Combination Direct and Halloween Package

Barbara and I joined forces to sent Paola a combination Direct Halloween package. Inside the package was the following:

1 collapsible laundry basket
1 Dark Pink Towel
1 4-hole china tooth brush holder
1 Dora cup and two toothbrushes
1 Mandarin scented soap
1 blond wig for Halloween or dress up
1 pair princess high heeled plastic shoes to go with her princess dress
1 Halloween Count Dracula Bear
1 long sleeved Happy Halloween top with orange sequined pumpkin
1 pair briefs
1 pair white socks with purple trim
1 hankie
1 headband from DR
1 Little Mermaid counting play puzzle
1 Book "Las Tres Erres"

The letter from Paola read as follows:

Dear Barbara and Bernie,

Paola Mendez Atanda is very happy for the things that you sent, the toy heels, the teddy bear, the blouse, the puzzle, the clothes, atcetera.

Paola sends lots of greetings and she thanks you for all the gifts. Paola wants you to know that she is already attending school and she likes a lot all the songs that they teach her. She is already making lots of new friends. The day that she entered school she was very brave because she did not cry when her mother left her there. The Mendez Arandes family sends lots of greetings and they hope you are doing well.

Noemi Enriques (field officer)
Bernie and Barbara.
P.S. My thanks to Barbara for putting this package together. She really has an eye for what the children like and for that I am truly grateful! Bernie

Letter From Paola

Hello Everyone,

Here is a letter sent to Barbara from Paola.

It looks like she is doing well.


Photos are coming ...

I can't wait to see the pictures that go with this letter written after Paola received her "1st Anniversary" package from Barbara. The girls are looking so much prettier in their photos! I imagine that the nice clothes they've been wearing are things that Barbara has sent over the past year.

Dear Barbara Rogers
Paola thanks you very much for all the attentions and love that you have given to her during this year that has changed her life. She really liked the gifts that you sent, the dress fit very well like you can see in the pictures. When Paola saw the pony she was very excited. Rosa and the other two girls also say Hi and they all hope that you are doing well. They wish that God blesses you a lot and that you are doing well of health.
N.E. (field officer)
The Additional Comments were:
"Paola was very excited for the gifts from the sponsor."

Paola is in school!!!!

Here is the latest pics/letter from the Paola front:

Camera shy!

We love to see updated pictures of our kids ... but sometimes these photography sessions don't run smoothly. Many thanks to the CI staffers who hang in there until they get the shot!

Two quick videos of the CC playground

Community Center #4 - Dentist Office

I'm not posting video #3 because it contains nothing of real interest.

This clip shows the very clean and well-equipped dental office at Paola's Community Center!

Jalisco Community Center #2 - Wall Photos and Library

A Package for Paola

Hello Everyone,
Barbara asked me to post this for her
Here is the latest letter from Paola:
Dear Barbara Rogers

Paola..... thanks you a lot for the gifts that you sent, clothes, crayons, books, scholar supplies, personal hygiene items, photos, letter, etc., She is very happy to know that there are people like you, that even though they are so far from her, they love her and look over [after?] her and her family to have a better standard of living.

Paola likes to see your photos a lot and to know different places through your pictures and also your friends and family. Paola and Rosa say hi and they hope God keeps blessing you."

The field officer who wrote the above letter for Paola made an additional comment as follows:- "Paola was very happy for all the gifts and pictures [photos] from the sponsor, she loves to see the pictures and know more about her."

This shows just how much children, including Paola, really enjoy receiving personal photos and postcards from their sponsors. I also think of it being a learning experience for them.

July Visit, Part 23 - Getting Home

Hi, to all Paola's sponsors!

It is now almost the one year anniversary of my visit to see Paola in Guadalajara. I think it's time for me to conclude the story, right? Let's see what I can remember ...

On Wednesday morning, Mike and I got up before the sun rose and trotted across the street to the bus stop. It was raining hard, as we waited for the bus with Aeropuerto written across the front. There was an attractive young woman waiting there as well, under an umbrella. She got fed up and hailed herself a taxi. To us, she said, "Would you like to ride along, since I'm going to the airport, anyway?"

THIS IS NOT A GOOD IDEA! When traveling, you should never accept taxi-sharing offers from strangers, because it could easily be a set-up for robbery or (when attractive young women are involved) seduction followed by a shakedown from a pimp.

