November 2019 - The Philanthropy Issue

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Ojala Niños

Ojalá Niños is a non-profit year round program that gives 100 + indigenous children in the rural community of San Miguel Viejo, México the opportunity to explore their strengths through art, music and literacy in a safe place where children can gather and be guided without judgement.

Photo: Art class with Teacher and Two Volunteers

I spoke with Debora Annino, a supporter and advisor to Ojala Ninos.

Please tell us about Ojala Niños, including when and why it was started.

My late husband Barry Annino first met our founder Elsa in a local artisan market. Discouraged about his attempts to create a tennis camp for underprivileged children at a local sports club, Elsa asked him to bring this opportunity out to the children of Ojala Niños.

Not long after their chance encounter, Barry was diagnosed with terminal cancer. Barry’s immediate desire upon learning of his diagnosis was to create pathways of opportunity for others. His heart was burdened for Ojala Niños, and he donated the funds necessary to procure the land that will become the expanded community center. This was also the birth of our non-profit, Little Things Matter.

It is my commitment to help carry forward Elsa and Barry’s vision of Ojala Niños by bringing education, opportunity, and resources to this rural community. We strive to break the cycle of poverty and brokenness, to restore thriving families in the community for generations to come.

What is Little Things Matter, and how does it work alongside Ojala Niños?

Little Things Matter is my own non-profit. I have started a women’s cooperative with the mothers in San Miguel Viejo whose children attend Ojala Niños programs.

It is my desire to create opportunities for these mothers through dignified work, skills training, and community building that allow them to develop sustainable business and economic opportunities while still being able to care for their children at home.

Their collaborative work and commitment to one another allows them to give back to their families and their community. They have the desire create a safe play space for their children and all the children in their community through some of their income.

To learn more about Little Things Matter you can visit

What are your financial needs and how do you currently raise funds?

There is a need for ongoing program support providing educational enrichment programs for the children that reside in San Miguel Viejo. Our minimum monthly budget for program maintenance is $2,200 USD. This is to pay 9 teachers and 2 staff and to buy materials and daily healthy snacks.

We have also initiated a capital campaign to raise funds to purchase Elsa’s property and convert it into classrooms for educational programs and additional indoor/outdoor space for gardens and a playground.

Additionally, $28.00 US per month supports one child’s access to literacy, music, dance, art, field trips, life skills and enrichment classes.

Do you accept volunteers?

We gladly welcome any volunteers! However, we would prefer consistent, long term volunteers who can help create committees as well as take charge of certain needs such as:

-Making and distributing daily healthy snacks

-Providing transportation for occasional special events or opportunities for the children away from the rancho

-Initiating and organizing fund-raisers

-Finding and arranging guest speakers to offer information about nutrition, dental health, environmental consciousness, music, sports, etc.

To donate to Ojala Ninos or find out more about volunteering opportunities, visit their website here.