In 1980, David Lynch, a public school teacher from New York, planned to spend a month as a volunteer serving the 35 families whose means of survival was scavenging at the municipal garbage dump in Tijuana, Mexico. After returning for two more summers, Lynch, struck with the conviction that education could lift the children there out of poverty, decided to stay and has been educating children there for 26 years.
Leaving his tenured teaching position behind, Lynch set up a tarp near where the children worked with their parents at the dumpsite. Here he offered an English class which eventually became a complete education system, called Responsibility, Inc., serving 400 children per year. As financial support for buildings and teachers became available, Responsibility grew to provide classes for children ages 3 to 7 and a computer lab and art school for all the children living around the city dump. Lynch also set up a program whereby students from all over the United States have the opportunity to help the less fortunate. This is often an integral part of the high school and college experience for students to do social service hours or get classroom teaching experience for those majoring in child development or education. Annually, 2,500 U.S. students devote their time in some way to help the poorest of the poor.
Despite cynicism from the general public and no financial assistance from the government to support the education of the preschool/kindergarten children in this poverty stricken area of Tijuana, Lynch has worked to bring his students’ learning capacity to a step above that of the surrounding government funded schools. From inception in 1992, Lynch’s program has placed a majority of its kindergarten graduates a full year ahead on the entrance exam provided by the Mexican public school system, Lynch’s efforts have served to significantly better the lives of thousands of Mexican students, involve the lives of thousands of American students, and inspire the lives of countless others. For more information, please visit www.responsibilityonline.org.
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