ROSARITO, B.C. Mex– Alejandra Martinez loves her small Mexican schoolhouse. She says she wants to be a doctor after she graduates high school on the Baja California, Mexico coast. If only life were that simple.
Martinez is apart of what some refer to as the Lost Generation. American-born students who were forced back to Mexico because their parents lived and worked in the United States illegally.
As a little girl she remembers going to the park in Los Angeles and having fun with her family. She says re-establishing life in Mexico was a challenge because she barely spoke Spanish. She depended on a local teacher who was willing to teach her how to speak what should have been her native language.
Her mother Rita says they had to return after 9-11. Work was more difficult to find for those living in the United States without proper documentation. With three children they were forced to go back to Mexico to survive not knowing it would also affect the future of their kids education.
The kids, although dual U.S.-Mexican citizens, weren’t properly documented in Mexico. After the eldest got to high school school officials said she couldn’t continue. Her father who knew Jim Hawkins, an American citizen living on the Baja coast, asked for help so that his kids could continue to go to school.
Hawkins, one of 14,000 Americans living on the coast according to the tourism authority, is a board member of the Baja Blues Fest Organization. The American non-profit holds a festival in Rosarito, Mexico to raise money for kids– like Martinez- who are in need.
“With the larger number of deportations in the U.S. there’s any number– we don’t know the number– of families that are in the same situation as Rita and her family,” said Hawkins.
The blues fest money doesn’t just go to undocumented kids in Mexico. They also support the local library and orphanages. He says by ensuring the kids education more are graduating with professional skills like doctors and veterinarians– making life more sustainable in Mexico.
The 4th Annual Baja Blues Fest is coming at the Rosarito Beach Resort & Hotel August 21-23. They are hosting seven bands this year. Organizers say the festival is ranked 6th in the world for best blues festivals by American Blues Magazine.
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For more information: http://www.bajabluesfest.org/