Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Those readers of a certain age will remember the comedian and movie star, Bob Hope. He had this to say about love and Christmas, "My idea of Christmas, whether old-fashioned or modern, is very simple: loving others. Come to think of it, why do we have to wait for Christmas to do that?"
We don't, of course, but Christmas can be a very sad time for children and their parents, even in this paradise of Puerto Vallarta. Not all children here have access to clean water, decent food, good education or even fun. If you take a 20-minute bus ride away from the hotel zone and the downtown area towards the mountains and the jungle, or if you take a boat ride south along the coast, you'll come across poverty and living conditions where families need your help.
You can provide a little or a lot of that help by becoming involved with the IFC (International Friendship Club). You can take an award-winning IFC Home Tour for just $600 pesos. If you are an owner of a home that has interesting architectural, historical or decorative features, you could lend it to the club for three hours on a Tuesday or Wednesday morning and our docents will show it as part of the Home Tours. You could become a volunteer with IFC, attend a party or a lecture, or just give a donation. All the money raised by the club is used to help Mexicans around the Bay of Banderas.
Imagine having to take a four-hour bus ride to Guadalajara with your little boy or girl who needs radiation or chemotherapy as a treatment for cancer and you both have to do that dreadful journey there and back each week for eight weeks. How can you afford the bus-fare? How do you keep, say, a five-year-old amused on the bus? What happens when you get to the big city and you need transport from the bus station to the hospital? What about overnight accommodation? Some of IFC's financial donations goes to support CANICA - Children With Cancer, which helps these families with these expenses.
One of most dedicated IFC volunteers is Susan Davolos, a permanent resident who speaks fluent Spanish. Susan loads her pickup truck every few weeks and heads out into some of the very poorest areas of town with supplies of lentils, beans, diapers and other supplies. She calls in at the Salvation Army to give food to their food bank program, says Buenos Días to the folks at Dives en Misericordia who run a soup kitchen and provide medical care, and then she stops to spend a few minutes with, Maria, a disabled lady who sells packages of supplies from her wheelchair to kids for a local school. Susan's care and love for the poor and homeless is underpinned by the financial support of the IFC.
A very good news story for children living in and close to Boca De Tomatlan happened this month. The medical/dental clinic was opened in that village, which is a 40 minute bus ride south of here, and will now serve about ten villages in the area. For the first time ever the people will have access to medical and dental help without having to travel to Puerto Vallarta. IFC is proud to have purchased all of the medical equipment for the dental clinic and that one of our members, Christina Martell, was instrumental in making it happen. IFC will continue to underwrite some operating expenses of the clinic.
You can also help the children of PV by buying tickets for the club's Christmas Party at 6:00 pm on the 19th at Coco Tropical, where we will enjoy excellent food, music to dance to and an evening under the stars close to the lapping waves of the Pacific. Can't get much more romantic than that! Tickets and the menu are available at the office or online at ifcvallarta.com. Everyone is welcome.
Please think about the kids who need you help here and answer this question from The Grinch Who Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss:
"Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn't before!
What if Christmas, he thought, doesn't come from a store.
What if Christmas...perhaps...means a little bit more?"
And please check out the IFC's website at ifcvallarta.com to see the latest news from the club and what's coming up in the next few months.The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta A.C. It is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico, 48300. Phone: 322-222-5466. Website: ifcvallarta.com Email: ifcvallarta(at)gmail.com