Merry Christmas from Misión México!

Merry Christmas from Misión México! Like many of you around the world, our family has been busy preparing and celebrating the Christmas holidays and New Year festivities! Our home has seen more than 250 kids walk through those big green gates, which is why Christmas is extra special for all of us and a day that we all look forward to!

Throughout the year, our mission is funded through individual supporters, one-off donations, business and fundraising events. The support generated from around the world funds our Education Program, medical and health care, extra-curricular activities, our Youth Transition Program and all our daily necessities like food, electricity and water.

Every Christmas, a group of our older kids, staff and volunteers take part in their own challenging fundraiser which helps fund a specific cause that is needed at that time.  Last year, we raised funds for a new family van which now helps transport the kids to school, their extra-curricular clubs and our family outings!

 

Our kids and teens come from backgrounds of poverty, neglect, abuse and abandonment from all over Mexico and the countries that surround us. They’re some of societies most vulnerable children, which is why this year, our annual fundraiser has two crucial and life-changing focuses.

Our Goals

For 2019, we aim to provide long-term therapeutic and psychological support for those that have experienced imaginable trauma and suffer from anxiety, trust issues and PTSD. We also plan to deliver a number of female and youth empowerment workshops for each one of our kids and teens.

Things like self-defence classes, healthy body image workshops, the importance of consent and respecting boundaries and teen resilience will help to bridge the inequality gap that is often felt within the culture and traditions here in Latin America. It will also help to provide options and raise consciousness for both our girls and our boys when it comes to situations of violence, exploitation, sex and trafficking. All of which sound extreme and serious but are very common threats and issues that our kids face.

What are the statistics?

  • The second leading cause of death for young people around the world (aged 15-29) is suicide, with depression being more common in females than males (5.1% females to 3.6% males).
  • The Child Mind Institute found that globally almost 17 million children have mental-health issues, many of which are never addressed. Our kids and teens face some of the most unimaginable and harsh upbringings with many sufferings from issues like PTSD, anger, trauma and anxiety, all of which is not always obvious from the surface.

Education, job opportunities and the programmes that we provide are amazing for them and allow them to have options as they adult, but psychologically, they don’t always have as many options to recover. Providing them with long-term therapy and support will help them to better understand their experiences, enable conversation and give them the chance to heal.

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  • In Mexico, it’s estimated that 14,000 women are raped every year. That’s 38 women and girls every day.
  • Statistics also suggest that 44% of women in Mexico will face some form of sexual violence in their lifetime, with 91% of these cases going unreported, and of the cases that are reported, not even 8% will end in a conviction.
  • As of 2014, Mexico has the 16th highest rates of homicides committed against women in the world. This rate has been on the rise ever since.

Offering empowerment, raising awareness and enabling conversation with our youth about self-image, equality and rights will help their understandings of their roles in a society that isn’t always fair. Without support, education or knowledge of their rights, our girls’ choices would be limited and their ability to access employment, education and participation in political and public life would be further reduced. The machismo and societal pressures also affect our young boys and men which just adds to the cycle.

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What are we doing?

Over the festive period our first ever ALL FEMALE group of Misión Mexico teenagers, staff and volunteers are joining together to summit Volcano Tacana, Central America’s second biggest peak! At 4,092 meters, the hike takes on average 15 hours and will take over 2 days. It’s going to be a huge challenge for our hikers, but our girls are determined to succeed!

How can you help?

Your donations this year will help fund psychological and therapeutic support as well as female and youth empowerment. Together, the focuses are life-changing, and both approaches will offer our young adults more choices, help our children cope better with their traumas, and help crush the boundaries that they face.

If you are giving from Australia you have the option to take part in Workplace Giving, a simple way to donate direct from your pay, and get your donation matched by your company to double your impact!

If you are giving from the UK and are a UK tax payer, you can opt into the Gift Aid scheme and increase the value of your donation by 25%, at no extra cost to you.

