We’ve been supporting a group of high-risk children in the area of Cancun with daily nutritious meals in order for them to strengthen their immune systems, decrease the likelihood of stunting, and promote healthy brain development to excel in school, move onto higher education and ultimately generate greater economic opportunities than their parents had access to.
On our Diamond Retreat we decided to co-create a service outreach with our young friends in reforesting and improving a local park. We chose a park because of the correlation having nice parks has in decreasing crime in urban cities. We chose to reforest the grounds as a means of investing in the environment and help make them more mindful environmental ambassadors.
We enjoyed seeing the children in their element. We facilitated a fun rally where they were able to learn basic environmental trivia and the importance of trees and conservation. It may have been typical for a group to merely pay them a visit at their location where they receive their meals and hear stories about the challenges they face. Several of these children are what people call “niños de la llave.” (children of the key). These children attend school with a key hanging from their neck. It’s significance is that when they leave for school and return home, there is no adult present and they care for themselves and sometimes their smaller siblings until their parents return at night.
We decided to involve them in a service and learning activity because we do not focus on their scarcity and all the things they lack. Rather we build activities on what they perceive their greatest strengths to be and what they are most proud of. In this case, among their most valued assets is their determination and enthusiasm to do well in school and be offered a shot at life. By helping them with nutritious meals they are offered the dignity to work hard in school and eventual job market on a more even playing field.
We celebrated three of the children’s birthdays with piñatas at the end of the day. While singing happy birthday RAIN distributors broke out in happy birthday songs in each of their languages. Among them Russian, German, Ukrainian, Hungarian, and Chinese. Later that day we got a notice from the director sho said that when the parents of the children came to pick them up they excitedly told them about the day - and among the most mind-blowing moments, hearing “happy birthday” sang in so many different languages.