El Puente de Esperanza I.A.P.
History and Timeline
The institution El Puente de Esperanza I.A.P. originated with the volunteer work of its founder Ms. Conchita Walker, a native and resident of Hoonah, Alaska. Walker began offering education, food, and housing assistance to underprivileged girls wishing to attend high school and university in Mexico. Their circumstances compelled them to choose domestic or farm work instead, crushing their aspirations to pursue higher education.
In 1994, Walker initiated Proyecto Posada de María to help nine young women from Colón, Querétaro continue their education. She provided a house in Santiago de Querétaro where the students would live. Walker recognized that young men also needed support, so she rented another house nearby. She opened this second project, Proyecto de José, and welcomed seven teenage boys from Colón, Qro. to their new home.
Ms. Walker also noticed another reality in Santiago de Querétaro: the women street vendors were indigenous people. In 1995, she opened a sewing workshop in Querétaro for low income Otomí women that would offer them an opportunity to improve their circumstances. Eventually, 12 local women completed the workshop and returned to their communities as trainers.
Today, El Puente de Esperanza hosts students from indigenous communities in the Sierra Gorda, San Joaquín, Cadereyta, and Amealco, Qro. and provides services such as health care, lodging, food, school fees, medical services, and clothing. The students also receive a comprehensive education, which includes courses on values and personal development along with academic and job training.