Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - Here's the latest news and some inspirational stories from Pasitos de Luz, a non-profit organization provides children with various handicaps with a caring and loving environment, along with treatment for individual rehabilitation, nutritional meals, physical stimulation and therapy.
A Pasitos Story: Little Baby Milagros is a True Miracle
Milagros is a little girl with a big personality who recently turned one year old. She was diagnosed with Down Syndrome at birth. However, instead of letting her daughter's 'disability' become a hindrance, her mother, Marlén, decided to call her 'Milagros', which means 'Miracles' in Spanish. Marlén sat down with us the other day, in the dining room at Casa Connor, to tell us their story.
Marlén has not had an easy time of it. She lives in Yelapa, a small fishing village south of Mismaloya, with her five children, of whom Milagros is the youngest. Her other children are 14, 13, 11 and 5 years old, and there is not a father in sight. Two of the children's fathers have passed away, while Milagros's father wants nothing to do with her because of her 'disability'. So Marlén is forced to raise five children by herself. She makes about $2,500 MXN per month selling clothes. That is only about $120 USD ($30 USD per week).
When Milagros was born, she measured only 38 cm and weighed just under 3 kilos (about 6.6 lbs). She was tiny! According to Marlén, with the arrival of Milagros, all her children rallied round the little baby girl and the squabbling at home stopped. "They never get tired of kissing her," she says. She called her baby 'Miracles' because, in her eyes, she is a blessing that has helped her family get through some really tough times.
Marlén catches a small boat to Puerto Vallarta every Wednesday and spends two nights in downtown, bringing Milagros to Casa Connor on the Thursday and Friday. Our therapists have helped the little girl gain strength in her legs, arms and torso. She can now sit up by herself, which is another miracle. Before coming to Pasitos de Luz, Milagros could not even roll over!
At the Heart of Pasitos
"The children make you feel more alive" - we talk to La Maestra Marta about her 14 years at Pasitos de Luz:
She is a Pasitos institution who has witnessed first-hand all the changes that our charity has gone through over the years. She started at Pasitos in 2004, after an architect friend of hers said she might be able to find work there. She has been with us ever since and moved with us to Casa Connor, which she describes as a "dream come true."
We ask Maestra Marta why she has stayed at Pasitos de Luz for such a long time. Her answer is simple: "I just love working with the kids. I learn from them every day and never stop learning from them". Marta recognizes that she is never going to get rich working at Casa Connor, but this doesn't bother her. "The best reward is to see the children's smiles. With a single hug, that is enough."
There is one particular little girl that springs to mind when Marta thinks about some of the more challenging children she has worked with. "Her name was Tania," she tells us, "and she just wouldn't stop crying. All the other children in the classroom said I should remove her. I refused!" Tania was on the autistic spectrum and her parents hoped that Pasitos would prepare her for mainstream education.
"She had a little toy rabbit that she would cling to constantly. Gradually, I managed to wean her off the rabbit, so that she would start engaging with the learning materials. I actually bumped into Tania many years later and she had just started at secondary school. I was thrilled for her!"
Welcome Back Chris! Our resident Brit Returns Full-Time
Next time you visit Casa Connor, you may well hear an exotic accent from 'across the pond'. Chris Jacobs spent six months volunteering at Pasitos de Luz four years ago, helping out with communications. Some of you probably met him at one of our events. Well, the man from Ascot, Berkshire (in the United Kingdom), is back with us full-time, sporting a beard. Chris started in his role as Communications and Events Officer in May and will be a regular fixture at Casa Connor. He is also the new editor of our bi-monthly newsletter, so please excuse any strange spellings or British turns of phrase!
From Illinois to Nayarit
This month we had the pleasure of welcoming forty students, plus their teachers, from Leyden High School in Franklin Park, a suburb of Chicago, in the USA. They spent four days with us and really made a difference, mucking in with kitchen duties, feeding the children, helping out with therapies and generally keeping our kids entertained.
Many of the students spoke Spanish, having parents from Spanish-speaking countries, with a number originating from Mexico. The trip represented an amazing opportunity to re-connect with their roots and see Mexico with their own eyes. Franklin Park is by no means a wealthy neighborhood and, for many students, this was also their first ever trip abroad. We were delighted to be part of it.
This is the third year that Leyden High School have visited us and we really hope they will come back again in 2019. Thanks for coming guys!
Win a Dream Holiday to Las Vegas and Support Pasitos de Luz
Don't ever say we never give our friends and supporters the chance to let their hair down a bit! We know it's a bit early, but have you started thinking about New Year's Eve yet? How does six nights in Las Vegas sound?
Every ticket sold will make a HUGE DIFFERENCE to the children at Casa Connor, especially as we are struggling to cover our running costs this year. Click HERE to buy your tickets.
And, if you already have plans for New Year's Eve, worry not! You can pick other dates that work better for you. Thank you for supporting Pasitos de Luz!
Our Sincerest Thanks
We were truly honored to be chosen as the beneficiary of the first-ever charity dinner organized by the Asociación Culinaria Vallartense. This is a brand new association bringing together the top chefs in Puerto Vallarta, each committing themselves to helping local causes. Their motto is "we help by cooking."
We would like to thank the five chefs and their extremely hardworking staff for putting on an incredible event that raised vital funds for Pasitos. As we mentioned before, we are struggling to meet our basic running costs this year and the money raised means we can continue employing dedicated careers and therapists to look after our children.
Gracias Vallarta Lifestyles for our New Website!
We would like to sign off our June newsletter by thanking Alexis and Diego Silva Brisset and their web team at Vallarta Lifestyles for lending us their time and expertise to develop and launch a brand new website, completely free of charge. We must also thank Barb Bremner, one of our Board members, for painstakingly writing and proofing all the text.
Our new website, which still lives at pasitosdeluz.org, went live a few weeks ago, and we are really happy with it. You can meet some of our kids, and learn a little bit more about why they came to Pasitos de Luz in the first place, learn more about the different services we offer and see important projects for which we are fundraising.
Located in El Pitillal, Pasitos de Luz is a marvelous day care facility for children with special needs. This non-profit organization provides children with various handicaps with a caring and loving environment, along with treatment for individual rehabilitation, nutritional meals, physical stimulation and therapy. For more information, Click HERE or visit PasitosDeLuz.org.