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Yesterday, we left Mexico City and headed for the town of Ixmiquilpan, a couple hours north of Mexico City.
I had never heard of this place before, and it only has a paragraph devoted to it in lonely planet. The reason we were heading there? For the last couple of years I have been sponsoring a child through Child Fund, and she lives 20 miles outside of Ixmiquilpan. Since signing up I have been hoping to visit and my chance had arrived.
We arrived in Ixmiquilpan without any problems, although we had a bit of trouble finding the hotel that we had been recommended. I asked for help, and the people were so friendly. The lady we asked took us to someone who spoke English to help us. It seems to be a common theme round here as people are super friendly. It’s like being back in Guatemala.
The hotel turned out to be great, one of our best and about the cheapest we’ve had in Mexico. It is located right in the main square. We took the rest of the day pretty easy except for me running up my parent’s phone bill with a reverse charge call for my birthday.
Visiting my sponsor child and my birthday
Today has been an absolutely amazing day. It started with my dream birthday present of a Spanish Ricky Martin CD. Then we were picked up an hour early by our interpreter and driver for the day. Lucky we were ready. The whole experience in San Andreas where my sponsor child lives was totally overwhelming, humbling and made me feel quite guilty and angry as well – angry at myself and other people back home, not these lovely people, for doing so little. I have never experienced anything like it.
The morning started with a hall full of people clapping for me in appreciation as i walked in. They were all so happy to see me and thankful for the money I give. This is where the guilt started setting in as it really is only loose change to me. For the millionth time this trip, I promised myself to donate more money when i get home.
They showed us a presentation and asked us some questions and we asked them some. The language barrier was quite frustrating as, even though the translator was good, I wanted to be able to say more things for myself, especially with the great hospitality we were shown.
The presentation was about what the organisation does in this area. It was very inspiring. All the programs are about making people self sufficient and the money you donate does not just go to the child but the family and the entire community. They have 289 children who have sponsors there (or godparents as they call us) and another hundred who need them. Since 1994 when the organisation was started here by local families, they have managed to achieve things like close to 100% literacy rates, far better nutrition in the people and water for all (there wasn’t enough water for everyone back then). It is a very dry area with hardly any water so you can see why people struggle. They went out of their way to show how helpful the programs they run are and what a difference our money makes. They wanted to make sure we understood that the money does reach them and that it has enormous benefits.
We visited a community center they had built and saw some parenting classes in progress. They also teach cooking and nutrition to the parents. We tried some of the food too which was very good. We also visited the secondary school and talked to a class and visited a honey factory which they make honey from a type of cactus.
We had discussions with my sponsor child (Anabel, a thirteen year old) and her family and saw many photos and shared stories.
This whole time we kept getting applause and messages of thanks and were followed around by people taking photos like we were celebrities, which I guess to these people we were. We are the first sponsors who have visited. We had some presents for Anabel and her family – lollies, jewellery and some stuff from Australia including some great t shirts, caps and toys that mum sent over (we were unable to carry them for so long) which were much appreciated.
In short, it was a totally amazing experience which I hope will be life changing. You hear the ads at home about how one dollar a day can make a difference and it seriously can. I seriously urge everyone to sign up to one of these organisations, as you really do make a difference. It is so easy to do and you get regular photos, letters and updates. I can highly recommend Child Fund as I know what a difference it makes. I believe they have branches in many other countries too. This is sure to be one birthday I will never forget.
The next day, we travelled on to Guanajuato.
Bus Mexico – Ixmiquilpan 2.5 hours 80 pesos, Hotel Palacio Real very good 180 pesos.