Celebrated on the 1st and 2nd of November is an event that dates back from pre-Columbian times; Day of the Dead, or “Dia de los Muertos”. Although the name is suggestive, and it’s timing very similar, Dia de los Muertos is not at all similar to the celebrations of gory Halloween. It is actually a very special, beautiful ritual, where the living remembers their departed relatives lovingly.
Xcaret Park in Playa del Carmen honors this great tradition by celebrating the Festival of Life and Death Traditions every year on October 30th and 31st and on November 1st and 2nd. Xcaret provides families from all around the world including locals the opportunity to partake in activities exclusive to these days. This includes: the Hanal Pixan ritual (food for the souls), cuisine of the region, workshops, crafts, gifts and altars, visual arts exhibitions, theater, dance and gala concerts. As a large sponsor of development of boys and girls with Save the Children in Quintana Roo, they invited the children from the Ludotecas to come participate and enjoy these activities for themselves absolutely free. 50 children in total from the 2 remaining Ludotecas in Playa del Carmen partook in two dif-ferent activities organized by Xcaret. The first was a march down 5th Avenue, the main tourist strip/ popular spot in Playa del Carmen. Children from the Ludotecas and local schools from all around the city dressed up in white, with their face painted in the traditional style singing and marching to a catchy tune.
The second event took place the very next day where 2 volunteers and staff accompanied 3 parents and 2 ludotecarias and 30 children to the giant Xcaret theme park. The group was split into two and they each went to separate activities in the park. They all had a memorable time, however, the best moment of the day as commented by many was the amazing face painting done to our very own volunteer by 5- year-old Andres.
Because of the little number of supervisors from Save the Children, the staff and volunteers we provided were essential to ensure these activities proceeded as planned for the enjoyment of the children. Thank you for supporting this project and allowing these children to experience all that other children in the region would have been able to.
All the best
On the 27th of June at 9:30am, 12 volunteers left the playa house excited and anxious, as they did not know what the day would bring them. They were told to wear running shoes, sunscreen and to bring water – nothing more, nothing less. They were escorted to the meeting point in two overcrowded collectivos buzzing with energy; the Amazing Race, Playa del Carmen edition was to start in 30 minutes.
A week prior, the volunteers were introduced to the idea of this year’s mini-challenge fundraising event. They were inspired with the idea of being able to help the community projects even more than they already had. Our volunteers have been generously giving their time by being on projects here physically; however, there are larger aspects that can be covered by monetary donations. Such things include replacing broken/ flimsy furniture for the children, supplying medicine or equipment for the vets, and scholarships for children whose mums work in the school (as their wage was paying for their child’s school fee, earning them little to no money). As all of them have worked in the projects and had fallen in love with the people they were fundraising for, the fire burned even more and it motivated them to bring their cause to those back home.
This year, the staff organized a mini-race in the style of the popular television show, ‘The Amazing Race’. The lucky 12 were split into 4 groups; blue, green, red and yellow and the aim was to out-raise the other groups before the race, and to out-race the other groups on the day.
Friday aka. Race day arrived, and it was revealed that they raised $2,434.45 in 4 days; smashing the initial goal! They had successfully completed the first half of the challenge and with the air of excitement; they were ready to start the final part. Equipped with only 100 pesos ($8USD) they were to navigate their way around Playa del Carmen to “secret” locations and complete challenges. Except for the Yellow team who raised the most, who won an additional 20 pesos to their budget (less than $2USD, big spender!) and the lead start. The race was not going to be easy, but some teams found themselves lost for an hour or waiting for collectivos for 45 minutes. The Blue team won with a time of 1 hour and 45 minutes, and the yellow team finishing at 3 hours and 10 minutes). Congratulations to teams Red and Green for spending ONLY 45 pesos in travel!
A special mention and thank you to our partners at the Save the Children ludoteca, Special needs School and Coco’s cat rescue for being a part of our locations in our race.
But most of all, a giant congratulations to our incredible 12; Beth, Lauren, Nandita, Julia, Freddy, Daisy, Dani, Kim, Katie, Alli and Hannah for all that you’ve done. It was a successful challenge, successful fundraise and an incredibly fun day that hopefully you all will remember for the rest of your lives. These funds will be added to those raised through GlobalGiving for the improvement of the Ludoteca, Equine Therapy and Integral Care Center in Playa del Carmen and Coco’s Cat Rescue; whether it is new equipment, furniture, supplies or scholarships.
This month has been a very active and successful! A major success was the delivering of the Emergency First Responder (EFR) training course to our partners here in Playa del Carmen. Not only are we equipping them with lifesaving skills, we are creating a safer environment for the wider community. Knowledge is empowering in all forms, but the critical knowledge of how to potentially save a life or prevent death, transcends this.
