S-Trip! Destination: Isla Cozumel, Cozumel, Mexico
During the week of July 4, 2016, on the tropical island of Cozumel, Mexico, grad trip students from across Canada enhanced their #TripofaLifetime by gaining eye-opening insight into the lives of the future of the community. The team of S-Trip! travelers visited Centro de Atencion Multiple (CAM), a school dedicated to the needs of impoverished children with mental, physical, and/or behavioural disabilities. CAM provides a holistic approach to learning by helping children and their parents set realistic goals for their learning capabilities, providing physical therapy, a social worker and psychologist to work with the children and their parents.
Over the course of three visits, grad trip students painted the exterior walls, completed some landscaping upgrades and worked alongside electricians who implemented a new electrical system. While our travelers worked away outside, CAM students peeked curiously from the windows and doors of their classrooms, eager to meet their visitors. Our S-Trip! travelers were just as eager to have time to get to know these local children!
Letty Pola, one of the school directors, spoke to our travelers about the issues facing the school, especially the deficit in supplies and the struggle to find educators due to the scarcity of funding for the school. Learning about the needs of the school and hearing the students' powerful stories definitely touched the hearts of the volunteers. Although Letty is optimistic about the future, seeing first-hand the struggle of a community was not easy for the travelers to take in.
The power of action proved that the language barrier was not an issue as the CAM students developed strong bonds with our travelers, and everyone was glowing with happiness. On the last day, we did an extra special 'fun fair' for the children of the CAM school, who flaunted their bracelets and freshly painted faces to their teachers, friends, and families. The positive energy was undeniable as everyone involved in the volunteer sessions shared in some final moments together, enjoying the visible accomplishments of our travelers, as well as the intangible benefits created by their precious time together.
Written by Kenny Paguaga, the on-site Volunteer Coordinator for Cozumel.