ISO is going to Mexico

The group will be collecting donations in Kent Campus Center until the end of the semester.


Submitted by Walter Lain

ISO club members pass out donations during the 2018 visit to Mexico. The group as been unable to visit since, until this year.

by Jenna Prather, Staff Reporter

The International Student Organization (ISO) is driving to Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, over winter break to hand out supplies to families in need.

Planning to leave on Dec. 16, ISO will be taking a group of students to El Paso, Texas. In collaboration with the El Paso high school, Lydia Patterson Institute (LPI), they will bring their donations across the border to Juarez.

This will be the group’s fifth time going to Mexico in the past six years.

Miguel Sanchez, a Simpson senior and a graduate of LPI, participated in this event during his freshman year. But, COVID-19 has prevented the event from happening for the past two years.

“I think all of us are very excited about it,” Sanchez said. “We’re accepting donations pretty much until we leave.”

Their donation box is located on the first floor of Kent, and the group is looking for anyone to jump in and donate something that ISO can give to people in need. The group mainly needs clothes, but also toys, books (preferably in Spanish), or even cash that the group will use to buy anything the families may need.

“It’s easier for us to do cash because we can just go there and purchase stuff,” Walter Lain, Assistant Dean of Multicultural and International Affairs, said. “Last time we did this, we took the cash and bought maybe 20 or 30 backpacks, and footballs, dolls, crayons and things like that.”

To transport the participants and the donations, they will be taking a van and have received funding from SGA to cover the costs of the gas and tolls along the nearly 20-hour drive.

They received help from the Juarez church organization, assisting them with places to stay in so that Simpson did not have to pay extra for hotel rooms.

“We’re staying in a place called Amigos de Cristo,” Lain said. “And Angel Soto arranged for us to stay at this place, so that’s primarily where we will stay.”

Lain also stressed the importance of what they are doing.

“It’s very important to me that we get a chance to do this. Not simply because of it but because I feel like we hear so much about immigration in our news, but my past experience has been that when we see the great need, we realize that this is much more complicated than people seeking asylum,” Lain said. “Chances are that we won’t necessarily be distributing these things to people seeking asylum but to people who are permanently living in conditions where they’re impoverished.”

According to data from a development evaluation commission (CONEVAL), at the end of 2020, nearly 56 million Mexicans, or about 44% of the population, were below the poverty line. Of the 56 million, nearly 20% are experiencing extreme poverty.

“They’re not making enough money to have toys or clothes and things of that nature,” Lain said. “So, it is very important, I think, that we get to share that with our students.”