A Community Comes Together In Mexico
by Katherine Fisher
I showed up around 10 a.m. and the buzz was already going, loudly. When I arrived, the cement truck was already there, ready to unload as much concrete as we needed. The kids were amazed at the sight of this huge, monstrous truck, and they were running around with unbridled excitement and more smiles than you can imagine. The whole community, over 250 volunteers in all, were here, joined together to create a safe, eco-friendly playground for kids.
The whole endeavor was being spearheaded by Nicole Swedlow, Founder of entreAmigos in San Pancho, who had teamed up with Molly Fisher (my Sister), myself and the of crew of our organization, Destination:PEACE, for today’s project. Our organization is a voluntourism organization in Mexico that allows travelers to combine volunteering with the experience of exploring the culture of the country (and a little yoga and authentic Mexican food mixed in on the side).
Volunteers had gathered for the day, using recycled and reused materials to build a safe space for kids to play. Not only were the kids making a new playground, but they were also learning about the basics of recycling. I walked around in amazement at the sight of the entire community coming together. Everyone was wearing the bright, green-colored T-shirts that had been given out, and I couldn’t help but notice the multitude of smiling faces and dirty hands around me, not to mention the camaraderie by everyone involved. I felt like I was in a movie. The wheelbarrows were in motion and the buzz continued.
Everyone was helping, including: Juan, Junior, Elli, Ana, Gaby, John, Elliott, Lalo, Molly, Gerardo, Miguel, Carlos, Christian, Nikhol, Nicole, Nova, Chito, Dahlia and many more; an unforgettable sight to see so many familiar faces coming together for a common goal. I couldn’t help but pick up my camera and begin taking pictures.
I eventually put my camera down and dove into the dirty work myself. For some reason I was drawn to the tires that were being used to create stools for the outdoor tables. To construct the stools we had to hammer in water line pipes to the tops of the tires — this is where one sits — then we had to dig the holes where we would anchor the tires. We measured things, we rolled the tires, we broke nails (at least I did), and the end result, after many long hours in the sun, was euphoric. A safe place for the kids to eat lunch, play games and study.
During this whole time there were kids and adults painting huge murals, the color and beauty of which were truly a sight to see. I was also intrigued by the plastic bottle project where the volunteers were taking bottles, cutting them up and creating fan-like shapes to stick into the fence. Of course the plastic bottles are beautifully painted so they create a flower essence — a great home art project. Also, all around, friends were painting benches, chairs and tables.
Then, when it was time for lunch, without asking, one of the local neighbors near the school opened her house up and invited in the entire team. While we had been working, the neighbor had prepared delicious, fresh ceviche — a specialty in this part of the country — along with fresh jimaica juice to wash it all down with.
Despite having done countless of similar projects with my group, I kept thinking throughout the day how this particular experience was one of my favorites. I may not have another day quite as memorable as this one, but that was fine with me, this was just the beginning of what were sure to be many more wonderful experiences.
Founded in 2005, PEACE Mexico, works hand-in-hand with communities in Mexico to provide holistic education combined with community action programs that enable people to improve their quality of life, as well as, their financial stability. English classes, after-school programs, recycling initiatives, and a free mobile spay/neuter clinic are among the various projects.
Destination:PEACE was born out of an idea by sisters Molly Mendez Fisher and Katherine Fisher to couple volunteer opportunities with the amazing landscape that the Bay of Banderas offers as a vacation destination. During a Destination:PEACE Volunteer Vacation, guests will experience another culture while making a difference in the lives of others: children, women, families, animals and the environment.
A volunteer will help raise awareness and contribute to the overall love, community and hope to the people and animals affiliated non-profit organizations in Mexico. Destination:PEACE gives back a portion of their proceeds to the non-profit in order to further their mission.
Katherine has combined her background in business and sales with her passion for Yoga and has committed herself full-time to building, organizing and promoting Destination:PEACE. She hopes to one day see Destination:PEACE grow from infancy to maturity and become self-sustainable.
For more information please visit www.destinationpeacemexico.com