Mike and I gratefully joined the girl, because:

a. We obviously had nothing worth stealing.

b. The girl was unlikely to put any backseat moves on Mike with me as a witness.

We had a pleasant and uneventful ride to the airport, then pitched in a little for the cab fare. First, we headed to my Delta departure gate. You may remember that I was flying on stand-by, and I already knew the low likelihood of making it onto the flight. Sure enough, I didn't.

A Delta attendant instructed me to visit the ticketing desk downstairs for a re-issue, but first I escorted my husband to his departure gate for his 7:30 flight. I kissed him good-bye, and promised to meet up with him again some day in the future.

I went to the ticketing gate with the understanding that I must wait until the early morning flight the NEXT day before I stood a chance of getting home. Surprisingly, the employee there instructed me to come back at 2pm, because there was another Delta departure that afternoon, which only operated on Wednesdays. OK, cool.

In the meantime, I took a bus back into the city (the cheap 5 peso bus). The sun had come out and the day was beautiful!!!! I got off by our old hotel, and went inside to warn them (in broken Spanish) that I may be returning to stay another night if the 2pm flight didn't work out.

One thing I hadn't gotten a chance to do was visit a Pizza Hut and take a photo for my collection. My only problem was not knowing the location of the nearest HUT ... but I knew someone who WOULD know. The day before in Wal-Mart, I had gone up to the photo counter and tried to stammer out something in Spanish to indicate that I'd like to purchase an SD card for my digital camera. The kid behind the counter gave me a puzzled look and asked, in perfect English, "Are you saying you would like to buy a memory card?" I headed down the block to the store with hope that this young man would working again, as he was the right age to like Pizza Hut + he could explain to me how to find one.

Soon, I was on a bus holding a piece of paper with my stop jotted down on it. There was the Pizza Hut, right on the corner like the kid said it would be. The restaurant wasn't open yet, but I set my camera's timer and posed in front for a few photos. I also snapped a few through the glass windows because I thought it was funny how they parked the delivery motorcycles between the tables at night. I think that was what made the guard outside the bank next door suspicious. He said something into his radio, and soon a police car cruised into the parking lot. The cop watched me for a few minutes, then shrugged and drove off.

I had more time to kill, so I tried to back to the touristy cathedral area. I got really lost and frustrated, but finally made it there. For what purpose, I'm not sure. Eventually, I walked back to the hotel where they had allowed me to leave my bag. I shared the fresh pineapple I had purchased with the receptionist.

Back to the airport. I got some nice photos of the slums outside the city through the bus window.

The mysterious Delta flight was practically empty, so I had no problem getting a seat. In fact, I had a whole bank of seats to stretch out across! This plane dumped me off in Salt Lake City, Utah. Now, I had to wait and see if I could secure space on the 6pm flight to Seattle. I began chatting with a pilot's wife who was also a stand-by passenger headed for Seattle. She had been waiting ALL DAY, but flight after flight had been too full. It looked like I might be spending the night in Utah instead of the cheaper Mexico!

Lucky for me and my new friend, all of the other stand-by passengers in line ahead of us decided to give up and go home. We both got on the plane!

I arrived in Seattle about 30 minutes ahead of Mike. He had a long layover in Mexico City (yes, I know that doesn't make geographical sense), then he had to change planes again in Los Angeles. At least he was flying First Class!

Since I was already inside SEA-TAC airport and past security, I was able to meet my husband right at his gate. "What took you so long?" I asked. Mike was totally shocked to see me, and so was my father, who thought he was only picking up one person!

All in all, it was a fun and successful trip.

Letter from Paola for her Easter Package

There wasn't enough room in the last post to put the letter that was sent to Barbara for the Easter package. I posted it above.

Easter Package

Barbara has asked me to post the pictures and the letter which were received from Paola for her Easter package.

Included in the package was

1 Dress
1 Skirt
2 pair underwear
1 Short Outfit
1 pair Jeans
1 Swim Suit
1 towel
1 notebook
1 activity book
1 sticker book
1 soap and container
1 Flag of Canada
4 pencils
1 Dora the Explorer toothpaste, hairbrush, and toothbrush
1 nail brush (not sure what this is)
1 wash cloth
4 combs
2 sets Hair Pins
1 Q-Tips
1 plastic bag
Pictures for Paola and Tomasa

According to the Field Officer - Paola, Tomasa and their mother loved all of the things that were sent

Paola's school packages - a preview

Barbara, Bernie, and Mack have each sent Paola a package to celebrate her entrance (hopefully) into school. We'll have to wait until the photos come back from Mexico to see what Bernie sent, but here's a list from Barbara + a photo of the darling school outfit she bought for Paola:

Besides items pictured, Barbara's package also contains:

Barbara's 'Starting school package for Paola" mailed 20th April.

