Last year we discovered the El Peten neighborhood, north and west of Playa del Carmen through a friend who had lived in the area and knew a few familes in need. We visited several, had them fill out applications and told them we would meet them in the local park the following week. We also asked them to invite others to make application to KKIS. The first week there were 10 new applicants, the following week there were 20, and 30 more the next week. We managed to help 68 kids in this neighborhood last year and were left with 41 pending applications when we ran out of money. So this year we decided to begin with them.
About 1/3 of those people could not be reached at the telephone numbers they had left last year, so we packed the others, loaded a volunteer’s SUV and went to the park. The joy that met us was worth every drop of sweat I had shed preparing for that day. Mothers arrived on foot, by bicycle or taxi with their children in tow. It was a very hot day and a man on a 3-wheeled bike selling water ices arrived and began passing cool cups to each of the volunteers. I throughly enjoyed my tamarindo drink and went to thank the vendor. He told me that this was the family business, that the weather had not favored him of late (too much rain), and that he was honored to treat us as thanks for the help we had given his children. And he returned the next day also.
Marilou sat on the curb, while ants bit her ankles, accepting pay stubs that proved family income and helping mothers fill out new applications that we would fulfill in two weeks. None of this was rocket science – we had no idea how many people needed help, but kept adjusting our budget figures so that all the neighborhoods we had choosen could be served.