Basic Health Care
Sleep and Smile
Love Comes In Different Sizes
Moms and Babes
Fourth Annual Christmas Food Drive
Congratulations to Brayan, Estefanía, and Jennifer, three of our scholarship students, for receiving diplomas in their school year for academic achievement. We are very proud of them!
There’s nothing like a good night’s sleep!
We delivered a mattress to a young boy who was sleeping on the floor and to a family of eight where Tropical Storm Lidia became a running river through their home.
Just before classes began at the end of August and after classes were in session, generous clients of Tailhunter International Sportfishing donated a huge amount of school supplies.
Free school supplies can also help ease the burden of school costs for children in need.
Our monthly event gives kids the opportunity to engage in races, games, and drawing and to leave with prizes, popcorn and a good time. A big thank you to clients of Tailhunter International Sportfishing for donating the prizes.
More photos here.
Trevor Brown, the founder of Baja Connections, a responsible tourism business, has pledged to purchase one rechargeable solar lamp for every whale shark tour they do. We will distribute these lamps to school age children who don’t have electricity in their homes. Baja Connections offers snorkelling, diving, whale watching and whale shark tours in La Paz.
Our hearts are saddened by the passing of precious, little 10-year old Vania, who recently died of an inoperable brain tumour. Vania was such a blessing to everyone who met her and she will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers go out to her family, who have lost such a beautiful princess.
Our focus has been on a number of events:
It’s a good option for a young person who may not have the money to attend university or the marks to get in. Brandon has always been a very hard worker, employed part-time to help support his family of eight while going to school. The fact that he even completed high school is a tribute to his determination and dedication!
At Christmas, thanks to generous donors, we were able to deliver 174 food hampers to families. And throughout the year, we have provided food, portable propane stoves and tanks, school shoes, uniforms and school supplies to families in dire need.
Not to mention, celebrating Christmas and Mother’s Day with our volunteers to thank them for their hard work and dedication to our mission.
We’ve also received a ton of donations – school supplies, crayons, colouring books, personal hygiene articles, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sheets, blankets, pillows, girls’ hair stuff, soccer balls, soccer clothing and shoes, cleats, mattresses, solar reading lamps, and so much more – from visitors to La Paz. In fact, we just received and handed out a gazillion goodies donated from clients of Tailhunter International Sportfishing. More photos here.
God bless you.
Kids love being creative and using their imagination. And they just love to play. Our charity started an After School program for kids from kindergarten to the end of elementary school in order to brighten and uplift the lives of children who live in poverty and deprivation.
What better way for our scholarship students to give back to the community than to commit their four hours of volunteer service a month to engage in play with these children. There are no specific qualifications except to be enthusiastic, show up on time and strive to be good role models.
Alanis: I live with my father, mother and younger sister. My dad’s a construction worker by trade but because he can’t find work, he’s working in a restaurant cleaning and doing other things. My mom takes care of us.
A: They taught me values and my rights. Also, to be respectful with them, the right to education, and to help around the house.
A: It gives someone the opportunity to get ahead and to be somebody in life.
A: I want a good career and to be able to help my family. Both my mother and father went as far as junior high. I thought I would like to be a military engineer but not now. To be a military engineer, I would have to leave La Paz and I want to stay close to my family.
A: I’m very positive. Even if bad things happen, I keep smiling. Tomorrow will be better. I learned this by myself. In school, they teach us to be positive, arrange things with words and not with fists.
A: My favourite subject is biology. That’s another reason why I changed my mind about being an engineer. The transition from primary school to junior high has been easy for me.
A: I play soccer with friends and watch TV.
A: It’s a good thing. There are people who are old and sick and community service can help them. My community service is helping in the after school program the charity started. I play with the kids who come, help them with math, and try to do things with them that will be a benefit for them like memory games, jigsaw puzzles, multiplication games and sometimes they paint.
A: Basically, I’d like to give something back to society like giving away money to people in need, help with housing, maybe create some program that helps a lot of people. I’ve also been seeing these 3D machines that can create fake skin that can actually be transplanted into humans. They’re just researching this but it fascinates me.
A: I don’t think my family is in poverty because my parents have been providing me with food and a house. But there are others who lack resources to feed themselves. I’d like to provide them and help them with what they need.
A: I’d try not to engage in more corruption to benefit myself. I’d attack the cartels, provide security to people, start programs that benefit all society like stopping robbery and all bad things. Where I live, I’d put in drainage, water, electricity and better housing. It’s important to be a good citizen and not do bad things. Lots of people rob houses and do graffiti.
