Educating Children, Building Schools and Changing Children's Lives


Since the early 1980's Responsibility has had a huge impact on the children living in and around the garbage dumps of Tijuana, Mexico. To date over 6,000 students have participated in Responsibility's education programs in both Mexico and Nicaragua. And over the years we have helped build 45 homes for the destitute.

History from 1980 to today

Here's a brief synopsis what we have done so far:

Early 1980's

David Lynch, a Long Island Special Education teacher, joins a volunteer group that goes over the summers to Mexico to help teach children living in cardboard hovels. In June 1985 David Lynch, and a group of volunteers build the first schoolhouse and medical center next to the Tijuana municipal garbage dump.

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Later 1980's

  • We build a home for a blind couple who lost their house in a fire.

  • 1988 Dionisio and Tomas, two students from the dump, attend secondary school and graduate. They are the first dump dwellers to accomplish that feat. In 1989 Tomas and Dionisio, visit Mayfield Senior School, an all girls private high school, in Pasadena. They speak in front of several classes and tell the girls that they don't consider themselves poor.

  • Felipe, a former student, gets a job as an English teacher and starts teaching in downtown Tijuana.

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Early 1990's

  • In 1990, Bill O'Reilly of Inside Edition airs a segment on "The Glass Children." After this the elementary school gets built. Mother Teresa visits the dump and describes the inhabitants as "the world's most destitute."

  • Responsibility, Inc. is formed as a non-profit organization.

  • In 1992, Home Depot donates the materials for us to build another medical clinic.

  • In 1994, Responsibility donates our school to the Mexican Department of Education. They in turn open a registered elementary school for the dump children. We convert our medical clinic into a kindergarten. In 1995, Alice and Skip McElvery, along with friends from Georgia, build our new kindergarten.

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Later 1990's

  • In 1997, The O'Reilly Factor on Fox News Channel air a segment on Responsibility. At Responsibility's annual awards dinner, Frank & Lori Petrosky, from Pennsylvania, donate a new 15-passenger van to the school.

  • In 1999, David Lynch meets Susan Sarandon in New York and David thanks her for her generous support. And Professor Felipe's daughter Vanessa, who attended our school for two years, places third in a state scholastic competition, representing the first grade of her school.

Early 2000's

  • We operated the preschool/kindergarten, began running a summer camp, played Santa to thousands of children, and have 450 guests at our Thanksgiving Dinners. 

  • One medical/dental clinic is now run by the community with some assistance from Responsibility. Several hundred patients visit this clinic a month. The other two clinics have been turned into classrooms.

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2006

  • Actress Susan Sarandon attended our kindergarten graduation. Her visit hit the media around the world. It was in the Himalayan Times in Tibet, on the radio in Vancouver, Canada, on CNN news in the United States, in the Albany Times in New York, and a friend of Lynch’s vacationing in Barcelona, Spain, at the time sent Lynch the article from that city’s newspaper. These are just a few that covered the story.

  • WORLD OF CHILDREN HUMANITARIAN AWARD - At the United Nations complex in New York City, David Lynch was honored to receive the World of Children Humanitarian Award. Others who also were honored with this award included people who worked in Tibet, Viet Nam, India, Haiti and Columbia.

2007

  • Cristina Marselli La Rosa, our summer volunteer coworker of 24 years and my dearest friend quietly past away in her sleep on June 15, 2007. These few quotes summing up the hundreds her students stated when we made a huge collage of art work and statements done by Profe Cristina’s students. “You were the most playful teacher I ever had….Thank you for teaching me how to swim…. Thank you for taking us out to the ocean waves….Thank you for all the games we played to learn English….You were the most beautiful and the happiest teacher I ever had.” And from David Lynch: “Cristina, your friendship was a gift from God to me. I love you.”

  • ARMANDO AND THE BLUE TARP SCHOOL
    Lee & Low Books publishes Edith Hope Fine, Judith Pinkerton Josephson, Hernán Sosa book. http://books.google.com/books/about/Armando_and_the_Blue_Tarp_School.html?id=4_6lAgAACAAJ
    A brief overview: An artistic young Mexican boy living in a colonia (trash dump community) takes the first steps toward realizing his dream of getting an education. Based on the work of David Lynch, a teacher from New York who first began working in a colonia in Mexico in the early 1980s.

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2008

  • MATAGALPA, NICARAGUA
    We have started a new project working with the scavengers of the garbage dump in Matagalpa, Nicaragua. We committed to building and funding a kindergarten for the children and providing the community with drinking water. (Presently, all the families drink from a contaminated river that borders the city dump.)

  • SHARING A SUCCESS STORY
    I met Dionisio, a former student whom I haven’t seen in twenty years, at Felipe’s daugther’s fifteen birthday party. (This is like a sweet sixteen party but much much bigger.) Since he has a passport, I asked him to be the guest speaker at our annual fund raiser. He answered, “Yes, and I will do it in English.” Dionisio’s entire family scavenged the city garbage dump to survive. In this 1985 picture on the left that is Dionisio and his brothers and sisters in the garbage dump working. (Dionisio is furthest left and standing lower than the others.)

