Flood Relief Effort CHIAPAS, MEXICO ~ December 2007 ~
Here is how our new volunteer Dave Peterson paid it forward in Chiapas, Mexico, in his own words.
"I want to first thank the support and contribution from friends, coworkers, family, and a special thanks to Wendy and Denise, founders of Pay It Forward Project (PIFP) who inspired me and our group to make possible an act of "paying it forward" in the mountains of Chiapas, all true blessings.
As many know, the beginning of November was tragic for Tabasco and Chiapas, a flood devastated these states and displaced around a million people, the most affected area was northern Chiapas, where a mudslide had literally wiped out a whole community.
When I learned of the flood, the people in Chiapas came to mind, my grandfather is from there, I had visited lots and I am familiar with the situation of poverty. At the time I was scheduling a business trip to Mexico and I took a week of vacation. With the help of Denise (who at the time was "paying it forward" in Pakistan ) organized fund raising with very positive results. I also asked my best friend Paco who lives in Mexico City for his help, who gladly accepted.
Paco and I had previously made an act of paying it forward In Mexico City with an orphanage that helped children with HIV, an experience like none other. We were moved by what PIFP has been doing around the world and the concept of paying it forward, help someone that in turn could help someone else some day. This was our opportunity to do something meaningful for someone in need in a grander scale.
In the following 6 days after completing the business trip, Paco and I traveled to the Northern area of Chiapas, namely, the towns of Copainala, Punta Alegre and Tecpatan.
Despite the challenges of somewhat danger, inadequate transportation, helping hands and effective information, these were overcome the moment we arrived in Chiapas. Our mission was truly blessed.
Thanks to your contribution and help from local family members that provided a 3.5 ton truck, a helping hand and effective information, we were able to deliver non-perishable food and other basic products to around 170 families affected by the flood, included, we also helped 72 families from a Tzotzil indigenous town, and 13 families from a town called Genaro Vazquez, this community had lost it all.
The work was hard, with over 72 hours of driving and non stop work organizing and delivering the relief, it was all worth it. The giving and the people who stood at the end of the day to personally grab our hands and thank us, made every effort meaningful.
Paco, my family and I had the most wonderful experience, learning that giving is the ultimate feeling, changing the very way we see life, sharing is truly the way of happiness; and that ordinary people like you and me can make a difference in the lives of others.
Those were our words at the three communities; we are here pleased to share what little we have with you.
Thanks for sharing.
Mexico City November 2007
Reaching out to Orphans living with the HIV virus
Dear Denise and Wendy:
I want to thank you for inspiring and supporting an act of Paying It Forward!
Last weekend (17/11/2007) while in Mexico City on a business trip, I took the opportunity to visit la Casa de la Sal A.C. (www.infanciasbreves.org.mx). As I have mentioned before, they are a noble institution that has been taking care of orphans with the HIV virus for the last 20 years. At their house there are 15 children ages 1 to 14. You could hear the kids from the outside, laughing and playing and I got a glimpse of several smiling faces while the administrator opened the door.
My great friends Paco, Jose and another collaborator came along to visit the house and we delivered around 40 pieces of clothes donated by you (Pay it Forward Project), 20 kilos of rice, 20 kilos of beans, 20 kilos of lentils, 60 liters of light milk, 10 liters of cooking oil, 30 bags of assorted pasta for soup, 10 bags of sugarless cereal, and 15 tooth brushes. Unfortunately, we were not allowed to see the children because of their condition, but we could definitely hear them.
Paying It Forward Jalpa Mexico ~ July 2007 ~
Paying It Forward in Mexico….how $130 and five underprivileged yet remarkable kids and their determination improved the lives of over 75 families in a remote Mexican village….
During my recent visit to Mexico, I had the opportunity to work with a group of 15-year old children that had just graduated from primary school in Jalpa, Mexico. I met these kids through an organization called REEL Futures International (to learn more about them please visit their MySpace)
Out of a graduating class of 21 students, only 5 will go on to "prepa" (preparatory school) due to the high costs associated with the "prepa" education and the additional burden of the cost of transportation - there are no schools near Jalpa. These 5 students made the decision to go to college not knowing how they were actually going to pay for the education, but their INTENTION is strong! This strong desire is only part of the fuel that will allow them to fulfill their dreams. Their determination, will, discipline and the choices they make will ultimately determine their future.
As I started speaking with the children, it became evident that the children's expectations were that I was there to help them finance their schooling. However, after explaining the main purpose of my visit and the true meaning of Paying It Forward, or as they call it in Spanish, "Cadena De Favores" (chain of favors), they began to understand the reason for my visit.
Despite their initial disappointment, they had an understanding, greater than their years, of the needs that their community faced. So, after brainstorming with them on a few ideas of how to "Pay It Forward" in their community, the most predominant idea was picked unanimously. We decided to distribute rice and beans to the families in most need.
