Volunteering has always played an important role in my life. Back in Winnipeg I was actively involved in volunteering my time to a variety of organizations from YBC to the YMCA and everything in between. I was a scorekeeper, an Akela, an aquafit instructor, a fundraiser, a music librarian and a Tball coach. I organized pre-school programs, chauffeured hundreds of students around, baked, cooked and taught ESL. And I know I’m still missing a few things from this list.
I’ve been living in Mazatlan for over nine months now and feeling truly blessed that I am able to volunteer here as well. This past weekend was amazing and I spent the entire time volunteering with two organizations.
On Saturday I arrived at La Vina at noon. Along with several others, we prepared food and packed coolers. We then headed out to San Antonio, a very impoverished colonia here in Mazatlan. Many families live in squatter shacks with no electricity or running water. Most children do not attend school and eagerly anticipate our Saturday activities. They help carry chairs and tables to our meeting area, which is basically rocky soil with a couple of tarps set up to shade us from the sun. Music is followed by a bible study for the older kids and coloring for the younger ones. Then we served them tacos, watermelon and cold water to drink. The children then helped take the tables and chairs back to the storage area and were rewarded with cookies.
On Sunday I arrived at Las Flores Resort to help with the Ducky Derby. I belong to an organization called Vecinos Con Carino, ( Neighbors Who Care). Funds raised at this event pay for school inscriptions for needy students. Attending school is optional, but many are unable to afford the necessary uniforms and supplies. Funds raised are also allocated to a program in Teacapan where medicine, diapers and clothing are provided. Children are left unsupervised all day while their parents go out to work. Many are ineligible for government healthcare as their births were never recorded. It was most gratifying to see the support from the community at this event, which also featured chicken shit bingo along with the actual duck race.
There is no end to the number of organizations here in Mazatlan that rely on the efforts of expats and snowbirds in order to run successful programs to assist the poor. I am actually astounded at the extent of the poverty here and am thankful that I am able to do my part in helping the less fortunate.