in their footsteps.
If you would like to help or would like to know more about the program. please feel free to contact Judie Kesson, President or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can also reach the BSF via phone: U.S (760) 208-2840 or, in Mexico (661) 613-2359