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the big C.

September 6th, 2009

Well we are back and if I were to label my feeling after our inaugural project as an independent organization, it would be that of deep contentment. On the most important level, we created an opportunity for some teens with cancer to participate in some new and fun activities and just enjoy some freedom. 14 young teens, 2 staff from AMANC, and 1 paramedic joined my kids and I, and our host family for a total of 28 who took part in Campamento 31 Pies (feet, not pastries).

Contentment came first in seeing the fun that we were having together, and knowing that this was the first trip ever for some of these teens, and that without it, most would never have had the opportunity to go quadding, horseback riding and to a huge waterslide park. A more sobering perspective of course, was knowing that there were some teens who may not have the opportunity again.

We have stated that we value finding places to assist that are under-resourced, and that we want to create partnerships with those from the area we are working in and again I find contentment in how we addressed those values.

The teens we brought were from more marginalized communities, and from homes and families with few resources; our host family live in the community we invited the teens to; our cooks were from the same community; the money raised to take the teens to the waterpark came from a group of young adults who work at Proctor & Gamble in Mexico City who wanted to help; the t-shirts were designed and donated by a young adult in Colima; and all the staff and leaders were from Mexico.

Support in the form of financial resources did come from Canada as well, and without it the camp wouldn’t have taken place. But to be true to our values, we intentionally didn’t do it all ourselves, and to be frank, we couldn’t have!

We have heard back from the staff of AMANC, and the teens and their parents, and all have expressed their desire to make this an annual event, and their contentment to have been able to participate.

And that, of course merely adds another layer to my own.

(Check the projects page soon for pics of our camp, and this blog for some comments from my kids – Diego, 11 and Dia, 9 – regarding their perspective of the camp)

Trip update July 10/09

July 10th, 2009

Finally winding down…..last night in Mexico City, staying at a friend´s home before taking the 3am taxi to the airport. But will be phoning for a different kind of ride this time :)

It´s been a packed but productive trip. Too many details, so will just hit some highlights:

- met with some young Mexican professionals, who are raising money among their friends, to send the teens who will be at our camp, to a water park in Cuernavaca for a day.

- met with another couple, who just lost their business so are unable to help financially. However, they both sing in a well-known choir in Mexico City. They came up with the idea to hold a benefit concert in the new year, with all proceeds going to One Corner projects. They arranged a meeting with the director, who agreed and looks like they will be performing a concert in February in one of many beautiful churches in Mexico City.

- spent a lot of time with the couple who are hosting the teens who are coming to their camp, and am just impressed with their desire to help, to disrupt their lives and property for a week, giving us free rein :) to their horses, quads, living space…

They will be doing much of the purchasing and organizing before we get there.

- Have spoken to a few other individuals from different parts of the country, who are willing to come and give some motivational and encouraging talks to these teens who are battling cancer.

- The buy-in by people from here who want to help both now and in the future with this and other projects has just been incredible.

- Spent 3 days visiting Aguascalientes, and more importantly a municipality called El Llano, to assess the needs of the 150 communities represented. Through some fortuitous events, managed to have a meeting with the Municipal President, who laid out for us what he sees are the priorities for his community, and where the official budget he has to work with falls drastically short.

- He was very humble and in a bit of shock that we would find his community and extend the willingness and desire to help where we can. We have some incredible opportunities to help bring about some long-term change to this community, in the areas of employment, medical services and education.

I really couldn´t be more pleased and just continue to extend the opportunity for you to jump in and join us! We still need to raise money for this camp for these teens, so please contact me if you want to contribute. Thanks!

One-eyed rabbits and Super Mario

July 7th, 2009

(I must first note for the purposes of contextual colour, that I am writing this outside a cafe in Aguascalientes, Mexico, drinking a cajeta cappuccino and smoking a cigar. Paradiso)

My latest Mexican adventure started out, as is so often the case, with a taxi ride. There are taxis you should definitely grab from the airport in Mexico City, and ones that you should instinctively ignore – aka the ones I usually end up in. The chariot of choice this time turned out to be a one-eyed VW rabbit, circa 1985, conveniently also missing the driver’s side mirror – both apparantly unnecessary options on this model. Besides, who really needs to see what’s behind them or illuminate what’s coming up anyway? Pshaw!

Anyway, the whole adrenaline-manufacturing experience started out inauspiciously with a whispered conversation between the two drivers who seemed to share this choice cab, deciding? voting? arguing? over who got to/had to drive me. Once that decision was finalized, the next whispered convo was about where in the santa maria my hotel was – a discussion you ideally want to observe ending rapidly, conclusively, and with both men smiling confidently, not shaking their heads in defeated but game despair.

Nonetheless, with a spastic jolt, we set off to my final destination (morbidity intentional)! I jump in the back, selfishly thinking that if something untoward were to happen, like us careening headfirst into another vehicle, outfitted with the same options as we sported, I would have at least a few layers of metal and other more…..uh… organic materials, to maybe shield me from the worst (look, I’m only human and my compassion only runs so deep:). But, Fransisco, in an attempt to perhaps persuade me that he really is a good guy and not at all interested in kidnapping me; and that his self-confessed somewhat dubious driving and navigational skills, were still sufficient to get us where we need to go, invited me to join him in the front – so we could talk better!!!! (Turns out, that was code for, “come up here whitey so I can better look at that half-&*^% map you printed off of Google with your hotel thumbtacked blindly somewhere in the vicinity of Mexico City’s ……..tail.” I paraphrase).

Let me remind you here, that we are, at the time of his friendly request, in a dead heat in the Super Mario Kart World that is driving in Mexico City. And Paco is as oblivious to lanes, other players, and the threat of real injury should we happen to ‘fall off Mario world’ as if this were virtual not reality. Now, I’m 6’2″, and already somewhat cramped in the back with whatever luggage didn’t fit in the copious trunk of the Rabbit. But, not wishing to offend (really, at this point I’m still worried?), I manage to climb and wedge myself – cledging is the official term I believe – over Paco, and both front seats, into what is now a front row seat to my own mortality. Somewhere in that transition, I think Fransisco and I bonded for a moment, but I’m not really willing to explore that.

I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but invite you to imagine it with me if you’re so inclined. Really – next time you watch or play Super Mario Kart – picture a one-eyed, beat-up black rabbit, with a may-as-well-be-blindfolded Paco driving, me as an even whiter-than-normal whitey alternating between scrunching into a foetal position, and thinking jumping out the window might be safer – all to the soundtrack of Tourrete’s style screaming and swearing replacing the tinny tunes of Nintendo.

Suffice it to say, that besides stopping in the middle of a traffic circle, so that Fransisco could flag down remarkably unwilling drivers at nearly midnight – IN MEXICO CITY !!! – and ask directions, it was just another taxi ride in Mexico.

Ok, I’m exhausted just reliving that. I will add more appropriate updates on some cool things happening tomorrow.

July planning trip

June 14th, 2009

I’m off to Mexico City July 4-11 to plan our Camp for Kids with Cancer. We have between 10 and 20 children/teens who are well enough to join us for a few days of simple fun and recreation away from their parents and their familiar context. The camp is in August, but lots to prep for beforehand.

I’m going to visit Raul, who will be hosting the kids at his property in Ajusco, just south of Mexico City. I will be connecting with some young friends in Mexico City who will be taking time off of work in August to help plan and run the camp.

And I’m going to a village in Aguascalientes to explore some new possibilities and opportunities for a new project. I will keep you posted on my trip and post an update when I return.

Take a look at our project page if you are interested in helping out in any way.