Sheltered dining facility

Funding required: $25,560

Beneficiaries: 350 children

Completion date: August 2023

Country: Mexico

Executive summary

Nestled in Mexico’s southernmost state, Chiapas, is the small town of Río Jordán. Home to about 1,400 people, houses here are typically constructed of dirt floors, wood walls and tin roofs. Most adults work on nearby plantations, earning the equivalent of roughly $135 per month. The dominant ethnic group is Tzeltal, a Maya people who mainly reside in hillside communities across Chiapas state.

The Ha’Lequil be Student Centre has been operating in Río Jordán since 2011, but the local church here has been running children and youth ministry programs for even longer and they are passionate about reaching children and their families with the gospel. In fact, they are already serving 350 children at the centre—a quarter of the community’s population at large. The church hopes to reach even more children in the years to come.

However, accommodating such a large group of beneficiaries safely is becoming a real challenge for the church. At present, their building lacks an indoor dining area where children can sit during mealtimes. To this point children have had to eat outdoors—in all weather conditions. On very windy days, children are exposed to blowing dust and debris which also gets into their food.

Staff at the church feel that the unhygienic conditions are contributing to frequent respiratory and gastrointestinal problems among children. Further, they recognize that COVID-19 is here to stay, and that safety standards at the building must be adapted accordingly. Providing children with a spacious, hygienic environment is critical to keeping them safe and healthy, especially as the program continues to grow in the years to come. The church wants to construct a new kitchen and dining area, but they don’t have the resources to do it on their own and are reaching out for help.

With your help, the local church will build a new dining area that can seat all the children at the same time. Children will also learn good hygiene habits that including washing their hands before and after meals and eating in a clean environment.


Did you know?

In Mexico, most Tzeltals live in groups across 20 municipalities and abide by a Mexican system called “usos y costumbres” which accommodates traditional indigenous politics and systems of governing.


The Ha’Lequil be Student Centre in Río Jordán, Mexico, serves a total of 350 children and their families. However, the church’s current facility lacks an appropriate indoor space where children can eat on centre days. Currently students have to eat their meals outdoors in all kinds of weather and are exposed to dust and debris on windy days. Many of the children suffer from chronic respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, and staff feel that the conditions at the church are a contributing factor.

Recognizing the need, the church has been raising funds for this project on their own for some time. However, their resources are very limited and the need is pressing, as the current facility does not meet national safety standards. Without improvements to the building, the future of the program itself could be at risk.

The need

Your investment will support the construction of a spacious 8 x 14-metre dining area that can easily accommodate children at mealtimes, ensuring they have a fully sheltered, hygienic place to eat. A permanent dining space will improve hygiene conditions at the church and enable staff to help children learn and practise better hygiene habits to help prevent illness and disease. Your gift will mainly be used to cover the cost of building materials, as local contributions will pay for the services of an architect and skilled labourers. The church has already formed a committee that will oversee the construction process.

What your gift will do

Your gift will help the Ha’Lequil be Student Centre in Río Jordán, Mexico, build a fully sheltered 8 x 14.3-metre dining area to safely accommodate 350 beneficiaries, including:

  • Preliminary work
  • Construction materials: cement, sand, gravel, rods, etc.
  • Electrical installation
  • Doors and windows
  • Finishes (tiling and painting)
  • Labour
  • Tables and chairs
  • Opening ceremony


  • Local contribution: $7,839.32
  • Handling of funds: Compassion Mexico will distribute funds and ensure that this intervention remains within budget.
  • Monitoring and follow-up: A church committee will oversee construction and work with an architect to ensure that the new space meets all safety regulations and building codes.

No less than 80 per cent of your donation will be used for program activities and a maximum of 20 per cent for fundraising and administration. If we exceed our funding goal for the initiative shown, the remaining funds will be used to fund other programs where the need is greatest.