    Today, Dionisio is a car mechanic. At our fund raiser, his emotions overwhelmed him to tears as he fondly spoke of the opportunities Responsibility gave not only him but the entire community. His speech ended with “I would not have the job I have today if it weren’t for the opportunities David Lynch gave me growing up. I love you, David.” He proves our motto of 28 years, “If you want to help for an eternity, give them an education.”
    (Dionisio is in the 1989 graduation picture)

  • NRG. The power to change life. The energy to make it happen.
    DONATES A NEW SCHOOL

    NRG, an power plant company based out of New Jersey, funded our two new school buildings. We now have more than three times the space we had before. Our school has a computer lab, a community meeting center/ auditorium, and a kindergarten.

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2009

  • RESPONSIBILITY IN NICARAGUA - In June Responsibility fulfilled its year old commitment to provide drinking water for the children of the Matagalpa garbage dump. We built three five thousand gallon cisterns to hold drinking water and paid for a year's supply which is trucked into the area. Supplying water will put an end to quenching their thirst from the chemically contaminated stream that borders the garbage dump. Their second need is a daycare center and preschool / kindergarten. Eighty percent of the scavengers are single mothers with four to eight children. Every family member goes to work. Babies are put in cardboard boxes and placed close to the mother as she scavenges for food and recyclables. This year Responsibility funded three teachers for the three to six year olds. Presently, our students are using a classroom in Leonardo's elementary school. Pictures: Top left: A student drinking clean water from our new drinking water tank. Right: Students receiving their school supplies at a fiesta held at a nearby church. They are getting prepared for the first day of school.

  • THE INTERNATIONAL READING ASSOCIATION and the Greater San Diego Reading Association honored David Lynch with the Celebrate Literacy Award for exemplary service in the Promotion of Literacy

2010

  • THE DOCUMENTARY FILM: THE TIJUANA PROJECT The Tijuana Project had a highly successful premier at the Cinequest Film Festival in San Jose, California. Director John Sheedy and Editor Scott Davis received the Kaiser Thrive Award for excellence in presenting the challenges that societies face in the world today. It was the only award presented at the festival. Since the premier in February 2010, the film has been shown in Australia, Mexico, the United States, and most recently, Cuba. Pictured: David Lynch, Director John Sheedy, and Editor Scott Davis.

  • MUSICAL PLAY, ARMANDO AND THE BLUE TARP SCHOOL Based on the book of the same name, this musical by playwright and lyricist Pat Lydersen and composer Wendy Woolf "is the most successful show in The Park Dale Players 25-year history," stated Pat Lyderson. It received standing ovations to sold-out houses (2100 people attended) and $8,000 profit was donated to Responsibility.

  • GOOD BYE DR. JIM. THANKS FOR CARING. Jim Dillahunty passed away on January 1, 2011. He had been on the Responsibility Board of Directors for twelve years, and was the president for the last several years. Pictured: Dr. Jim with Dr. Marilyn Simon, current President of Responsibility Board of Directors, at the old Tijuana dump site.

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2011

  • OUR NICARAGUA PROJECT - The construction of the Responsibility’s school named The Robert Keenan Family School was completed in December 2010. Araceli Moreno, my assistant, and I attended the grand opening in January. The 2011 school year has an enrollment of 90 kindergarten students in the mornings and 86 elementary school students in the afternoon. The primary school classes are specifically for children who work and had dropped out of school or never attended. This describes most of the kids who scavenge the city dump for survival.

  • OUR SCHOOL IN TIJUANA, MEXICO: LA ESCUELA DAVID LYNCH - Kindergarten/Computer Lab, Tutoring/Art/ Summer School/ Camp:. This past year, with our combined programs, we had close to 175 students.

  • THREE OF OUR FORMER GRADUATES ARE NOW IN COLLEGE AND MEDICAL SCHOOL.
    Vanessa Quiroz Padilla, Profe Felipe’s daughter is attending medical school. Brother Alex and Daniel Talentino are attending the university , the school of engineering. All three are on Responibility scholarships.
    One of our former students, Cristian Quiroz has his own DJ business which his total “show” with lights, and music is run by computer. Cristian also works in a café internet assisting customers. He has his own computer repair business.

    Interesting note of interest: Vanessa and Daniel graduated from a local Tijuana high school with 517 classmates. Vanessa graduated validictorian and Daniel saludatorian. (There classmates came from 300 different elementary schools and both of them had Profe Felipe as their first teacher for two years.)

2012

  • Nicaragua Project: We have combined our efforts with another organization and together we have 563 students.

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In the early 1980 children as young as 3 were working in the garbage dump. In the picture below, a child plays with a toy found while scavenging through the rubbage.

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Today, children younger then 11 are no longer permitted to work in the dump, which allows them to come to school.

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