For updates, to follow our family throughout the holidays and for news on the big fundraiser, follow us on;

We’re so grateful and blessed for all of the support and for all that we’ve achieved in the last 18 years. We couldn’t do any of it without you, so THANK YOU! We hope you all have the happiest of holidays and a happy new year!

Love Vanisha and the Mision Mexico family

x

 

Our Global Family – Part Uno

Aside from our gorgeous children and our vision for a better future, the third thing on my list of things I love most about Misión Mexico are our amazing supporters.

Most charities and NGO’s are lucky enough to have global supporters and donors, but I truly believe that Misión Mexico is quite unique when it comes to the loyalty and longevity of our supporters, sponsors and donors. I’ll always refer to these people as ‘Our Global Family’. These are the people based in countries all around the globe who share one thing in common; their dedication, investment and love for our children and their journeys through life at Misión Mexico and beyond.

Our global family is a small but dedicated group of people from all walks of life, whom without, we would not be able to survive. They may not be physically here with us in Tapachula or working with our kids on a day-to-day basis, but they help to ensure that our work and our programs are sustainable. They are a part of our huge, crazy, and complicated family and we wouldn’t be where we are today without them!

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People always ask me if I get tired of constantly worrying about where our next funding stream will come from, or if I feel bad about always asking people for more money, more support, more advocating. Some days the answer to both those questions is yes, yes, I do, but then I remind myself that our supporters want to help because so many are invested in our children as much as I am, and they experience joy and pride when they share in the accomplishments and progression of each one of our children. Be it through knowing they have helped to put fresh fruit and vegetables on the table for 30 kids every day for a month, or they have contributed to one of our girls learning to read and write, or one of our young adults gaining the skills and confidence to step independently into the world and towards their exciting future. They’re a part and a huge reason for all of our small and big successes.
It is no surprise to anyone that our children are the people who motivate and inspire me to do more, raise more and love more, but what a lot of people do not know is that it is often Our Global Family who help to keep me inspired on a weekly basis. The lengths that some of these people go to in order to raise funds and awareness for us and the kids is incredible. Our Global Family are the people who help keep me positive and lift me up when things get tough.
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Introducing our global family…
It’s Jacob & Rachel Shields from Compound who have literally managed to get the entire community of Sarasota to stand behind Mision Mexico, our dreams and our kids. They are two of the most generous and dedicated people I have ever met and we are so blessed to have them so invested in our lives and our work.

It’s superstar businessman Steven Marks, Founder of Guzman y Gomez who throughout his own growth and success, has never forgotten us. His support over the years has built projects, programs and futures for our children and young adults.

It is John Mather who has stood by Pam and Alan for years and always stepped up at the exact moment that we are most in need.

It’s Caroline, Jill and Mara who volunteer their time to make up our Melbourne Fundraising Committee spending hours upon hours planning and running events and advocating for us throughout Melbourne.

It’s the amazing people who have ran 251 km across the Sahara Desert, completed marathons, swam across the ocean, rode a rickshaw across India, rode a push bike through Central America, shaved their heads, climbed volcanoes or simply held social events in aid of our children.

It’s Dom & Melody who returned to Tapachula for 5 months to run the Chido Project using street art as a tool for empowerment and expression whilst filling our kids’ lives with creativity. It’s Dom’s dad, Len who became one of our Education Sponsors and often reminds me to love, accept and support our children’s choices as they navigate into adulthood.

It’s the Fleetwood family who sponsor five our children through their education. And our other 45 Education Sponsors who have each stood by one of our children, funding their education costs for years and believing in their potential and their future. It’s our past volunteers – Winnie, the Owen’s, Michelle, James, Lucy, Woo, Gigi, Sophie, Jesse, Scott, Denise, Mike, Mel, Anne, Alan, Andrew, Anna and Larissa who all instantly stepped up and stood behind our new $1 per day Extra Curricular sponsorship when I asked for help.

