Scholarship Recipients – 2015

Lenny Hau1Lenny Hau Gomez

Lenny is currently studying her 10/10 semester at the Law Faculty at UADY and she is preparing to write her final exam to get her degree.

Several months ago she did a presentation at the Meeting on Indigenous Law that was amazing and well received by all in attendance. She shared with us an academic visit to 3 small villages in the boundaries between Yucatan and Quintana Roo. Her presentation caused Joana to mention it on her blog.

Following is the summary of her presentation.

Lenny was to learn about Traditional Law and see it applied.

Traditional law, also known as Indigenous Law is applied by a Justice of the Peace in these small villages.  Many of the laws began as tradition but over time became accepted as law.

The Justice of the Peace is a respected and honoured individual in the town and usually is an elder, considered a good neighbour and trusted by the villagers.  It is the villagers that choose the Justice who is recognized as a certified judge.

These judges are not particularly educated as we might expect them to be but they are respected by the community and the judgements are respected and adhered to.

There are seldom monetary fines because not only the accused suffers but also the family.  Most punishments are community service such as cleaning yards, giving back not one chicken but 2 and more of this type of punishment.  If spousal abuse is a problem the offender could be tied to a tree for the entire village to see.

There is a Codigo Moral that indicates those crimes that must be reported to and dealt with by outside authorities and they include murder and rape.

Two of the most grievous crimes is gossiping and using black magic as an excuse for behaviours.  People found guilty of these offences are shunned and can become very isolated.  It is not uncommon for these people to move from their villages because the consequences are so dire.

So what happens if someone repeats the same crime twice?  The offender is asked to leave because he cannot abide by the rules.

Statistics reflect that about 15% of the villages use this type of law with 90% of crimes being dealt with by the Justice of the Peace and 10% being sent to outside agencies.


Celina Herrera1Celina Herrera

Celina is currently studying her 8/9 semester at the Biology Faculty at UADY and she is still deciding on her thesis.

At the May 2013 meeting she shared with us one of her passions and perhaps the subject of her thesis.  Everyone at the meeting found her presentation very interesting and knowledgeable and asked her to come back when her thesis is done. Her focus was on the Pollination of Cacti by Bats.



Celina with her bat buddy.


What’s up with me and my thesis…

CelinaFirst of all, I want to thank you all for your support in the scholarship program. You are life changers for many girls who really want to make a difference.  So yeah! Keep up the good work and I will do the same here jaja, to those who don’t know who I am and what I am studying, here it goes…

My name is Celina Herrera Krings and I am currently in my final semester of Biology. Technically I should be done now but due to a change in the study plan at school, I have to take one more semester.  And the good news is that I will be able to take a subject that is close to my heart: Ecology of Bats, this subject is going to help me decide once and for all if I want to study bats for the rest of my life.

I love Bats, they are such amazing creatures but sadly have been given a bad reputation because of their nocturnal habits, and the fact that we know little about them… usually the first thing that comes to our minds is that they are blood sucking creatures that will attack you as soon as look at you!!

Ladies, nothing could be further from the truth! Bats are the second most abundant group of mammals after rodents and I know they look similar but they are not flying rats, they belong to an entirely different order called Chiroptera.

I had the opportunity to do my social service in measuring the growth of cacti in three different treatments: sun, light shade and complete shade.  So I became interested in cacti; they are very cool and interesting plants and are exclusively from America and here in Yucatan we have them all in a variety of shapes and sizes.

Next, came the big question of what are you going to do for your THESIS?

So I began thinking about how I can combine cacti and bats? The answer was simple, pollination.

Pollination is a very important ecosystem service that many animals provide for humans.  It’s important because without this process and the animals responsible for pollinating crops, we wouldn’t have food on our tables!

Or the great variety of tropical fruits displayed every day in the mercados!

Many plant species depend almost entirely on bats for pollination, and cacti like the pitaya are not an exception.

Mexico has a large diverse bat population because of the ecosystems; these allow them to have different diets such as insects, nectar and pollen, fruits, fish, small vertebrates including smaller bats and blood.

Apart from pollination bats provide seed dispersal that contributes to regeneration of forests, pest control by feeding on insects that are harmful to humans as well as crops. One bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes and other insects in just one hour so imagine a whole colony of them!  This is pretty amazing don’t you think?

From the many species of bats in the world, there are only 3 that feed on blood, these three live here in Mexico, Central America and South America. Two of these species feed on bird blood like poultry and only one of them of mammal blood preferably cattle or other livestock. They do not suck blood. They obtain blood by making a small cut in the skin of a sleeping animal (who feel nothing) with their razor-sharp incisors (not fangs) and then lapping up the blood as it flows from the wound. Each bat requires only about two tablespoons of blood.

Honestly I haven’t got the faintest idea of where Bram Stoker got the Idea of bats related to the blood sucking vampires.  The truth is that some of these blood feeding bats can transmit rabies to cattle causing economic losses and generating problems between humans and bats.

People have several methods dealing with bats: one is to seal caves shut thus trapping bats inside including the beneficial ones; the other is catching bats and applying a poison on their backs.  Once the application is the bats are set free and because they are social creatures they return to the cave, groom each other causing the poison to spread through the colony and they die. This has proven effective but unfortunately people who apply the poison don’t have a clue about bats and can’t tell one bat from another.

The increasing loss of habitat due to deforestation to establish extensive pastures and crops has cause the decline of some bat populations putting them on the endangered list.

That’s why it’s so important to train people to distinguish them, teach them that not all bats transmit rabies, and how important they are to the proper functioning of the ecosystem.

So that is where I am heading, to study bats!


soniaSonia Lopez Chan

Sonia is currently doing her Senior Practicum in the Nursing Faculty at UADY.

She is living in the South of the State of Yucatan, in Oxcutzcab

She is working at the Hospital Regional de Oportunidades # 39 and is responsible for Clinic #4,    5 days a week.

Her day begins at 7 am when she opens the clinic and prepares her work spaces. This means organizing the patients´ files and assisting the doctor with his examinations. Following the Clinic Sonia stocks the rest of the clinics with medical supplies. She shares this job with 2 other students.

Later in the day she might be sent to work in Emergency or she may be scheduled to do outpatient teaching sessions on such topics as birth control, postnatal care, addictions and sexually transmitted diseases

Every 3 months Sonia writes a report on her activities and submits it to her advisor.

She will finish her practicum at the end of January 2014.

Sonia is enjoying this part of her education.