Location: San Quintin, Baja California, Mexico
San Quintin is rural – three hours south of Ensenada, one of Baja’s biggest tourist destinations, the small town has grown quickly in the last two decades and services haven’t always kept up with demand. Medical clinics are few and far between, fresh water access is sporadic, and there are almost no childcare options for parents who work during the day. Still, each year many families move to the area for work. The temperate weather makes the peninsula perfect for growing fruits and vegetables all year long, and the Pacific Ocean just a few miles to the West is one of the most productive marine ecosystems in the world.
When parents were away for the day at work in San Quintin, it was typical for the eldest sibling to stay home to watch their brothers and sisters during the day. Marine Frizon, who leads Driscoll’s Social & Environmental Impact department in Mexico, says that the situation wasn’t sustainable. “Instead of going to school, the older sibling would usually take care of their brothers and sisters during the week, and they would quickly fall behind in their coursework or drop out entirely. It was really hard for families because they wanted to make sure that their children were in a safe place, and there was just nowhere that offered childcare or after school care in the neighborhood.”
Enter Oasis - a non-profit, free access childcare program located right in the heart of San Quintin. Driscoll’s wasn’t the only one who had taken notice of the community’s issue - Oasis’ founder, Karly Dallas, had a mission to open a facility that would provide a safe environment for kids to receive tutoring, attention, and a hot meal while their parents were at work. Dallas approached Driscoll’s with an offer to partner to help Oasis construct a brand new facility in Las Aves, a neighborhood that’s home to many families who work in agriculture. “It was a perfect opportunity – we were able to collaborate to solve for this problem that had been facing the community for years.”
With a grant from Driscoll’s and funding from other local partners, Oasis’ new building was completed in 2017. The center is home to a garden, computer lab, bustling kitchen, and classrooms that serve more than 120 children during the week. Teachers and volunteers at Oasis provide more than just education during the day, they provide mentorship – local schools now know that if they have a student who’s falling behind grade level, they can go to Oasis and receive the attention and care they need to catch up with the class. Students regularly take field trips to museums or aquariums and visit local businesses, including Driscoll’s, to learn about future job opportunities in their home state.
“Families are happier now – the parents know that their children are in a safe place and are learning,” says Frizon. “25 years ago, there was almost nothing in San Quintin. Now, there are homes, businesses, schools, and when you head to the city center in the morning people are out having breakfast and shopping. There has been a lot of improvement in the area, because the community has worked together to change the town. You can see this same change in the children – they’re growing, learning, and working together as well. In San Quintin, Oasis has been just that - a refuge for this community.”