Tzu Chi’s Hope Classroom Helps Tijuana in Environmental Protection

National Headquarters  |  April 30, 2024
The children in the Tijuana Hope classroom will pick up trash for the community and protect the earth.
Children from Hope Classroom pick up trash for the community, protecting the Earth. Photo/Chengyuan Yang

Written by Meijuan Su
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Andrew Larracuente

Tzu Chi’s Hope Classroom can be found in underprivileged areas. Many disadvantaged families there build makeshift homes, lacking water, electricity, and even fixed addresses. Although Tijuana’s city government provides free garbage collection services, the lack of clear addresses among residents leads to rampant littering, turning littering into a deeply ingrained habit. Over time, the area became filled with yellow sand, with litter strewn everywhere and rampant pollution. Some even resorted to burning garbage locally, resulting in thick smoke and unbearable air pollution.

Children in the Hope classroom are expected to hold plastic bottles discarded by others.
Children from the Hope Classroom, recycling discarded plastic bottles. Photo/Chengyuan Yang
The local sanitary environment is poor and the floor is full of garbage.
Students pick up the trash for recycling. Photo/Chengyuan Yang

The students and teachers from Hope Classroom often pick up trash on the streets. Tzu Chi volunteers not only teach but also lead by example, guiding residents to love the environment and create a clean living environment of green hills and clear waters.

Pick up trash and return home with a full load.
Tzu Chi volunteers collect trash and return with a full load. Photo/Chengyuan Yang

Promoting Environmental Protection at Public School Spring Festival

As spring arrives, everything comes to life, and it’s time for the annual spring festival in Mexico. On March 22, Escuela Primaria Citlalmina specially invited Tzu Chi volunteers and students from Hope Classroom to participate in the festival. Seizing this opportunity, Tzu Chi volunteers seamlessly integrated environmental protection and resource recycling concepts into the program, entertainingly educating the public.

On March 22, Tzu Chi volunteers and students from Hope Classroom arrived at Escuela Primaria Citlalmina to participate in the spring festival. Although the school is one of the extremely impoverished ones locally, the campus was decorated with colorful balloons, and the small playground was packed with children and parents. Students from Hope Classroom performed a sign language program titled “One Family” on stage. Amidst warm music, the children performed smoothly and uniformly, perfectly conveying Tzu Chi’s spirit of unity and mutual assistance through sign language and song to the audience.

Students in the Hope Classroom performed the sign language program "One Family" on stage.
Students from Hope Classroom perform "One Family" in sign language on stage. Photo/Roger Kao
Students in Hope Classroom display Tzu Chi environmental protection hats.
Students from Hope Classroom are showcasing Tzu Chi's environmental hats. Photo/Roger Kao

After the performance, the children from Hope Classroom put on environmental products from Tzu Chi, confidently showcasing them to the audience. These children come from local disadvantaged families, but under Tzu Chi’s humanitarian care and education, their confidence and courage have significantly improved. They took to the stage one by one to display environmental products, winning applause and praise from the audience of parents and teachers and inspiring enthusiasm for environmental protection among them! Many parents expressed their intention to join the recycling efforts! Parent Kimberly was particularly excited, saying, “It’s been a very enjoyable experience. We must keep the streets clean. We’re here to help with recycling.”

Students in the Hope Classroom demonstrate Tzu Chi's eco-friendly blankets to the audience.
Students from Hope Classroom are showcasing Tzu Chi's environmental blankets. Photo/Roger Kao

Hope Classroom teacher Victor was proud to see the children displaying the environmental knowledge they learned in class to the audience, becoming pioneers of environmental action in the Tijuana area. He said, “The performance went smoothly, and the children loved it. We did some recycling work, helping the school collect recyclables. Students Maria, Jose, Daniel, and Adrian also demonstrated items made from recycled materials. This activity is important because we make people aware that we must take care of our planet.”

I'm glad to be here today. As a model for environmental protection, I was nervous at first, but we're doing this to stop people from littering and start recycling.

Leading by Example by Picking up Trash

After the spring event ended, parents and children left, leaving behind piles of trash. Without hesitation, the students and teachers from Hope Classroom and Tzu Chi volunteers immediately started picking up trash and cleaning up the area.

The actions of students and teachers from Hope Classroom and Tzu Chi volunteers surprised and shamed some teachers and parents from the public school, who then joined the Tzu Chi volunteers in cleaning up. Working together, the once messy scene was transformed into a clean and tidy environment.

One teacher from the school rushed to help clean up and curiously asked the Tzu Chi volunteers, “What school are you from? Why do your children look so different?” The Tzu Chi volunteers promptly introduced her to the Hope Classroom and warmly invited her to visit the campus for further understanding. She gave a thumbs-up, praising Tzu Chi’s environmental education. With everyone’s efforts, the previously cluttered scene became pristine and clean!

Spreading Environmental Concepts to Every Home

The principal of Escuela Primaria Citlalmina expressed gratitude to the students and volunteers from Hope Classroom and Tzu Chi for participating in the spring festival and promoting environmental concepts and knowledge to everyone. She said, “We are very grateful to Tzu Chi for sharing how to promote environmental protection, recycling, and how to use recycled materials. Every one of our students has benefited greatly because they can all be taught, as these (recyclables) are present in everyone’s home. Unfortunately, some people don’t know how to reuse these recyclables. Now they (Tzu Chi) have provided us with very effective information… We hope to continue (collaborating).”

Students in the classroom are expected to pick up recyclable trash.
Students from Hope Classroom pick up recyclable garbage. Photo/Chengyuan Yang
Recycling and sorting garbage.
Hope Classroom students recycle and sort garbage. Photo/Chengyuan Yang

The principal also said they would participate in the community environmental protection event organized by Tzu Chi on May 11th, joining Tzu Chi volunteers to love the Earth and protect our home!

We're all going there so that we can start teaching people to recycle. There's so much garbage there—all sorts of different garbage everywhere. Many people have burned a lot of things, and the smoke they produce is everywhere… It's a place where we cooperate with our community to make a change.

In Tijuana, the benevolent actions and positive influence shown by Tzu Chi volunteers and children are like the spring rain moistening people’s hearts. Good thoughts ferment in the heart, and good deeds are passed on like relay batons between people. As the saying goes, “Green hills are always green, and clear waters flow continuously; cherishing them is a joint effort between us.” Tzu Chi’s actions promote environmental protection, resonating with the community’s green call. We look forward to this butterfly effect gradually transforming the entire community as we work together to build a Great Love Environmental Village!

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