The former first lady of Mexico dedicates her post-political life to furthering education, health, and stability for the most vulnerable in her country.
fter serving as a country’s first lady, what does a person do next? Former first lady Marta Sahagún de Fox, along with her husband, Vicente Fox Quesada, the 55th president of Mexico (2000-2006), advocates and creates change for those without a voice in Mexico.
Sahagún de Fox is president of the Vamos Mexico Foundation and the chairman of the board for Vision Mexico (visionmexico.org), continuing her lifelong activism. A powerful voice on women’s issues and shared social responsibility, Sahagún de Fox addresses the challenges of Mexico’s citizens. She has dedicated her life to public service to promote education, women’s and children’s health, the fight against poverty, and support for vulnerable groups.
At the time of her marriage to former president Fox in 2001, Sahagún de Fox was working for the government. She had always been active in politics and social change, so becoming Mexico’s first lady allowed her to pursue these goals on a much bigger scale.
“I had to decide what to do. In Mexico, the first lady performs few duties and has no obligations in the government,” Sahagún de Fox says. “I wanted to work for the good of the people as a gesture of goodwill. I believe in education, and I wanted to educate my brothers, my mother, and all other families.”
She chose to use this political platform to serve and help the people of Mexico as her personal path to happiness. Sahagún de Fox created the Vamos Mexico Foundation in 2001 to tackle social causes. “There are three main issues: health, education, and strengthening the community. We have created different programs, which have grown over the years,” she says.
After years of work, the first phase of the Comprehensive Re- habilitation Center San Miguel
de Allende (CRISMA), one of the foundation’s programs, was finally opened. The fully integrated rehabilitation center, located 170 miles northwest of Mexico City, provides a full range of rehabilitation services, including hydrotherapy, hearing and language therapy, artistic expression workshops, and pediatric physical therapy. CRISMA also offers physical therapy for adults as well as neurological and psychological services for disabled persons in vulnerable situations.
CRISMA was initially operated by one woman, the late Señora Lucha Maxwell, who took care of the children in her town. When she reached 92 years of age, she was unable to continue her work. She approached the former president and first lady to continue her mission, and Vamos Mexico decided to accept the responsibility.
The programs are operated in a beautiful ranch and hospital located in the historic city of San Miguel de Allende. The city’s international population of artists, writers, and expatriates promotes the organization’s progressive stance. The program started with 22 children living in a very old house in less than desirable conditions.
“Through the goodwill and generosity of many people, Mexicans and Americans, we can help so many children,” Sahagún de Fox says. “Americans understand and practice philanthropy and want to help others. Today, we are helping 320 children, taking care of them and their families, in a new hospital with state-of-the-art technology and equipment. Our goal is to help children walk again, and as medical science discovers new methods, children walking again becomes a reality for so many.”
The fundraising efforts continue to support and grow the programs implemented by the foundation.
“COVID-19 has had a devastat- ing impact on the economy; we need to step up and reach even more people with our help. Therapy is so important to families who are struggling emotionally and physically,” she says. “The quarantine has forced so many to become isolated. COVID-19 is tough on children, and those with a disability are really feeling the desperation.”
CRISMA had to close its doors in March and then again in September due to the government mandate. Children and families keep telling the staff of the center how much they are missed. Emotions run high as the center, even while closed, takes every safety precaution for staff, volunteers, children, and their families.
“We are protecting everyone, and with help from good people, we can extend a hand to help again,” Sahagún de Fox says. “We are going to keep helping, going to people’s homes—and we remain committed.”
One program that’s helping is the foundation’s Godparent a Child, which supports the rehabilitation of children with disabilities living in poverty. There are different levels of sponsorship, with a one-year commitment, to help children receive consultations and therapy. The program improves children’s communication capabilities, advances them toward a better quality of life, improves possibilities for the children to enjoy life, helps achieve social inclusion, and allows them to become independent.
Sponsors can select the child who they’d like to support, receiving a packet with a photo and the child’s story, his or her rehabilitation goals, and periodic progress report. Sponsors are encouraged to send supportive messages. “We have to keep going and re- main in hope and faith,” she says.
“The time will come that we can see the light, and we are grateful for everyone’s support. We are here for our children, the elderly, the disabled, and the people of our country.”
STEPS IN THE RIGHT DIRECTION
Statement of Juan A. Garcia, senior advisor to former president Vicente Fox and former first lady Marta Sahagún de Fox:
“The Mexican Senate has just approved the first level of the law that will allow the recreational consumption of cannabis. While we do believe in the curative elements the plant brings in certain medications to the country, former first lady Marta Sahagún de Fox has nothing to do with cannabis and the aforementioned legislation in the Mexican Senate. Mrs. Fox serves as president
of Vamos México Foundation and CRISMA and is chairman of the board for Vision México. We are focused on the beautiful hospital that was constructed in San Miguel de Allende for children and adults with special needs. We are on a quest to increase the en- dowment for the hospital to serve more people. We know, as does the world, that the Israelis, Americans, and French are developing medicines from this plant. Our mission is to serve the people through the foundation.”
Statement of Adrian Marcel Cazares, US ambassador to former pres- ident Vincente Fox and the first lady Marta Sahagún de Fox:
“We are excited about what is to come for the people of Mexico and the benefits this God-given plant medicine will provide for the children and elderly of CRISMA. Through the Padrino initiative, Mrs. Fox and I look forward to co-creating with many of the industry’s enlightened beings to be the light in dark worlds. Though we cannot claim victory yet, as there is still much to do before Lower Legislative Chamber approval and signature by the president of Mexico, provided he has no objections. The Mexican lower house decided to delay debating articles in the marijuana legalization bill until the next legislative period, starting in February. Lawmakers said on December 8, 2020, that they need more time to study the bill, and the Mexican Supreme Court concurs. After the law is approved, before any sales can take place, a cannabis agency must be established, and secondary rules written. If government and “plantvocates” can learn to cooperate, pool our wealth, share our intellectual capital, we can defeat any disease in the galaxy through love and educational reform. Children such as Rylie Maedler, Coltyn Turner, and Lilianna Carmen Diversey are precious star-seeds who are the generations taking the baton to do the work we’ve started. Loving people through their stigmas so they can open up and be vulnerable to receive this information is how we inspire healing.”