It’s our other past volunteers who still contact me years after they have left Tapachula, to pass on happy birthday and Feliz Navidad messages to the kids. Or just check in to see if Jennifer is managing her meltdowns better, or if anyone has managed to beat Sammy at chess, or if Alex is still playing the same songs on repeat in the music room, or if we’ve managed to convince Marli and Cesar that brushing their teeth is a non-negotiable daily action (FYI we STILL play the tooth brushing song and do the timer)!

It’s my own friends and family who never fail to support me in supporting the kids. And my friend’s kids who have given up their own pocket money, or fundraised to pay for cinema tickets, birthday cakes and outing for our MM kids (thank you Isla, Jamie, Beckham, Siena). It’s the small, local businesses across the UK, Australia and USA who stand behind us and our dream to break the cycle of abuse and poverty that our kids were born into. Always donating a percentage of their annual profit, despite the fact that they themselves are struggling to make their way in a world full of large, corporate competition.

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Pam always tells me that it takes a village to raise a child, meaning that it takes an entire community of different people interacting with children in order for children to experience and grow in a safe environment. I don’t think I ever really understood the truth behind that proverb until I became part of our Mision Mexico Global Family and watched the ripple effect of that Global Family growing, and the impact and positive change that it can make. When you have 50 children to raise, you need more than a village, you need a support network that spans the globe and stands strong, through the celebrations, the joy, the tears and the tough times. I will be forever thankful to, and inspired by Our Global Family. They have taught me that small choices can have huge impacts, that a strength of a community which comes together has a force like nothing I have seen before, and that the simple decision to do something for others can change the course of a life.

 

Love always, Melissa Biggerstaff,

Fundraising & Projects Manager at Mision Mexico

 

Join our global family today!

  • Volunteer! We’re currently recruiting for the Summer holidays and onwards. So, if you’re interested, please don’t hesitate to contact us via social media or apply at volunteer@lovelifehope.com! We’d especially love people with skills or talents that can hold workshops and programs over the holidays!
  • You can also donate by clicking this link:   https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/misionmexicouk
  • Or if you’d like to become a sponsor, donate regularly or donate to a specific program then email Melissa at events@lovelifehope.com.
  • Or you can email me about joining our new ambassador program which will help support and raise awareness > support@lovelifehope.com.
  • And the easiest one! You can share this blog and support our social media by clicking these links…
  • https://www.instagram.com/misionmexico/
  • https://twitter.com/mision_mexico
  • https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren

Gracias x

Chido Project (1)

Water is a women’s issue.

Believe it or not, water IS a women’s issue. The physical act of fetching water is part of gender inequality. Sanitation, which is a blessing thanks to water, is also a major challenge for those who have no idea what safe sanitation is. That is why I am walking 70,000 steps over the next 7 days for the organisation Care International UK. It’s my first proper fundraiser and my first week of teaching again in China (eeeek!) so it’s a super busy week for me! Plus, I’m new to the city of Shenzhen so all these steps will involve exciting new places and probably me getting lost a lot. But why am I going on about girls and gender inequality again? Who does it actually affect? And what’s the point?

But what about boys that make that same journey?

Someone asked me the other day, “but what about boys that make that same journey? Why is the focus on girls and women?” and I thought this was a brilliant starting point to explain why. Honestly, not many people have donated to the fundraiser yet, hence why I’m writing this blog. And aside from the fact that Care International are a women and children’s focused charity (due to the *crazy* idea that girls can eradicate poverty), perhaps not everyone understands the connection or importance of women and water. So please, you don’t have to donate or even speak to me again, but for your knowledge and for the future of our daughters, please just read this blog.

On a global scale, having better and safer water options helps women and girls in phenomenal ways, which in turn could see the eradication of global poverty.

