Christel House International Transforms the Lives of Impoverished Children Around The World

BY: LISA VAUGHAN

Christel House was established in 1998 by Founder and CEO Christel DeHaan. Christel House is a non-profit organization that transforms the lives of impoverished children around the world by breaking the cycle of poverty. The organization joins the fight against one of the most serious public health problems of the 21st century. One in three children aged six to 11-years-old is overweight or obese. Three out of four people over 20-years-old are also affected by this disease.

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According to a report submitted by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) on February 18, reported Mexico City has an alarming number of girls, boys, and adolescents that suffer from the consequences of poor diet and a food system that ignores their needs. Mexico is among the first places worldwide regarding this public health problem. In addition to Mexico, Christel House has a presence in the United States, India, South Africa and in 2021 will have a presence in Jamaica.

The mission of Christel House Mexico is to transform the lives of underprivileged children around the world and break the circle of poverty. They help them become self-sufficient and responsible people in their community, as members who contribute to society. Their robust K-12 curriculum focuses on academic excellence and is combined with a strong character development program. This gives students the skills and aptitudes necessary to compete successfully in the complex 21st-century society.

A change in life habits is important and necessary to reduce the death of millions of people. This is why, among its Sustainable Development Goals, the organization promotes prevention and education as tools to understand that the way of life continues being the main cause of fatal diseases in the world.

Christel House is more than a school, they seek to boost education for children in situations of vulnerability. They do this by providing a robust educational program from primary to high school. They offer full-time school, English classes, extra school workshops, sports, and cultural activities along with vocational guidance. Monitoring and opportunities for graduation are also provided.

The program focuses on the development of their students but encourages them to discover themselves by understanding what is important and what they want to become. One of their programs is College and Careers, in which the staff works with each of the students individually to help them build their life plans through activities, coaching, and special events. The daily school schedule is from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Students that attend the after-school programs remain at school until 4 p.m. In-school services also include dental, auditory, and nutritional monitoring campaigns. Visual campaigns are provided in health facilities due to the needed equipment.

An essential part of the College and Career Program is to provide follow-up and support the graduates. The organization keeps in touch with the graduates, evaluates what they are doing, how much they earn and especially if they have broken the cycle of poverty. Also provided in the program, alumni are given a stipend while attending university.

All students receive uniforms and school supplies, as well as two balanced meals a day that consists of breakfast and lunch. Both meals are provided in the institution dining room by an external supplier, specialized in serving companies. A nutritionist establishes all the menus. Christel House has a “Distintivo H”, a government certification on how to manage and prepare food that is usually for hotels and restaurants. They have the certification because they want to certify that everything that is served, approximately 1,500 meals per day is done properly. This effort resulted in 236,438 breakfasts and meals served from 2018 to 2019. 

Weekly sports classes and after school workshops are offered to the students which include soccer, lima lama, basketball, volleyball, dance, and yoga. The NGO makes it clear that to generate a change in Mexico they must take a series of integral and complementary measures, such as the promotion of sport, the improvement of nutritional information to the population and provide programs that include the food component.

The School for Parents program includes mental health and physical health. Tools are provided on socio-emotional development, sex education, family health, and nutrition. Nutritional monitoring is provided twice a year for the health team who measures, and weights all of the students. The information is retained on record so a personal follow-up may be conducted accordingly.

Currently, Christel House helps more than 4,600 children in poverty in eight learning centers. Eighty percent of alumni either continue their higher education or obtain professional jobs. Christel House Mexico students have a ninety-nine percent passing rate on exams and most of the graduates continue their higher education. They become productive citizens. Moreover, many of them obtain jobs within the most important international corporations. Christel House Mexico graduates are self-confident, hardworking, responsible and ethical, with a great passion to give back to their communities and to protect their families.

The first students that completed the full cylcle of 1st grade through 12th grade graduated in 2016. Some of the private and public universities those students are attending are Universidad Iberoamericana, Universidad Anahuac, Universidad Panamericana, Universidad del Valle de México, Instituto Politecnico Nacional, and Universidad Autonoma Metropolitana.

In Mexico, graduates are working at SURA, Harley Davidson, along with jobs and scholarships at Deloitte and Alsea. Within their centers around the world, students are working at Dell, EY, Deloitte Touche, Oracle, Northern Trust, Oberoi Hotels, Microsoft, Nestle, and other global companies.

Christel House International may be reached on Facebook, online at www.christelhouse.org, by email on children@christelhouse.org or by phone on (317) 464-2030.