Saturday, 31 July 2010

So near, yet so far...

As soon as we drive over the border, it is very evident we are stepping on foreign soil. Forget clean, sterile, and orderly, say hello to dirt, disorganization and poverty. The road that parallels the city provides instant saddening views of run-down shacks strewn down mountain sides along with their garbage. As we drive father down the coast to Ensenada, still in view is the ever present poverty, but the ocean views are spectacular.

We have been conducting missions here for over two years.
These missions provide food and needed supplies to two different orphanages. The orphanages have approximately 40-50 children at any given time, some with special needs. Some of the children have been dropped off at the orphanages doors by parents too poor to feed them and more than likely have experienced some physical or sexual abuse. But they are the fortunate ones, at least they do not survive by living off the garbage dumps.

The downturn of the economy and violence between the warring drug cartels have all but dried up any support these orphanages used to receive. Too many times we have come down to find they were out of propane or the electricity was going to be cut off. Airline Ambassadors has set up a fund called the
Mexican Orphans Fund through which we have been able to help out one of the orphanages, Casa de Paz, for the last 20 months with their electricity and propane. They have been trying to be more self-sufficient, but they still desperately need our help.

The other orphanage is called Pequenos Hermanos and we were saddened to find out on our last mission in July that their needs well exceeded what we originally thought. They had been cooking up rice, adding water to it and serving it as "rice soup" to the children. Our goal now is to be able to provide help and needed supplies to both orphanages through our fund.

Most of the volunteers that go on these missions are repeat volunteers. It is easy to bond with the children and each other. Once they see the needs of these children it is easy to get hooked. Besides providing the help, we are also fortunate to stay in a gated beach front privately owned home. We make the time to enjoy the local cuisine and spectacular ocean views. The needs presented to us are overwhelming and never-ending but we do what we can a little bit at a time. After the missions are done, we are exhausted and filled with mixed emotions of fulfillment and sadness.

As we drive back over the border again it is hard to believe such a foreign land is only two hours away.

Becky Gahman
AAI Mexico Mission Coordinator


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