Here are 10 facts on why water is a women’s issue…

  1. Safe water options reduce violence against girls and women. Walking at the age of 10 years old, along empty paths and across isolated lands means that girls like Ambie are at risk every day from sexual violence and harm. Issues that boys rarely face, and issues that girls face way too often. And in Ambie’s case, she’s just getting water so that her and her family can see another day…
  2. In addition to this, inadequate sanitation facilities like having actual toilets means that girls (especially those in cultures where shame and insecurity play major factors) will wait until it’s dark to defecate and urinate, which in itself causes three big problems – girls can’t go to school, health issues occur where they’re holding in too much for too long, and nightfall increases their risk (again) to sexual violence and harm.
  3. The lack of sanitation in schools for girls also means that when they reach puberty, they’re physically unable to attend school thanks to the facilities being catered for guys.
  4. School performance and school enrolment increases for girls in areas that have safer and better water access.
  5. Reduction in violence, education and work opportunities for girls mean that they grow to be women who will lift not only their families out of poverty, but their communities too. There is a huge correlation between focusing aid and opportunities on women rather than men to reduce poverty levels.
  6. In countries where water remains a problem, women also bear the majority of the housework. This means that it’s a woman’s duty to still walk 3 hours a day in some of the hottest places of the earth, carrying litres of water, and holding her youngest child whilst being 8 months pregnant. That’s not even an exaggeration. It really does happen. And that’s a woman’s problem.
  7. Contamination and exposure to hygiene related diseases such as sepsis and hepatitis means that periods and pregnancy in general can be extremely dangerous for these millions of women and their babies.
  8. This water that’s collected is not even always safe or clean. These women just have no other option but to give contaminated water to their families. As a result, 500,000 children die every year from dirty water, diarrhoea and many more to cholera.
  9. In Africa, 90% of this burden will be carried by women. Girls under 12 years old will be twice as likely to carry this responsibility than boys under the age of 15 years old.
  10. Unless gender is integrated and implemented in targets like safe water for all, then global goals like poverty eradication by 2030 will never be achieved.

And aside from all of that, shouldn’t water be a basic human right for anyone? How lucky are we to turn on a tap and sit on a toilet, thanks to luck and location. Why do millions not have that same basic human right and we have no limits?

 

And on a personal scale…

  1. I’ve attended two women’s marches in the last year, both organized by Care International. Both were filled with inspirational women from all around the world, with inspiring, life-changing and heart-breaking stories. As an organization, I’ve really grown to love their work and believe in the good that they do for the world.
  2. Nearly 1/2 of the world live in poverty, in situations that we can’t even begin to imagine. I’ve travelled and seen extreme poverty, worked with children who come from difficult backgrounds and met incredible people who might never receive the same opportunities as you and I, just because of the location, circumstance and luck they were born in to. If there’s anything I can do to change this, then I’m gonna try my absolute best, no matter how small. And you can help too!

How can you help?

There are so many things that you can do to help me and them! You can join me! Or straight up donate to my fundraiser! This is the lovely link….

https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/vanisha-sparks

Or if you really can’t spare even £5 (which will turn into £10 when you donate before the 22nd!!) then you can share this story and link around to your friends and family in hope that it’ll reach more people and I can actually hit my very small target for women and girls all over this world who need it so bad, and who could literally change this planets future given the right opportunities and chances.

So, from Monday 16th April – Sunday 22nd April join me in my 70,000 steps in China. The UK government are also DOUBLING all donations made during this time which is incredible so be sure to click gift aid on all of your donations!

Thanks for reading if you got this far! It’s so important for me and for girls like Precious up there! Keep up with my stuff on Instagram and snapchat this week! You da best.

V

x

Research and useful links

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/stories/when-women-no-longer-have-walk-water

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/stories/world-water-day-how-women-farmers-can-overcome-drought

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/search/content/water

https://www.careinternational.org.uk/stories/walk-her-shoes-journey-no-other

http://www.un.org/waterforlifedecade/gender.shtml

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bEtqZoD4V4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6_o_oqEHluw

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=–uWCAOehOo

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jfjEcOp-SeQ

Making a difference made easy.

So, as Christmas gets closer and we’re all in giving mode, I want to shed light on a super important cause and how you could do something different this year at Christmas time.  Not sure what to get your family for Christmas this year? Want to make an impact and do something positive for the world? Let me tell you all about Mision Mexico and how your effort could help…

Who are Mision Mexico?

