Shelter from the sun….

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That’s what’s needed. Period. First and foremost. These kindergarten kids need shelter from the burning Mexican sun. A basic necessity that will fundamentally change the lives of these kindergarten kids and those who will follow years to come. Believe me, standing out in these “playgrounds” was beyond hot, and it’s winter here too. We are so thankful that we came to tour the schools before settling on what is really needed.

Last night….the HFM team negotiated and decided on installing four patio covers at each of our schools pronto. As you can see from the photo below, the kids are squished up against the side of the school, the only place for two or so hours that provides some reprieve from the sun. The school acts as a shelter, but it’s not enough room for these kids to run around and play and enjoy the outdoors. Their classrooms are small and hot, some with no electricity, so building these patio shelters will be a God send.

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You can see the DIF constructed ‘make shift’ cover from tarps, that is where the patio shelters will be constructed in the other three schools.

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IMG_0132IMG_0445We spoke the supplier, got him to commit to a better price since we are building and installing four patios and all work will be done by the end of April. Awesome! Just in time for the ‘hotter’ weather.

Meet some more of “our” kids who will enjoy their new sheltered playgrounds thanks to all of you….who helped raise the money so we can raise the roof(s)!!

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It’s the best when you least expect it…..

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If you really believe that kindness is contagious, even when you least expect it –  than you won’t be surprised by the message of this post. When our charity Hope For Mexico was touring and delivering much needed school supplies to our four schools in Dolores Hidalgo  we had no idea that others were taking note.

We decided in early January that we would hold off on building anything in the four schools we have committed to, simply for the fact that we wanted to tour each one and see for ourselves what they need and really get a feel for the schools, the kids and the communities. After we handed over all the supplies, we toured the classrooms and went over the teacher requests for their school needs. I was shocked that bathrooms, flushing toilets and running water to wash hands were on each list, but not even close to being number one. First and foremost each school needs a patio roof or shelter from the sun. Believe me, we could barely stand it out on their paved playgrounds for more than 20 minutes, these little guys have no where to play, eat or learn outside because none of the schools have proper shelter from the sun.

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Now, let me back up a bit…..these particular schools are not funded by the federal government because they do not have enough students in each to meet the requirements for funding. So they are left to fend for themselves and rely on the DIF (family services) to help provide basic funding. But the DIF provides help to so many areas in Mexico like medical, dental, retirement and assistance for the aging, domestic violence and shelter for those in need and of course impoverished schools to name a few. So funding is spread thin and the schools suffer for sure.

 

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But while touring the school and talking with the teacher at our first school of the day, we couldn’t stand the thought of these kids not having running water to wash their hands and a toilet that flushes. I asked how much to fix that…..her answer?? About $100.00.  Just before I could say we’ll take care of that…..the DIF employee piped up and said if you provide the patio roof, we’ll take care of the toilets and running water. I held out my hand and said, “You’ve got yourself a deal!”

IMG_0196And to my surprise…. that’s how the day went, HFM and Senor Alejandri went side by side and made deal after deal. We committed to building patio roofs on all four schools and the DIF committed to other needs that seem so basic to us, but a complete luxury to these teachers and students. If HFM wasn’t there that day, the DIF likely wouldn’t have been there to really see what a fantastic job these young teachers were doing with basically nothing to work with.

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Beyond Words…..

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I can’t begin to describe what kind of day we had yesterday. You know when you plan for something, dream of something, think of what it’s going to be like…. and then it happens…and it blows every expectation you had or could have hoped for. Well, our day was even better than that!!

So, Hope For Mexico arrived in Mexico on Friday….we got settled in at our friends place, went to an unbelievable party with our friends here in Mexico and then headed up to Dolores Hidalgo to pick up all the school supplies we bought for our four schools. When we arrived at the shop, everything was bagged and waiting for us. Juana, the owner kindly offered a reduced rate as a part of a donation. She went above and beyond by offering a truck delivery of the supplies the next morning at the DIF (the organization that runs the four schools) at no extra charge.

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We left Guanajuato as the sun was rising over the mountains filled with anticipation. When we arrived at the DIF everyone was waiting for us, it was clear we were to have an entourage for our day of tours. We sat in the offices over coffee before heading out and got to know the people we had been working with for months, but I hadn’t had the chance to meet them face to face yet. And let me tell you….same organization (the DIF)….as our adoption process, in the same country…..but nothing prepared us for the open arms that were waiting for us. Some might say…yeah….well of course…you don’t want to take something from them this time….you are coming with money to give and asking for nothing. But that was not it. Not at all. It was 8 years of building credibility in a country that has no reason to trust us. It was 8 years of friendship with Cesar and his family that got us in the doors and heard for the first time. It was a life lesson that sunk in even deeper than before…”Do what you say you are going to do.” And do it quickly. These people were honoured to meet “us”. We were treated like Kings and Queens (and princesses) for the day and they didn’t have to do that.