During the next 4 days, Pay It Forward Project (PIFP), together with these incredible kids, delivered over 300 kilos (660 pounds) of rice and beans to approximately 75 families. In addition to the joy I felt delivering the goods to the families; I have to say I was even more moved by the children who gave of themselves to help with this cause. These children inspired me as they put others' needs ahead of their own by carrying 20 kilos (44 pounds) on their backs and doing it in extreme heat, without one single complaint.
Each family was given two bags of rice and 2 bags of beans. They would keep 1 bag of each for themselves. Then, as a way to Pay It Forward, they gave the other 2 bags to a family who was in need.
I cannot begin to express the impact this experience has had on my life, "Our lives are made, in these small hours, these little wonders, these twist and turns of fate, time falls away, but these small hours still remain…." Rob Thomas, Little Wonders.
I will never forget the excitement I saw in these children's eyes and bright smiles as they learned the true meaning of giving. It was a lesson they will take with them the rest of their lives.
We planted 5 seeds with hopes of seeing them germinate. Knowing the possibility that we have changed the course of one or more of these kids' lives is why we continue to reach out to people less fortunate than ourselves. Maybe not all 5 will remember and truly understand the lesson and take it with them, but if just one of these children understands, it will make it worth it.
In an attempt to keep their excitement high, I bought five copies of the book "The Alchemist" by Paulo Coelho and gave one to each of the children, as this book had an impact in guiding me towards achieving my dreams.
These are just simple examples of how to "Pay It Forward." If you're interested in sponsoring one of these kids you can make your donation now.
To designate your donation for a specific fund or purpose, please enter a description of how you would like your donation to be used under the "Designation" part of the form, such as Jalpa School, Mexico.
To learn about different ways of how you can get involved, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
A quick thank you to Reel Future International for putting us in contact with Jalpa School, to *Do something* for helping us with our bulletins and our other MySpace friend Edna who traveled from El Salvador to help us in Mexico.
Paying It Forward, in Guadalajara, Mexico!
As I was having dinner with Edna (a MySpace friend from El Salvador) 12 year old Reyes approached our table and with a very gentle voice asked us if we were interested in getting our shoes shined. It was midnight and I was tired from a 5 hour bus ride so I looked at him and said “No, gracias”.
I watched him go from table to table and be ignored by everyone; people would say NO without even looking at him or really hearing what he was asking. I realized how late it was and it dawned on me that this little boy might be hungry so I ran to go get his attention and asked him if he had any dinner yet and invited him to join us. He looked down and with a very tender voice he told me he hadn’t had any food and yes he would like to sit with us. So he did, along with his shoeshine box.
During our dinner a little girl selling “Chiclets” (chewing gum) approached us and again I told her we didn’t want any gum. As I watched her walk away I asked Reyes if he knew who she was, he responded with “Yes, she is my sister Karla” so we immediately asked her to join us and Reyes offered to share his meal with her.
It was beautiful to observe how their faces began to light up during our conversations over dinner. Reyes and Karla started telling us about their family, their mother, their little sister and 4 brothers and how their father had left to come to the U.S. to earn a living and to send them money, but never did.
We were having so much fun, that I decided to ask them if they would like to join us the next day on a tour around the city, they excitedly agreed… they were so happy!!!
Since it was getting very late we paid for a taxi to take them back home. The next morning we met at the same location and we also had a chance to meet the rest of the family. It was a great experience as Mom was also able to meet us and after an extensive questioning session of who we were and why we wanted to take her children for a ride on the streets of Guadalajara, she agreed to allow the kids to come out with us on the tour bus.
The Sanchez Family
The next few hours spent with these kids have forever touched my life.
Reyes, who has a scholarship and loves math, Karla who enjoys Spanish class and their little sister Brenda, who is 5 years old and has not yet been able to speak due to a speech impediment were a joy to be with. When you see how polite, how educated and how caring for one another these kids are, it is hard to believe that these kids practically live on the streets. They were so happy to just spend the day touring their own city, with new friends. I would normally be the one to say that a picture is worth a thousand words…but trust me when I tell you that you had to be there to feel the energy these kids were projecting… They filled my heart with so much LOVE!
It was almost the end of our journey, and as they got to enjoy one day when they didn’t have to ask for a shoeshine or to sell Chiclets, they got to be just kids and have fun, they never ever asked for one penny! They were grateful for anything they were given!
Before we left I took some time to speak with Reyes and Karla individually; I wanted to make sure that they understood who we were and why we wanted to spend some time with them. I wanted to pass along the true essence of Paying It Forward. What I wanted more than anything for Karla and Reyes was for them to remember this day, just to remember…. and in 10 or 15 years to pick 3 random kids from the streets of Guadalajara to Pay It Forward with….