Puerto Vallarta, Jalisco, Mexico - Christina Martell loved people. She particularly loved the children of her adopted home in Boca de Tomatlan, (Boca), a coastal village just a half-hour's bus ride south of Puerto Vallarta. Christina was passionate about making their lives better, whether by improving their access to dental health or to education. She was a person who knew that she could not help everyone but she could help some and she worked tirelessly to do that.
Imagine living in a village of, say, a hundred very poor people on the coast of Cabo Corrientes and a thirty minute ride in your panga from the village of Boca. One night, your twelve-year old daughter wakes you up, screaming in pain from an abscessed tooth. You take her by boat to Boca but then have to wait an hour for the first bus to Puerto Vallarta where you now need to find a dentist who can and will help a poor person from the country.
Soon, as the word of free dental treatments and check-ups for children spread, the van became too small to handle the demand, so Christina decided to join with the local government, Rotary Sur in PV and Boca's twin city of Santa Barbara, California. After a couple of years the construction of a medical/dental clinic was announced for Boca and the clinic was formally opened in 2018. Christina again asked IFC for help, and the club agreed to equip the clinic with the chair, x-ray machine and everything needed to provide first class dental care.
At the same time as Christina was taking care of the children's dental health she also decided to fill the need for financial help for education costs that are faced by these very poor families who live in the jungle and along the coast. She set up her own scholarship program that is supported by her family, friends, and complete strangers - all of whom want to help to get these children into school and to stay in school. The program now has fifty-three scholarships, twenty-four of which are funding university students!
Christina died on 2nd February from cancer. She loved her family, the kids in Boca, her many friends throughout this area, her home Casa La Ventana where she died, her orchids, the mountains, the ocean and Mother Earth. Part of her legacy is healthier and happier children. Christina Martell was, truly, a lady. It is a privilege to have been her friend.The International Friendship Club is a registered charitable organization in Mexico, listed as Club Internacional de la Amistad de Puerto Vallarta AC. The majority of IFC members are English-speaking residents and visitors who volunteer their time, homes or money to help kids around the Bay of Banderas. The clubhouse is located at the northeast corner of the Rio Cuale Bridge above the HSBC Bank, Colonia El Centro, Puerto Vallarta. Phone: 322-222-5466. Website: ifcvallarta.com Email: ifcvallarta(at)gmail.com