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At each school we visited a ceremonial celebration was set up for us. All the kids were dressed in their Sunday best….waiting in the courtyards for us. Sound systems were set up…like come on….I don’t even think these kids have even seen a microphone in their little lives. All for us. We were introduced and I had to say something at each school….YIKES….big fear of mine. But my daughter turned to me and said…”Mommy, don’t be nervous….they’re just kids.” Wow…..she’s so right. From that point on, I just took a deep breath and took in the moment. Not letting a moment go by without recognizing how lucky we were.

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And then came the moment that I nearly lost it. I had no idea….the DIF had made plaques to say thank you for Hope For Mexico, but not only did not I not know this…but the plaques were actually already carved into the walls of the schools, painted around and looked like they have been there forever. And what hit me was…they will be there forever. Each school had an unveiling of the plaque and we each took turns pulling back the curtains.  The last school, the Mayor of Dolores Hidalgo joined us and he and I revealed our plaque together.

IMG_0166IMG_0174IMG_0199IMG_0253IMG_0374IMG_0375IMG_0514But the absolute greatest of all….the best moments of the day came when I watched my daughter immerse herself in a dream that came true. She loved every minute of it…and when you looked into the eyes of the kids you could actually see the joy we brought them…even if for one day. I knew going on this adventure would change the lives of some children and the best is yet to come there….but it changed us as a family too. And it all comes back to our the saying we used as the symbol our wedding ten years ago…in Mexico, where our journey here began. “En la union esta la fuerza” – In unity there is strength. It’s not just me, or my family of three….it’s our “entourage” that will continue to make the differences we dreamt up not so long ago, our friends here in Mexico and those at home who have supported us and believed in our dream.

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Meet some of our “kids”

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Stay tuned….more stories to come.

Here we go….

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We’re atta here….Mexican sunshine here we come. We’ve been waiting for this trip for a long time and worked hard to get it all done. Thanks to Cesar who is the eyes and ears in Mexico…we are ready to put our plan into action.

Hope For Mexico raised over 15 thousand dollars in November to help rebuild 4 schools in impoverished areas of Mexico. We are super excited to arrive and get to work. It’s amazing when you dream up something and then little by little you test the waters to make sure it’s something that can work. And the moment you realize, ok….it’s time to put up or shut up…and you close your eyes and take that leap of faith. Now it’s pay off time. We will update with photos and videos while away so you can see our progress.

On February 24th, our first order of business is to deliver all the curriculum items we have ordered, we decided to buy all the supplies that private schools order. The best of the best for our Hope for Mexico kids. Then we will tour the four schools and make the final decisions as to what we feel they really need, it’s so hard to make those decisions from such a distance. Thank heavens for Cesar and my Mexican family there;  we decided to take our time and do it right.

Last week, I went to my daughter’s classroom and asked the kids in her class to create two templates for murals that we will paint on the faded and dilapidated walls of these schools. Something for these tiny kids to look at and inspire them; remind them that people care and have faith in them. Ava’s classmates did a beach scene (as these schools are no where near beach or ocean) and since that’s where we live, they thought that would be a great thing and then…of course….they did a winter snowman scene. Very Canadian, with the CN Tower in the background. Super cool, so we’ll recreate these drawings on the walls there and sign all their names to them. Leaving our mark.

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Should be an inspiring trip, one I hope our family never forgets and sets us on a path to continue our dreams for change.

Hasta luego!!

Plans are being finalized

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We are in the final stages of hiring a contractor on the ground in Mexico. We decided not to hire our original company, based in Guanajuato, rather we wanted to give the local people in Dolores Hidalgo work and help that community even more. The four kindergarten schools have the same needs as they are not run by the Federal Government in Mexico therefore those schools do not receive any funding or help in any way. They are desperate for our help and are very much looking forward to our arrival. We are planning on travelling in February, but work on some of the patios and playgrounds will already be underway. Cesar, is the Executive Director in Mexico and our plans are in very good and capable hands.

We have been asked to a meeting with The Rotary Club in Guanajuato while we are there as well. It too would like our help with some local schools in our city. I am very much looking forward to meeting with them and seeing how HFM can help. We are still looking for donations, so please, if you can, donate as we are raising money for phase two and three. We have some very good ideas that we are working on to help even more kids and families in Mexico and will share them with you once we get something a bit more concrete. Very exciting times and I can feel this is going to be a very special year.

We ran across this article (link below) over the weekend and I can’t help but feel a certain pride in the human race. I’ve always been of the mind if you want something done….you’re gunna have to do it yourself. I can only hope these groups march with peace in mind and that the intentions of taking back their country is for the better good. Change starts with one movement at a time.

http://www.businessinsider.com/mexican-vigilantes-battle-drug-cartel-photos-2014-1

Keep on, keepin on….