Scholarships for students in developing countries help fund costs of attending school and enable them to accomplish their career goals. Our scholarship program was designed to reward students who are working hard and who take their education seriously. One of our requirements, aside from maintaining high grades, is to put in four hours of community service per month during the school year.
Many of our students choose to do activities with the little kids – reading, drawing, playing games – but one of our students is doing something unique. He’s helping his grandfather sell vegetables.
Julio lives across the road from his grandfather, Julian, who buys and sells tomatoes by the kilo, walking door to door every day in the surrounding communities. It’s hard work trekking through dirt roads, up and down stone-filled hills under the scorching Baja sun, carrying pails filled with tomatoes. When the pails are empty, the grandfather hurries back to his home where he weighs more tomatoes and bags them.
Once a week, Julio helps his grandfather, accompanying him on his trek. The money the grandfather makes supports his wife and himself and also feeds Julio and his two brothers lunch while Julio’s mother works.
For Julio and his grandfather, it’s more than just fulfilling Julio’s community service. It’s a time of bonding for grandfather and grandchild. When the two are together, the love between them is palpable.
Julio: I live with my mother, my twin brother and younger brother. We recently moved here from another Mexican state. I have an older brother who still lives there.
J: I was happy to move. I thought things would be better for me to move, not worse, because all my family lives here. School is much easier here. Where I used to live, there are rivers, but here, there are beaches. I’ve even been to the beach twice.
J: I play soccer and, when I’m bored, I draw.
J: A lack of resources like money, food, clothing. I have lots of friends whose houses don’t have windows. They’re cold and don’t have enough blankets. Compared to others, we’re not poor. We have enough food. I eat at my grandmother’s who lives across the road from us. My mom gives her money to help with the food and so we all eat.
Kathy Perkins, a resident of La Paz, mentioned our charity to her sister in California who put out a call for donations to people in her professional network. Kathy drove down with a van stuffed to the gills with ten boxes of clothing, blankets, sheets, pillowcases, towels, shoes, toiletries, jackets, scarves, toys and school supplies. With the money donated, Kathy bought 20 pillows and eight more blankets.
Soccer is to Mexico what hockey is to Canada. Once children get their hands on a soccer ball, the game is on. The sport is so popular that when a Mexican team wins a big game, hundreds of cars in La Paz head to the street by the beach, driving back and forth, back and forth, with kids hanging out windows and sunroofs, swinging large Mexican flags swaying to the music blaring, and bass thumping at sonic-boom level, out of the speakers attached to the car, competing with the robust noise from the blasting of car horns. Noise pollution, you’re wondering? More like acoustic terrorism!
The balls were from Sport Check (West Vancouver) courtesy of Bruce and the clothing from Michael Ahmed of West Van Barbers who supplies soccer gear to children all over the globe. Who knows? Maybe one day one of these kids will live the dream of being a professional player in Mexico!
In Mexico, school days are divided into two sessions, one for the morning and one for the afternoon. It’s at the discretion of the school as to which session a student enters. Veronica, one of our scholarship students, entered high school last August, and was placed in the afternoon class.
Her mother anxiously spoke to the school requesting that Veronica be moved to the morning class but was told there was no room available. Each class already had their quota of 50 students to a lecture room!
Being worried about Veronica’s safety, I went to the school with a volunteer, Pily, to talk with the Vice-Principal. I felt it important to impress upon her that Veronica’s safety was at risk. The community where she lived was infested with drug, alcohol and sexual assault problems.
While the Vice-Principal was very compassionate to the issue, her hands were tied. She had a folder full of students who wanted to move to day school for health or other reasons. It occurred to me that this just wasn’t a safety issue for Veronica but an issue for every girl who gets out of school late at night and has to find her own way home.
The Vice-Principal suggested that Veronica move to another school. However, this school had the program that Veronica wanted to study. Her family would never have been able to afford the high tuition on their own and it was a privilege for our charity, through her sponsors, to be able to pay the enrolment so that Veronica could study the field that she loved in order to have the career that would bring her joy. I vetoed that option pretty quickly.
I then asked the Vice-Principal to whom I should speak at the school board level. She gave me a name but also assured me that they would then call her to see if there was space in the morning class. Apparently, lack of adequate classrooms and lack of teachers have been an ongoing issue for those in education.
It was starting to sink in that this was a much bigger issue than one girl’s safety. That perhaps we weren’t going to get Veronica moved immediately because there was nowhere to move her to until the school added more classes.