1 small Canada back pack
1 Olympic mascot (Muk-muk) zip-puller
1 Muk-muk stuffed toy
ABC Trace and Learn exercise book
1 White short sleeved blouse
1 Coral/white tartan pleated skirt
1 pair white socks with pink frill
1 pair striped panties
1 pair reversible pink/purple sparkly shorts
1 white peasant blouse with lime green embroidery
2 Dora pony-tail holders
1 Disney mug/toothbrush/paste set
1 Green exercise book
1 page of ABC stickers
1 box of coloured pencils
Dora pencil case with pull zips
3 pencils
1 small paint brush-erasor-scissors,ruler,chalk and green ball point pen
1 bloc of craft paper and craft scissors
1 plastic coat and one pants coat hangers
1 small doll's dress
1 hoop and ball

plus 3 candies and 6 photos.

Mack created 10 coloring sheets that explain (in Spanish) how to prepare for a day at school w/hygeine tips, etc. She bound these into two coloring books - one for Paola and one for Tomasa:

Mack also mailed some Spanish workbooks for beginning learners, along with crayons and a few school supplies. Also, plenty of fun toys to counteract the boredom of education. The stuffed kangaroo is a reminder of one of the animal species Mack and Paola watched together at the Guadalajara Zoo:

Paola's 5th Birthday Package

Our little Paola turned 5 recently, so Barbara, Heather, and I made up a package to help her celebrate. Isn't her hairstyle adorable?

The contents were as follows:

A colouring book
hopping bunny
monkey pen
3 pairs of socks
hand sanitizer
sewing kit
cuddly toy
tic tac toe
Stickers and notebook
letter, birthday card and photos
a Disney Princess doll from Barbara to match her blue Halloween Princess dress.

Additional Comments:

Paola and Tomasa were very happy when they saw all the gifts and they specially enjoyed the candies!!

Dear Donors
Paola and her two siblings are very happy with the gifts, they were very happy when they saw the gifts that you sent. Rosa was very happy when looking at the pictures that you sent, the girls liked knowing your dogs. They liked the candies a lot. Paola liked the doll a lot and they thank you a lot for being such a generous person to them. They would like you to visit them again, they say hi and send many kisses. Written by the CI Field Officer.

Easter Package Update

Hi, all!

The "Edit" button is not working today, so I have to make a separate post to update the one below this:

"Further to the previous posting regarding the Easter package from Bernie and Barbara the thank you letter has since been received. Barbara was a little disappointed that the two sisters did not seem too happy with all the many Easter gifts but, fortunately, the CI staff added the Additional Comments which read. Paola and her sisters immediately showed a happy look when they saw the gifts from the sponsors. They are very thankful for everything they do for them.

The contents were as follows:-

A stuffed pink lamb
A Sesame Street Rain/Shine colouring/sticker book
Blue top with pink/silver butterfly logo
2 piece dark pink shorts/with pink/white top.
Green ribbed tank
Green/brown checked blouse and matching pony tail holder
X-Games white and pink striped T shirt
Yellow jersey dress
Blue/navy and orange cap
For Maria
a pink/fuschia and white top
Plus two Easter tote baskets and Easter accessories
Lavender plastic Easter box, erasor and 8 crayons, 2 pairs panties, Bunny temperature reader, 2 ABC egg containing wrapped chocolates, wind up chick, bendy pick rabbit, orange kaleidescope, stuffed furry duck with green head, kissing Micky and Minnie pens, small brown stuffed bunny, egg kaleidescope. Plus Easter card and several photos.
Yellow exercise book and ABC and Easter stickers.

I was pleased to see from the accompanying letter that our diplomatic hygiene advice iis also being followed!!

Dear Sponsors (Barbara and Bernie)

Paola wants you to know that she loves you a lot and that she thanks you along with her family for everything that you do for her. She thanks you for the gifts that you sent for her, shje liked them a lot, the dress, blouses, baskets, toys, crayons and candies because she likes them a lot as well as Mary and Tomasa. She will remember to brush her teeth after eating them. She liked the Minnie and Mickey Mouse pens. Rosa Mendez says Hi and thanks you for the attentions that you have towards her family. Rosa, Paola and Tomasa hope that God keeps on blessing you. Signed by the CI Field Officer.

