Former Immigrant Helps Hometown with Libraries

Angelo Cabrera (Photo via Facebook)

Angelo Cabrera (Photo via Facebook)

They call him the “Angel of Education” – and for good reason: Ángelo Cabrera has devoted most of his life to contribute to the education of immigrants’ kids. “I have always tried to motivate kids to study and be more competitive,” he told Diario de México USA. “My endeavor is to generate changes that favor the migrant community.”

Originally from San Antonio Texcala, Puebla, Ángelo Cabrera arrived to New York when he was barely 15. It was the ’90s and back then, just like now, life was not easy for an undocumented worker like him: labor exploitation, discrimination and homelessness were some of the situations Ángelo had to deal with as he forged his path…

And so he did: After he majored in political science and got a master’s degree in public administration, in 2001 he founded the Mexican-American Students’ Alliance (MASA), an organization that seeks to promote “educational attainment, committed leadership and civic engagement among underserved families in New York City.”

With the willpower that characterizes him, two years after the United States embassy denied him a visa, Ángelo kept working from his hometown to help kids stay focused in their studies.

In partnership with El Colegio Baden Powell (the Baden Powell School) in the state of México, he began a library project for the San Antonio Texcala community.

Why a project centered on reading? We ask Ángelo Cabrera.

The project started last November, after a personal motivation speech that I did at the Baden Powell School. At the end of the speech, I thought of asking the students what they would be willing to do for society. Two weeks later, the school told me that the students wanted to work to reopen a library in my hometown. And that’s how we managed to collect and donate, just this March, 1,500 books for the library at Josefa Ortiz de Domínguez primary school in San Antonio Texcala.

Once we are able to contact the Puebla community in the U.S., the project will consist in offering grants to motivate students to focus on reading. We are also thinking of giving an award at the end of the year to those who read the most, to reward them for their effort.

In your view, what’s the relation between education and immigration?

San Antonio Texcala is a community with a high immigration rate. I could tell you that more than half of our youth has gone to the U.S. in search of a better future. Part of our project of donating books to the library is to motivate our kids to study and stay here, instead of migrating abroad.

After all these years, what else needs to be done in terms of education?

Let’s say two things: One, to create community centers to help kids in their education. And two, create spaces for grandparents. Here in the village there are many seniors who, regrettably, spend all day locked inside their homes and I don’t think it’s because of lack of spaces. Grandparents need places for them: to be taken care of, and to move a little bit away from their sadness because their family is far away.

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