Catlin Gabel family's independent service in New Mexico
By Carrie Gotkowitz
Los Niños/Via International is a community development organization headquartered in San Diego, California, and Tijuana, Mexico. Our family has been involved with Los Niños for many years – my son Daniel's grandfather, Joseph Gotkowitz, started the microcredit program in the early 1990s. I was familiar with the Los Niños programs through contacts in San Diego, but had never visited any of the program sites.
During spring break 2010, Daniel and I spent two days at the Los Niños program in Mexicali, Mexico. We visited a cactus farm, a beehive cooperative, a ladrillera (brickmaking business), and a preschool, which is the site of a xeroscape landscaping and playground installation project. We ate meals and slept at the Los Niños dormitory in Mexicali.
Los Niños Mexicali volunteers have helped with sustainable farming development projects, bridge building, xeroscape landscape installation, and playground construction. Volunteer work is directed by agronomists or construction supervisors. Los Niños provides Spanish language interpreters. Voluntourism trips include discussion and education on community health and nutrition, local and global economic forces driving migration, and U.S.-Mexico border relations. Volunteer and community contributions are used to fund projects.
Los Niños/Via International has a 37-year history in community development work. The organization focuses on family health and food security, nutrition, and ecology training, microenterprise and microcredit, community leadership education, and voluntourism programs. Los Niños offers voluntourism programs in San Diego, New Mexico, Tijuana and Mexicali, Mexico, and Guatemala.