Easter Package

Hello Everyone,

Barbara and I sent a direct package to Paola for Easter. I received the following e-mail and the above pictures from Barbara

I have just received two photos of Paola's Easter DP but the two sisters don't seem to be very happy with their gifts for some reason. I thought Paola would love the big cuddly lamb but her little tight lipped smile doesn't show much pleasure. However, I do like her hairstyle!!

At least it is good to know that the parcel arrived safely.



We are waiting on the report on the hygene items we both sent in late March.

Bernie and Barbara

A New Photo and a Recap of Paola's Sponsorship

Post submitted by Barbara:

Remember when, less than a year ago, the touching photo of a 'dirty' ,sad looking little girl called Paola touched the hearts of several people and 13/14? of us decided to sponsor her as a group? Shortly after, we had a quick collection to enable Macky to buy the family several useful items and food items during a very rushed visit which not only provided many interesting photos of their first visit to the zoo but also several photos showing the dreadful living conditions of the family. The photos showed a very dark, fly infested room with a dirt floor, a hole in the roof, no water connection and the worst of all the mother, Rosa, was cooking on an open fire in a hallway with three young children running about. It was immediately decided to do a group fundraiser in order to change the family's living conditions. The most urgent was to provide a safer means of cooking so once the funds were raised the family received a small table, a gas cooker and a gas canister? (the open fire is no longer used because they have an actual mini stove!)

Then, an inquiry regarding what could be done about getting the two eldest girls, Paola and her elder sister, Tomasa enrolled in school eventually led to two very generous donations, by anonymous sponsors also touched by the family's poor living conditions. More luck continued when the Mexican Government decided to provide cement floors to the small compound where Paola lives. At the same time repairs were made to the roof, a toilet and water connection was made, and a dangerous well was fenced off with a retaining wall.

Then, just before Christmas another small group fund-raiser was made to provide the family with a wardrobe in which to keep their clothes instead of being kept in boxes on the floor.

The latest photos that were posted on March 11 and can be seen here, show the new wardrobe and the socks, shoes, and flip flops bought with the remaining fund raising amount. There was also enough to start proceedings to get the children enrolled in school and provide the necessary documentation.

Soon, the two sisters will start a new adventure, that is begin school for the first time. Since Rosa is illiterate and may not have been taught any personal hygiene the children are often filthy with uncombed hair and unwashed faces. So, in order to prepare them for their new school experience four of us are doing what we can to get them ready so as not to be embarrassed when they embark on their new school life. Barbara is making up a 'preparing for school' package for practising their ABC's, exercise books and hygiene items like brushes for hair, teeth and nails, a wash cloth and towel, etc., Bernie is looking for some ABC books in Spanish and other school supplies; Mack is putting together a cartoon type 'hygiene for pre-schoolers which will be translated into Spanish by Heather. Hopefully, these items will encourage Rosa to teach her children some necessary hygiene tips so that they won't be embarrassed by other children.This will also give Paola some preschool experience so that she would be less behind than other kids who may have attended nursery or kindergarten.

So, you can see that our group has been kept busy but it is so rewarding to have been able to help this worthy family in such a short time. And, you can be sure that more will follow in due course!!

After all of this good fortune, and in less than one year's time, their family income has gone from $95 a month to $291! Wow!!

Visit, July 2009 – Tuesday Touring

Whenever I visit Mexico, I always seem to find myself at a Sandra Bullock movie. This trip was no exception.

Mike and I weren't sure what to do with ourselves on Tuesday. I had planned to go clothes shopping for Paola (after having a chance to eyeball her size), but after learning that the CI office was not accessible to drop off the packages, that idea had to be nixed.

We decided to kill the day on one of those hop-on-hop-off bus tours, which we were able to catch near the Cathedral. After examining the brochure, I saw that they offered both a Red Line and a Blue Line tour, and I was only interested in taking the longer "red" one. As Mike and I purchased our passes, we were issued red wrist bands. "Good," I thought, "we were automatically assigned to the Red tour." People were loading themselves onto a waiting bus, so we followed suite, finding seats on the open upper deck. As the tour commenced, I tried to follow along with the map in the brochure as my guide. I was confused and lost … but all became clear once I realized that we were on the BLUE tour. Whoops. The color of everybody's wrist bands was just a coincidence – the random color of the day.

