by Barb Eller (June 2012)
I would like to introduce you to two very good friends of Patrick's and mine. We liked them right from the start, but not until we really got to know them did we realize how special they are.
Meet Laurie and Kelly. They are from Canada; to be specific they are from Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Canada. Nope, I am not even going to try to pronounce it for you, but I will tell you it is from the Cree Indians and means "Hills of Peace." Isn't that beautiful? And once you get to know Laurie and Kelly, you will realize that it is the perfect place for them.
Two of Kelly's co-workers told him they were building a house in Mahahual, what a beautiful town it is and about the wonderful people who lived there. So Kelly and Laurie came down to visit, fell in love with the town and the people, and decided to buy a house on the beach. I realize that many of my stories about how people hear about Mahahual and end up living here are beginning to sound the same, but this is the way it really happened.
Laurie and Kelly arrived for the winter in October, a couple weeks after us. They drove down in a caravan of other Canadians. It didn't take long for everyone in our little community to find out that everyone was welcome at Laurie & Kelly's home. Any time day or night, you will always be greeted with a smile. Back in Canada Kelly is semi-retired and Laurie is a mediator. They have two beautiful daughters who have come down for a couple of visits during their school breaks.
Our new neighbors love to play games and Patrick and I have spent many evenings playing games with them. As we spent more time with them, we began hearing about their life in Canada. They have been sweethearts since school days and feel as if they have been very blessed throughout their life together. Now they felt they had reached a point in their lives that they needed to give back. Sure Kelly could have written a check then gone off fishing, but they wanted to give of themselves and of their time. Laurie and Kelly looked around Mahahual and other towns to see what was needed. They saw that many children needed clothes but there was no one to distribute what had been collected. Next thing I knew Laurie was in the garage sorting through bags of clothing, separating them into sizes for boys and girls. Then Kelly loaded them into the back of the truck to take into town.
The plan was to distribute clothes once a month. So far they have taken clothing to Km-55 (in Mahahual), Limones, Punta Pulticub (north of Uvero), and Chacchoben. As you can see from the pictures, the boys and girls are so happy to receive a new shirt, blouse, shorts or shoes. Laurie and Kelly say there are no words for the smiles and hugs that they are given by the children.
I have to share with you a story about their trip to Chacchoben. All of the clothes had been passed out and the suitcase containing them was closed. A small 3-year-old boy came up to Laurie and said, "Nada para mi? Nada para mi?" (Nothing for me? Nothing for me?) Laurie said, "I'm sorry, we have no more." Looking at the little, sad face she decided to look in the suitcase once more. She found an outfit of a shirt and shorts. She held them up to see if it was the right size—YES! He hugged the clothes close to his chest and said thank you and gave the biggest smile. Laurie has many stories like this which always brings tears to her eyes and makes each trip worthwhile.
The clothes are brought here by visitors from the cruise ships, the many people who drive down, and vacationers. Visitors come down to help distribute clothes, and then get caught up in the desire to do more. So they go home and get friends to help collect clothes. Kelly and Laurie are looking for a collection site around the Playa del Carmen or Tulum area. They hope to have a place large enough to separate the clothing into bins for storage until the next distribution. As they begin to collect more items, they plan on expanding to other small villages. At this time they are concentrating on clothing for children; other groups distribute toys and school supplies.
If you are interested in donating something, here is a list of items that are most appreciated:
Clothing for boys and girls sizes 0–16 years, modest and gently used. And remember the children here are smaller than in Canada and the States.
Shirts–long & short sleeve, jeans, shorts, blouses, skirts, dresses, sweaters, dressy clothes, T-shirts with sport logos, sweatshirts, light coats/jackets, baseball caps, bandanas, and sandals
The girls love headbands and things for their hair and don't forget the costume jewelry. Towels are a big hit too, but no bedding please. Baby clothes, bibs, bottles, blankets, sleepers, and baby caps
As I said at the beginning, Laurie and Kelly are two very special people. Once you meet them you find their enthusiasm for life and helping others is contagious. And that's not a bad thing.
The next time you are driving through a small village and see a truck surrounded by a hundred children with big smiles holding new clothes, look for Laurie and Kelly; they will be the ones with bigger smiles and a tear in their eye.
Laurie and Kelly may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Until next time ...