by Donna Carey, Puerto Aventuras (February 2013)
Heartwarming and sad at the same time, I have a story that needs to be told.
Do you remember years ago when many people were killed crossing the highway before the bridges were built? There were about 60 casualties in total over the years, and finally the people of the poblado came out and put rocks in the middle of the carreterra and backed up airport-bound traffic almost to Tulum. The other direction was backed up to Playa. The road was blocked for hours. The riot police came in full gear and the politicians gathered trying to decide what to do. It was an angry, sad, yet peaceful and completely firm protest.
That day a young woman had been killed crossing the road on the way home from her job as a maid in Puerto Aventuras. And her distraught family and friends blocked the road in outrage and sadness. The Municipal President promised to build a tope the next morning at 10 a.m. So the people said, "Fine, we will keep the road blocked until 10 a.m."
That night, yes, that very night!!!, the Municipal President, Carlos Joachim, built a tope to slow things down. It was a bold move on his part, as the road is federal jurisdiction and he only had municipal authority. But the people were not going to leave until something was done!
One year and one day earlier, another person had been killed crossing the road. He was the taco cook who worked at the Taco Stand called El Arbolito. Then it was located under the tree where Paparazzi Pizza on the highway is now located. His senseless death at 5 a.m. by an accident with a taxi driver caused a wave of outrage and a petition to the government asking for help–a traffic light, tope, anything to slow down the traffic and the carnage. But lost in the tangled web of governmental responsibilities, the request never received action and time passed, until the maid was killed–one year and one day later.
At that time, many of you signed a petition to the government supporting the people in the poblado and asking for help to cure this dangerous situation. And so when the maid was killed, we all realized that time had passed and nothing had been done in a year. There was an outpouring of sadness and the recognition that this situation had caused a plethora of orphans–some missing only one parent in a single-parent family and some missing both.
One of these orphans was named Alex. He and his two sisters had lost their mother, a single mother, and were living with relatives in the poblado.
Each month, each orphan received 500 pesos from the fund we set up to help them. The caveat was that they had to be going to school. Fred DeVos, who has worked for many, many years in the poblado with the English Language and Computer Skills Programs, kindly administered the process and we were able to help the children bridge a gap for more than two years with the funds we collected. There were 12 orphans at the time.
Alex struggled as a 10-year-old without parents to guide him. But he continued in school and eventually came to live and work with Luis and Chely. Luis took Alex under his wing like a big brother, giving him a kick in the pants when needed and also providing him with the security of a stable home. Today Alex is a responsible 18-year-old young man who is able to support himself.
And now, here is where the story really gets to the heartwarming part. Before Christmas, I received a call from Marion Howard telling me that Alex now had two orphans living with him and that he needed help to support them as his meager wages, while enough to feed and house the three of them in his little room, were not enough to provide them with what they needed in the way of clothing and other things. It touched my heart. The little boy we helped just a few years ago was now helping others. You don't usually see the results of your actions like this in such a short amount of time.
So I invited them all to Paparazzi Pizza for lunch and to hear their story.
One day, Alex received a call from some people who lived on Xpu Ha beach. It seems as if David and Diego, 7 and 10 years old, were fending for themselves, fishing so they could eat and sleeping under a palapa, because their mother had abandoned them. All they knew was that she left for Veracruz and they hadn't heard anything since. They were guarded and sad but also happy and safe to be with Alex, who now is in the role of big brother under the guidance of Luis and Chely. When the pizzas arrived, their faces lit up with delight.
Fortunately my friend Martha, a world-class psychologist who specializes in addictions and child development, was with us that day and reminded the boys that their mother was not "bad" but sick–sick with the disease of alcoholism. And maybe one day she would return but for now they must learn to live their new life.
I asked the boys if I could have their permission to tell their story. They immediately looked at each other with a closeness that experiences like this bring to two brothers, and together agreed to let me write about them. I told them that while it is very sad for them that their mother left, maybe they will receive blessings in other ways.
And so now I am once again asking the community of Puerto Aventuras to help some orphans. These boys, while not orphans in the classical sense of the word, are orphans for all intents and purposes. The disease of alcohol addiction has taken their mother–a single mother–away.
Speaking with Marion Howard, my good friend and long time resident of Puerto Aventuras, we have come up with a plan for accountability. If you would like, you can drop donations off at Tiramisu and I will hand over the funds to Marion to be administered. Marion will report back to me the usage of the funds and I will keep you informed. We are not a formal organization but operating from our hearts and with a desire to lend a helping hand. This is one of the beauties of living in a close-knit community. You can know the people you are helping. And if you want to meet the boys, let me know.
Another friend of mine recently met David and Diego as they were watching her daughter's tennis lessons through the fence. She said they were amazed to see all the tennis balls on the court!! She was so touched by them–their dignity and innocence–that she offered to pay for tennis lessons for them. The 800 peso cost per month is something she will find a way to work into her household budget. But she said that other friends had said she was crazy … why not just take care of your own children??? Hmmmmm ... that is one way to look at things.
Another is ... Why not give a little that might mean a lot to these little boys??
If you are not in Puerto but would like to donate something, let me know and I can send you my PayPal account address. There may be a light fee to use PayPal, but I will happily cover that as part of my donation.
Whatcha think? Do you have any extra that can help bridge them to a new life? It doesn't take much and together as a community we can make a difference.