After a bored and restless two hours on the Blue Line, we looped back around to the Cathedral where we were able to switch to the Red. There was a certain stop I wanted to get off at, because I knew that some geocaches were located in that area. Unfortunately, the place (Sunshine Plaza, I think it was) didn't come until near the end of the tour.

Midway through the tour, the bus stopped and the driver told us he would be taking a 15 minute break before we continued. Mike and I ducked into a mini-grocery store to buy drinks … and that is where my husband saw the sunglasses rack from Hell.
It was bright outside, so Mike wanted to shade his eyes. So, in typical obsessive-compulsive fashion, he began trying on different pairs of glasses. When he finally settled on which he liked best, he started to fret over the price and couldn't decide if the shades were really worth the investment. Of course, by the time we left the store (with the glasses) our bus was long gone.

Rather than wait 45 minutes for the next one, Mike and I walked a few blocks down to a shopping mall with a movie theater inside. The next feature showing in English happened to be "The Proposal" … starring Sandra Bullock … again. It actually wasn't so bad, as far as romantic comedies go. The theater was pretty dark, though, and Mike's sunglasses weren't all that necessary.

Eventually, we got back onto the tour bus and found both the geocaches. We also took a bunch of photos with Stanley, my traveling stuffed monkey – including one outside of the Guadalajara Zoo. I didn't want to bring him out in front of Paola and her sisters, because it's not nice to play with toys in front of children unless you're willing to give them the toys to keep.

In the continuing saga of Mike's sunglasses …

First, he forgot that he even had them.

When he found them in his backpack, one of the lenses had popped out.

As soon as he got the lens re-affixed, the sun vanished and it began to rain.

Finally, the glasses fell from where he'd hooked them to his belt, and were never seen again.

After the bus tour finished, we proceeded to … to … I don't know. That's the problem with writing blog posts eight months after the actual event - I forget stuff.

The Tour Bus

"La Propuesta"

Stanley at the Zoo

Storm Sets in Over the 'Other' Cathedral

Still MORE photos of 2009/10 improvements!

More photos of 2009/10 improvements

More Improvements to Paola's home!!!

Our Google Group child, Paola is so loved by all!! Last year, we wanted to set her mother up with a business to bring more income into the home. However, it was determined that a business would not be a good idea because the mother has no schooling. She doesn't know basic math nor how to read and write. Hopefully, there is a program she can get into to learn how to do those basic things at the center. For now, we had to come up with a different way to help. When CI came back with a long list of things that needed to be fixed in the family's home, our group went right to work! The family received a well for clean water, a toilet, a sink, and a new roof! Here is what the field officer wrote on their behalf.

Dear Donor,

Paola is very happy for all that you have done for her and for her family: the well, toilet, washing place, roof. All of that will improve their quality of life greatly. Paola, Tomasa, Mary, and Ms. Rosa thank you for all of the love and attention that you give them. They are happy to know that their are people who worry about those who have less, and that they do something to help them. They say hi and hope that you are fine. May God keep blessing you.

Paola's 5th birthday gifts from Barb!

'Dear B.Rogers

Paola wants to thank you for all the gifts that you sent for her. The singing heart, bracelet, candies, bag, Dora lunch box, clothes, pictures, birthday card and everything else.

Paola likes it a lot when you send photos, she likes to know more about you, your friends and family. She also hopes that you like the photos of her which CI takes. Paola likes the paper crown a lot! She coloured the drawing on this letter with lots of affection. Paola sends you lots of kisses and hugs and again would like you to know that she loves you a lot.

The additional comments were. 'Paola and her family were very happy for the gifts the sponsor sent for them.'

Maria seems to be the happiest!

Here is the actual list of contents sent for Paola's birthday.

- 1 two piece jeans & pink/white/navy top.
- Lavendar coloured top with purple hearts
- 2 piece white blouse and pink/orage checked pinafore dress
- Multi-coloured hearts/stars tank top
- Turquoise and pale blue jacket and pleated skirt
- 1 pair of white socks and 1 pairs of dark fairy socks.
- 1 - striped underwear
- 'Just Like Home' toy cooking set.
- 1 Singing Heart
- Dora purse
- little bracelet for Maria
- Dora lunch box
- My little pony book colour book and glitter stickers

And out of all of the above gifts what did Paola like best? - the paper crown from a Xmas cracker!! Aren't kids funny?