Imagine you are a boy or a girl, born in remote community of Guerrero (one of the poorest state in Mexico). The closest “big” city (of 100,000 inhabitants) is over two hours away, half of the way on mountain dirt roads. The place is dormant under an implacable heat. Nothing much happens here, especially in the way of entertainment, and one day you hear that a team of foreigners is on their way to do a program in your village, and that they are bringing with them gifts of toys and books. Wow!
The day arrives. The sun is intense, dust is everywhere in the parched landscape, but you are used to having fun playing barefoot in the dirt. Suddenly, the high speakers of the village resonate with the good news that “they” have arrived, and you, along with a couple hundred other children start running as fast as you can to the center of the village, a huge unpaved square next to the colorful church. You are all running down from every hill and corner towards the funny-looking white and green truck which has just pulled up. Four very white looking people and a baby come out of the truck and busy themselves getting out boxes and bags of colorful presents from under tarps. You feel so excited! A few of the community mothers are there with you, displaying their habitual resigned calmness. A couple of dads are also present, looking dignified with their shiny white cowboy hats. And the activity begins!
The funny looking woman with the big straw hat and the odd way of speaking introduces their team, and asks us where are the countries they are all coming from, France, Peru, Canada, Japan! Absolutely no idea! Maybe in Mexico…let’s try that. Nope! Maybe America…Oh someone said Europe and then Asia, and they won books for their answers, chido (cool in colloquial Mexican!). They really have presents for us!
This is what I imagined could have gone through the mind of some of the children we visited during our 5-day campaign in Guerrero. Our desire with each program was to leave a lasting impression, to imprint a fun, positive memory in their hearts and minds, and to teach them through games, theatre and participation about the value of respecting one another, of working together, and of the importance of reading and of books. Our purpose was that years from that day, they would remember that this peculiar group of foreigners traveled from far away on their mountain roads to bring them gifts and laughter, to speak with them, to provoke them to think and reflect, and that through the love, hugs and attention they shared, they made them feel loved, appreciated and valued.
Children’s Day 2010
The event for Children’s Day in the Refuge for Battered Women was a success. 25 women and their 40 children and teens attended. They were a very lively group, participating enthusiastically in all the activities. Once again, a friend of ours, professional animator for children (who formerly had her own children’s TV show in Colombia), did a fantastic performance, holding the kids attention for two hours straight and triggering tons of laughter and squeals of joy and excitement. We had beautiful toys and gorgeous books for every child (thanks to your generosity, dear Activated Ministries), and everyone was delighted; children, mothers and the personnel of refuge. We were so thankful to be able to bring joy to these innocent and often deeply perturbed lives, some of them being pointed out to us as having been badly abused at the tender age of five. It was a wonderful feeling to be able to help them forget the darkness they are coming from and give them a real kids afternoon.
Our big event for Children Day was held at the Alianza Francesa, the French cultural center. We invited 75 children from two orphanages, and the cultural center invited some of their students. To be honest, we were not sure how both groups would mix, but a magic occurred, due to the inspiration of a sweet little girl. Meet Gaby, 10 years old, who, when she heard that the Children Day event would be held with orphaned kids, told her mom that she had some toys which she was not using. He mom replied that she would be welcome to give one of her toys away. Gaby replied that actually she wanted to give ALL her toys away to these children who had so little. So she did. She personally distributed over seventy beautiful, huge stuffed animals, dolls, board games, etc. to each of the children present. Tears welled up in her eyes at times, as she parted from some of her favorite toys, but she did it! Her determination to carry out her mission moved us all. The youngest orphan girl, six years old, who has only been in the institution for three months, delightfully received the biggest, hugest, cutest stuffy. Dear Gaby was not the only one with tears in her eyes! The children were treated to a fascinating Mayan theatre play, “El Pajaro Tsiu” (The Tsiu bird), to rousing games and animation, to a French clown performing magic and teaching the older ones to play cards tricks, to snacks, cakes, toys and books. As they left, arms laden with presents, and minds brimming with the excitement of a jam-packed afternoon, their radiant little faces were wonderful to watch.
On our Children Day event with the DIF of Nuevo Leon in Monterrey we were able to treat 200 special children and young people with developmental disabilities to a 30 minute puppet show, songs, fun activities, and lots of books promoting values!
In total due to your generous donation of books, we distributed 4,150 story books, activity books and coloring books to 1,350 children during this season.