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There’s always more that could have been done, more items that could have been gotten, more push for people to get involved, but in the end if you did the best you could, how can you go wrong.

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I am super proud of what we accomplished at Hope For Mexico’s first fundraising event. Over 15 thousand dollars raised. I am so thankful to those who came out and gave your support. I must admit, I was hoping for more of the Mexican community’s support. Those that came, I had no doubt you would show – so thank you. Today, I am making a plea to the Mexican community I adore so much. How can we continue to grow together? What can we do as a united group to make a difference in your country? Let’s do this together. I need your help.

I still need donations as we have been invited to The Rotary Club in Guanajuato City’s meeting. They would like to make a proposal to us on schools that we can help in the city I love so dearly and that Cesar lives in and calls home. Please, make a donation; big or small and help us change the lives of Mexican children. I can feel the movement happening, I will show you how we can make a difference. But it starts here, with those who have chosen to be a part of Hope For Mexico.

So please, click on the donations tab and give what you can.

I will travel to Mexico in early January and get the budgets and permits for the 4 schools that we have committed to help rebuild. I will also listen to what others need and can use our help with. We will explore getting flu shots to children in remote areas, doctors and dentists. We have many ideas that Hope For Mexico is working on and we need your continued support.

We are planning on being in Mexico in early 2014 to rebuild the 4 kindergarten schools we so successfully raised the money for on November 21. Thank you to all of those who made that possible. It was more than I ever imagined.

Hope for Mexico takes donations from far and wide too…so don’t be shy if you live elsewhere in the world. And pass on our donations page to someone you know who might be interested in making a difference. Thank you.

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“Over” joyed!!

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Wow, what a night. Hope For Mexico’s kick off fundraising event was a super success. Our goal was to raise $10,000 last night and I am “over” joyed to announced that we raised “over” our goal….$15,000 and donations are still coming in this morning. This will allow us to complete phase one and set ourselves up for phase two.

Thank you. Thank you to all my friends (family) in Mexico. Your support and presence was felt last night and your donations were a huge part in helping us reach our goal. We are so looking forward to arriving in Mexico and having you all be there on the ground in Mexico with us to see our hard work come to fruition.

Thank you to my friends and family here in Canada. Your help, your support, your donations, your presence were what made this magical night happen. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to watch my daughter witness our family’s dream come true. It will no doubt forever mark her heart and teach her that when you believe in something and you set a goal….you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Now I get the pleasure of bringing her with us to Mexico as we help rebuild the 4 kindergarten schools that are anxiously awaiting our arrival. What a life lesson for such a little soul. Thank you.

Thank you to Cesar and Lucas, who have given us their unwavering support over the years. Having Cesar here to share this event was the icing on the cake. Next time, Lucas must come too!!

Now….clean up, catch up on sleep (oh but have some more fun with Cesar first) and then start to plan the rebuilding.

Thank you once again….for all your support.

 

16 Days and counting…..

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It’s going to be a mad dash to the finish line, but we won’t stop until the hour our event begins. We have collected some great auction and give away items for Hope For Mexico’s kick off fundraising event. We’ve got Raptors tickets, concert tickets, ipads, Apple TV, satellite radio system, cash cards, gift cards to Holt Renfrew, photography session, executive coaching session, hair salon and restaurant gift certificates. There will be raffle baskets and more! Join us, November 21st at Stone Soup Innovation Lab, 49 Fraser Avenue in Toronto’s Liberty Village. From 6-11PM, there will be live music, food and drinks.

Any maybe you can even get some holiday shopping done. Admission is free so join us for an evening of giving. All proceeds will go to help 4 kindergarten schools in a rural village in Mexico’s Guanajuato state.

Feel free to click on the donate button and give now. Our goal is to be half way to our fundraising goal of $10,000 before the event begins. Help us get there.

“We make a living by what we get. We make a life by what we give.” ~Winston Churchill

 

A whole lotta’ laughin’…..

There’s gunna be a whole lotta laughin’ going on in November as my Mexican sunshine is coming to the kick off fundraiser. The one who inspired the peace rally in Dundas Square, the one who supported and encouraged us in the years we tried to adopt, the one and only…..my Mexican brother from another mother, Cesar.

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This is going to be a night to remember and if Cesar can make it….so can you!!

Please join us and help us raise money to rebuild four schools in Mexico. We want to provide a healthy and safe environment for kindergarten kids to go and learn and dream in. Our goal is $10,000 and we will travel to Mexico in early 2014 to complete phase one.

Our kick off fundraiser will be held on Thursday, November 21st in Liberty Village in Toronto’s west end.

49 Fraser Avenue at Stone Soup Innovation Lab

6pm-11pm

We will have live music, Mexican food, amazing auction items up for grabs, drinks and lots of laughs.

Admission is free, but nothing else is……lol.