What a season for KinderAide! My intentions were to build two shade structures at Jardin de Niños: Luis Pasteur and La Patria (above) as promised, and to continue distributing donated school supplies. I thought perhaps that KinderAide had come to a natural closing state and that I would remain open to whatever the future held.

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New shade structure at Jardin de Niños: Luis Pasteur

However in November, when I was showing Freddie Ruiz Sanchez, my dear family friend and contractor, the above mentioned schools, he asked if he could show me another school in need. That was when I discovered the “Driveway School” and it so touched my heart, that I knew KinderAide and it’s loyal donators would help. In fact, the school was named after KinderAide’s two long term, generous donators: Laurie Higginson from Calgary and Sharon Schmidt from Grande Prairie. I combined their names to come up with the name “Lauron’s.”

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The teeny tiny original make-shift school set up at the very back of a driveway in La Colonia

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The new and improved Jardin de Niños: Lauron’s

Freddie’s brother, Roberto, donated the land, the water and the electricity for Lauron’s. With his generous donation, KinderAide’s cash donations, and under Freddie’s guidance, the school was built in a month! The inauguration was fun with local officials attending, and the teacher had taught each tiny student to say “Thank you Jane.” I cried like a baby.

So… KinderAide was basically out of money and it seemed a good time to call it a day. My friend, Lynn Innes was co-ordinating volunteer teachers and had agreed to take over the bookkeeping from Karen Decker. However, Freddie heard of another school needing help so we visited there, but the school was fine. We asked the teacher there if she knew of a school needing help. She suggested we seek out the school in Piedra Bola, behind Las Rosas in La Peñita.

I didn’t even know the area existed, but with Freddie asking a few questions along the way, we found the school. I was appalled. We promised to return the next day with school supplies and asked the parents to gather for a meeting, to discover who owned this land and what the future plans were. The meeting was well attended. There was an existing town plan for the area, and there was an existing lot for a school. This would be more of a challenge for Freddie and his crew as the land needed to be cleared and water brought in. It was also a challenge for KinderAide as our donations had been depleted with building Jardin de Niños: Lauron’s.

KinderAide Piedra Bola hinge
School door hinge made from a huarache sole and branches

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Existing bathroom

With the help of our Facebook page (Friends of La Peñita KinderAide), I spread the word about the need in Piedra Bola. Pictures always saying a thousand words. Again, friends, neighbours and complete strangers showed their generous hearts… the money flowed in. To my surprise, the Margarita Challenge representatives called and wanted their last donation of $20,000 pesos to go to KinderAide. This gave us the boost we needed!

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Jim Williams (Margarita Challenge organizer), Jane Miller (Fellows) and Esteban Valdivia (owner Piña Colada Restaurant)

Donations continued and three events were arranged where my talented, musical, friends donated their time and together brought in donations of $4,000 pesos, and a good time was had by all at Alicia’s Restaurant on the beach in Rincón de Guayabitos.

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Dean, Hudd, John and Doug. The other band’s name is No Requests, a fabulous blues band.

Slowly, the donations came in, sometimes in the knick of time to pay the workers. But again, together, we made it happen! The children and teachers, the whole community is extremely happy with their new school Jardin de Niños: Marcelo.

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Jardin de Niños: Marcelo complete with tile floors

So here we are in May 2015. KinderAide’s funds are depleted again, but we do have some school supplies for next season. We always need:

  • Blunt nosed scissors;
  • Tiny pencil sharpeners;
  • Plastic pencil cases;
  • 24-pack Crayola crayons;
  • Paper of any kind, and
  • Dollar store stuffed animals for Christmas presents.

KinderAide provides basic school supplies for approximately 300 children throughout each season, and at Christmas our volunteer Santa, Chris Shrowe, visits our schools with donated, wrapped gifts. Next season/winter, Las Tres Amigas, have offered to share their donated school supplies from their School Drive event to KinderAide. We are happy to work together!

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Christmas party

Next season, it is my hope to receive cash donations to enable KinderAide to build a cement apron and shade structure at Marcelo and one at Lauron’s as well. These three projects would cost approximately $65,000 pesos. The state representative from Compostela, Baltazar Urzua, has promised to help these two new schools as well.

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Baltazar Uzura, Jane Fellows (Miller) and Freddy Ruiz Sanchez

Thank you all for your generousity. I have met some wonderful people along the way and made new friends, too. There are far too many people to thank so I won’t even try, but a special thanks to Jaltemba Bay Life and my friends Ally and David for your support of KinderAide and me.

Muchas Gracias Amigos!

by Jane Fellows (Miller)

Kinderaide LogoAbout KinderAide: KinderAide was established in January of 2011 by Jane Fellows (Miller). It is an independent, non-profit group of volunteers whose primary goal is to help children attending kinder schools in La Peñita in their quest to learn English, with the assistance of volunteer teachers and donated school supplies. To learn more or to make a donation, visit the KinderAide community website.