Not willing to give up the fight, I tried one last strategy. I asked, “What will it take for those education decision-makers to wake up? To realize that they are putting their quota of students in a class over the safety of girls who leave school late at night? Does a young girl like Veronica have to be kidnapped, raped or murdered for the schools to realize the risk of sending a young girl home so late at night? Mexico is one of the largest hubs of sexual trafficking and I don’t want Veronica to be another statistic.”
Veronica: First, the school social worker called me to ask where I lived, if the bus drove near my place, what time I got home from school, my grade point average…I was very excited when they told me a couple of days later that I was being moved. I couldn’t believe that in one instance something could change so quickly. Honestly, I was really scared walking alone at night.
V: I want to study construction. I like to design things. My course is really the foundation to a career in civil engineering, which is the profession I want to study.
V: My dad built most of it but I wanted him to shape the house in a rectangle.
V: Not right now because it’s cold and I’m lazy. I like to be in a warm house. Also my gloves tore. But I will return when it’s warmer.
V: I want to be a civil engineer and to be an example to show that everything’s possible. When you’re younger, you think everything is easy but as you get older you realize that maybe life isn’t so easy after all. When I was younger I didn’t feel everything is possible but now I do.
V: I’m sometimes on Facebook and chat with friends – only people I know. I sometimes go to movies – action or romantic movies.
V: Both another scholarship student, Magui, and I work together. It takes two of us because the kids are out of control. They want to be free and play but both Magui and I think it’s important the kids also learn important things. We teach them multiplication tables and how to add and subtract. We get about five or six kids around 7, 8, and 9 years and they don’t know their arithmetic. At the end we do jigsaw puzzles or something else that’s fun.
Every couple of years the Gerbrandt and Graves families visit La Paz and like to do a bit of volunteering. What a better way to meet humble Mexican families and angelic children then to bring gifts to them.
We also distributed clothing to sent to us by Justice, and we gave away colourful knitted hats and scarves by our resident knitter, Sylvia Sperling. There are no words to express our gratitude for the caring that visitors have for those who have so little. On behalf of the families in Vista Hermosa, thank you. More photos here.
Emily, who visits La Paz every few years and holds our charity deep in her heart, accompanied me to the community to hand out some new and used clothing and hair scrunchies her mother made. Curiously, one of the translations for scrunchie in Spanish is donut. Who would have thought?
Another big turnout for our monthly children’s event of races, musical chairs, Loteria (Mexican bingo) and the exciting game, Pie Face. The kids are totally fascinated with Pie Face, waiting for their moment of glory (unscathed) or agony (splatted in the face
with whipped cream).
Before the kids left, we handed out small bags of candies and popcorn and, thanks to donors of Tailhunter International Sportsfishing, a young boy won an awesome, huggable, stuffed penguin providing years of squeezable love. More photos here.
Three pick up trucks packed to the gills headed out to Vista Hermosa to hand out 218 food hampers to very gracious and grateful families.
First, we had to follow the grader who opened the main road just for us and then we went street by street to meet large and small families, single moms and the elderly.
Our volunteers handed out about 100 candy canes and a ton of Hershey kisses. Happiness and sugar highs all around! Thanks to a generous donor, numerous 4 year old children left with a Christmas toy and a big smile. It was an amazing time meeting families, knowing that each and every one will have food on their table for Christmas. Thank you to all who donated to this special project. More photos here.
Even the cold, brisk wind didn’t stop the scholarship families from attending our annual Christmas fiesta to celebrate a job well done by our volunteers and the hard work of our scholarship students, the future leaders of Mexico. It was a fun evening of cake and gifts – a food hamper and bag of assorted creams, lotions and shampoo for the moms, and a small gift certificate for clothing for each scholarship student.
One of our scholarship student’s sponsors visiting La Paz made a surprise visit to their student and joined in on the festivities.
Our sponsors are the backbone of our scholarship program. Without their support, some students wouldn’t have the financial resources to finish all twelve years of school. When the sponsors and students meet, gratitude flows both ways. It was a touching moment for Carol Ann and Dave, when they met up with their student and
family. The family was thrilled. We were, too!
Over one hundred eager children attended our annual Christmas fiesta where they vigourously and enthusiastically participated in five games: Pie Face, catch the flag, musical chairs, statues and a blindfold game.
Now that they were totally worn out, thirsty and hungry, we treated them to cake and a delicious, thirst-quenching drink called Jamaica (ha-my-ka) made from dried hibuscus leaves, while they anxiously waited for a gift: dolls, soccer balls, baseballs and backpacks donated by clients of Tailhunter International Sportfishing, girls’ blouses and dresses from the US company Justice, and a bag stuffed with candies.
There could never be enough gratitude to thank everyone involved who made this fiesta a success. We couldn’t have pulled this off without their help. More photos here.
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