The authorities discourage beggars in the streets in Puerto Vallarta as census has indicated that many Norte Americanos are troubled by the sight of beggars and feel compelled to either shun or give to them. The sight of a young or older mother holding an obviously ill child and waving a slip of paper, which is in fact a prescription which she has no money for, is a far cry from a guy in front of the liquor store back home strumming a guitar. Certainly when juxtaposed, the prescription money is the sure winner.
The moving of the bus depot far out of town, indeed a kilometer further than the airport entrance, has alleviated the problem of having to ‘deal’ with many transients who arrive in town and knowing nobody, is forced to beg for a few pesos to get a meal and subsequent bus fare possibly. Just as back home, you have to ask how needy is this person or is this a lifestyle. Your heart and your flinch factor will have to be your guide.
There are over ninety million people in Mexico and of course the majority are living in what we would call severe poverty. It is obvious you can’t help everyone and take some solace that the very fact that you chose Mexico as your vacation is a help to the population as a whole. If you do however feel a need to lend a helping hand, and it’s hard not feel that way in the face of so many people who have genuine need of a helping hand, then consider the most deserving of all, that of the orphan children. Fortunately, the family bond is so strong in Mexico that abandonment is almost unheard of. Accident and other factors however do leave the least able to fend in need.
I’m happy to say that a fellow Hotelier who founded the Tropicana Hotel in 1948 and expanded his empire to dominate a goodly portion of the famous Los Muertos Beach area of Puerto Vallarta, founded the CASA HOGAR Maximo Cornejo Quiroz, A.C. Ailing himself, and finally succumbing to his medical problems, his memory will live on in his generous gift in August of 1993. Some of the children have come by way of local safety authorities. Others are channeled through the D.I.F social services arm of Government. Some come from the parents themselves looking after the welfare of their children and requesting assistance of CASA HOGAR until they can resolve the critical home situations that keep them from properly caring for their children.
CASA HOGAR is a non-profit organization. The Board of Directors A.C. (association civil) promotes different activities to assure that the basic needs of CASA HOGAR are met. Monetary funding comes primarily from private foundations of both Mexican and foreign people who have seen the need and who have taken an interest in supplying that need. Many of the hotels and tourist restaurants donate food and other basic necessities. The goal of the association is to promote the integral development of the child and make him/her a productive member of society despite their situation.
The following aspects are addressed: nutrition, health, psychological needs, religious teachings, basic education, and physical education. They publish a pamphlet listing ways people can help. Here are some: Monetary donations-cash or cheque payable to CASA HOGAR Maximo Conejo Quiroz, A.C. They are located ironically just beside the new bus station. Other ways are a visit to talk and spend some time with these children or teach them a few words of English, play or invite them on excursions. Items that are constantly sought after are: Children’s’ clothing, personal hygiene items, furniture, foodstuffs, medicine, toys. Please, no expired items or those needing batteries or requiring assembly or repair.
Another orphanage which didn’t until recently enjoy the popularity of CASA HOGAR is El Refujio Infantil de Esperanza (more details on all charities can be found at this URL. (http://banderasnews.com/vallarta-living/community-charities.htm).
I personally am involved with the Puerto Vallarta Navy League (www.vallartanavyleague.org) The navy League offers help in the transportation of donated supplies and equipment from the USA to Puerto Vallarta via the US Navy’s “Hand Clasp” Program. In addition, crew members donate part of their shore leave to paint and do maintenance on schools, orphanages and rehabilitation centers in Puerto Vallarta. Contact Peter Gray 221-5285; Jerry Lafferty 221-6156 or yours truly. I’m the first vice president. Our Toy’s for Tot’s program has grown incredibly and if you are coming down around Xmas bring some used toys to add to our 10 thousand which we distribute on the day of the Kings (Jan. 6th) We can use volunteers to help distribute as well. Remember it’s for the “sonrisa de los niños”.