There are approx. 4 million traffic accidents registered in Mexico each year, claiming the lives of 24,000 people. In conjunction with work related accidents and other incidents of random nature, it is imperative that all of the staff within GVI and our partners are equipped to assist in these emergencies. By providing emergency treatment you could be potentially saving their lives, or minimizing the lasting damage to their health. This if possible, is even more critical to our partners who work with vulnerable people on a daily basis. The children are vulnerable and in our care, we therefore have a duty to do everything in our power to maintain a safe environment.
In total we have trained all 9 Ludotecarias from the Save the Children Ludotecas in Playa del Carmen and Tulum, and 3 members of the Special Needs School from the Equine therapy and Integral Care center throughout the month of April. In preparation for their training the new EFR recruits were given a booklet of basic information to read to assist them in understanding the material that was going to be presented to them. During this initial phase the EFR teaches you how to respond to an emergency, what you should do, who you should contact and how to administer potentially lifesaving treatment until professional help arrives.
This training included how to respond to emergencies with children. This is particularly relevant for the Ludotecarias who deal with up to 100 children in one day. It is also relevant to the special needs school, for although they are dealing with children with far more complex medical needs, the basic treatment in life threatening situations is universal and an essential skill for anyone working with vulnerable people to possess.
In addition to dealing with urgent life threatening injury, the EFR also trains practitioners in secondary injury care such as splints, minor head injuries and other non-life threatening injuries. These are the skills that are most frequently required by emergency responders, particularly those working with children. The ludotecarias often have to deal with large numbers of play related injuries such as scraped knees and bump heads. Equally sometimes more than a basic dressing can be required and a more advanced skill is required to treat the injury.
After a challenging couple of days of training, our brave recruits had to toil through an exam about everything they had learnt, that they all passed with excellence.
It was a pleasure to share imperative knowledge with our implementing partners. The EFR training was a chance to help improve the organizations and ultimately make the projects safer for everyone involved. The wider community of Playa del Carmen (inclusive of every child, person and tourist) benefits from having more people in possession of these skills should some accident befall them.
The children we work with that attend the toy libraries (ludotecas) come from different social environments and backgrounds within the Yucatan pennisula; the toy libraries were created to offer a safe environment where children can go to play and learn about their rights which empower them to stand after themselves and become better citizens. The toy libraries are free and kids can attend it all day long if they want to. The ladies that run it are women from the community (mothers) that have been hired and trained by Save the Children to be in charge of the ludotecas. They have 9 of them in total in Quintana Roo, and like many NGOs, Save the Children also rely on donations to run.
The funds that we raised this time thanks to your donations, have helped to buy a stereo and a white board that was very much needed by one of the ludoteca we support. It might look like a stereo and a white board are not vital, however, activities such as music and dance, which are a core value on every children’s development; require a stereo and until now, they had been using a couple of small speakers that didn’t allow the children to hear. Also, they had a very old white board for different activities which was broken. Now they can use their new board for their different activities.
Every week they have a topic which can go from children’s rights to different values like solidarity, empathy, environmental education, health and nutrition, etc. They empower these values and topics through different workshops during the day; sometimes the volunteers prepare presentations on a GVI laptop and have the children sitting down around the computer. Therefore, we have given a down payment to buy projector too so that all the children watch the screen which enables better understanding of the topic presented.
I hope you can see that the items will really enhance the children's experience at the ludotecas which are greatly needed.
Thank you for supporting this project.
We are delighted to bring you news of how recent donations for this project have been used by helping to pay some of the therapies that are necessary for the children on the Equine therapy and integral care centre. They have also helped to maintain the school and buy teaching resources that they need in order to move forward on their learning. Therapies can be very expensive in the area, and the government lacks resources to provide adequate spaces & treatment to these children.
The children that received the scholarship were Daniela & Yara.
Daniela is a 6 year old girl. She has been diagnosed with a delay in development caused by hypoplasia of the corpus callosum. Yara is a 9 year old girl, and her diagnosis is frontal cortical atrophy, which causes hypotonic cerebral palsy and delayed psychomotor development.
They are both currently attending the Equine Therapy Center and special needs school where they are given different therapies to improve their coordination, muscle strength, communication skills and balance. During their time in the special needs school, they are stimulated in a sensibilization room through different textures, sounds and lights which helps their brain to make new neural connections and facilitate their learning and communication. They also play games, sing songs, and play music and dance which helps their body coordination. The equine therapy helps them too to strengthen their muscles, balance and coordination and have some fun!
All the therapies given in the centre help them improve their skills to become more independent and interact with their peers and adults. As the centre runs only with donations, these funds and your support have helped greatly to continue with the amazing work they do.
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GVI Charitable Trust Manager