As the main private employer in the Mexican state of Michoacán, we touch the lives of many thousands of families in the area – and we can’t afford not to think about their economic and social wellbeing. We’re working to create positive change in local communities by building skills, awareness and self-sufficiency – sowing the seeds for a better future for everyone.
Cultivating Futures (Cultivando Futuros) is a nine-year community development partnership between ArcelorMittal and the NGO ChildFund Mexico. In 2012, we began working in six communities to determine people’s needs and prioritise our actions in key areas such as health & nutrition, education, child protection and the environment. These priorities were chosen to address issues identified in the Lázaro Cárdenas area by Childfund Mexico – such as crime, social and economic inequality, a lack of infrastructure, poor educational opportunities, drug and substance abuse, poor health, and water and air pollution.
Our aims are to give the people in these communities – particularly children, youth and women – the skills and resources to develop and improve their own environment. And to create a self-sustaining model for supporting people’s health and wellness long after our direct involvement has finished.
Progress so far
Five years in, the programme is making a difference to more than 1,300 affiliated children and their families and, indirectly, to over 7,000 people in these key areas every year. In 2017, our activities fell into five main areas:
- Health and nutrition.More than 190 children attended monthly sessions to learn about food, nutrition and healthy lifestyles. And more than 3,500 people of all ages were given free health consultations, along with follow-up monitoring, nutritional supplements and referrals for the children if needed. The Mexican Red Cross also trained 35 people as emergency responders.
- Child protection. 270 children and their parents/caregivers participated in an early stimulation programme and in activities to promote the prevention of domestic violence.
- Schoolchildren are being given lessons on reading, listening, teamwork, critical and creative thinking and technology. Young adults are learning about leadership and entrepreneurship, confidence and self-esteem, and healthy lifestyle choices. In 2017, 56 students took part in the Ministry of Education online high school programme (see the quote below).
- So far, we’ve planted seven orchards for schools and families, and built special centres to teach people how to treat greywater, dry fruit and make compost. We’ve also run campaigns to create awareness around rubbish disposal and other environmental issues.
- Recreation and culture. There are recreational and cultural events throughout the year, such as soccer and basketball games, film clubs and arts and crafts sessions, with more than 315 children attending in 2017. We also ran a summer school, where around 330 children enjoyed activities like dancing, volleyball and basketball tournaments, arts and crafts, cooking classes, recycling lessons, carnival theme parties and more.
Seeds of change
Over halfway through our nine-year programme, we’re starting to see this direct work in communities making a real difference to health and nutrition, child protection and education. ChildFund Mexico monitors the programmes each year against benchmarks – and we’re forming new partnerships to help us reach our goal to create a self-sustaining community model. Not only is this helping us to build positive relationships and trust in our communities, but in 2016, Cultivating Futures was recognised as a best practice initiative by the Mexican Center for Philanthropy (CEMEFI).