Pamela and Alan Skuse visited Tapachula, Chiapas in 2000 to help care for 7 children. Passionate about making a difference and wanting to do more, the couple have spent the last 17 years caring for over 250 children.

Thanks to donations and dedicated people like you, Pam and Alan were able to build a home for their new family as well as their recent project in the poorer community of Puerto Chiapas; Mision Surf. Every school lesson, every pair of shoes, every bed, and every single achievement has been made possible thanks to you.

There are so many ways to get involved, and we’d love you to join to help us carry on with our Mexican mission!

“Giving is not just about making a donation. It’s about making a difference” – Kathy Calvin

So, how can you make a difference today?

1. Sponsor our teens big volcano climb!

This Christmas, our teens are climbing Central America’s 2nd largest volcano in order to raise funds for a new van which will help transport all of our children with more ease (and more seats so we’re not all sitting on each other’s laps!). This is our main Christmas fundraising event and one of our most exciting as the kids get involved themselves.

You can start the giving by clicking this link if you’re in Australia… https://misionmexico-gdg-j731n.raisely.com/volcano2017 

Or this link if you’re giving from the UK… https://mydonate.bt.com/events/volcano2017

If you are giving from Australia, you will receive a tax deductible receipt for all donations over $2. If you are giving from the UK and are a UK tax payer, you can opt into the Gift Aid scheme and increase the value of your donation by 25% – at no extra cost to you.

2. Create your own fundraiser!

Fundraising is a fantastic way to help raise large amounts of money from multiple people for a special cause like Mision Mexico. But if you’re unsure about what to do, or where to start, or how you can make your fundraiser as fun as possible, then look no further. This is all about how we can help you to help us!

Below are my fave top 10 ideas for starting your own fundraiser today!

  1. Skydive, white water raft, bungee jump – this is for all the adrenaline junkies out there! Why not go absolutely crazy and tick off your bucket list whilst raising for charity?!
  2. A cake sale. It’s simple, quick and yummy.
  3. Sponsored sports. You could run a marathon, swim the local river or even hold a trampolining event!
  4. For all of them bad habits, and one of the hardest to do in my opinion(!) – give up something you love. Like, alcohol, chocolate, smoking, biting your nails, or you could even give up your voice!
  5. Go carol singing!
  6. Hold an event at your workplace, church or in your community. We recently had an wonderful donation from Tango Embrace’s Day of the Dead Milonga event. Food, dance and a fundraiser all in one event. Amazing!
  7. You could get creative and host a ‘Come dine with me’ night, or even break a world record!
  8. Of course, the hairy ideas made it to my top ten just for comical/bravery reasons. Shave your hair off? Grow your beard out? Have a full body wax? Just throwing it out there guys…
  9. Get ya pets involved. Start dog walking, do a dog jog,
  10. Do a year of good deeds. This one was my favourite and one that I’d never heard of before. You, along with your friends and family can spend a year or as long as you like doing good deeds and sharing them! Feeding the homeless, helping the elderly, reading at the local library, there’s definitely a heap of good to do whilst raising money for something good!

3. Got a talent or skill to share? Get involved!

We accept volunteers all year round but we’re especially looking for people who have special skills or talents and wouldn’t mind sharing them in a workshop for our children. Yoga, surfing, dance, calligraphy, vetting, chefs, footballers, you name it, we want it! Our kids have an array of interests and passions, so we’d love you to come stay with us and help to explore, enhance and expand on their abilities.

 4. Follow, share and donate

Last but not least, you can always donate a one-off or monthly donation by visiting this link… and helping us raise awareness by telling your friends about us, sharing our social media and liking our posts. We heavily rely on you guys for donations, and even more so on our social media for even reaching you guys in the first place! Click this link to make a donation today… http://lovelifehope.com/donate/

See something you like? Got a different idea? Want to get involved? For further enquiries, applications and questions please message us via facebook, instagram, twitter or email at volunteer@lovelifehope.com.

Mision Mexico wouldn’t be where it is today without your suppport and donations. We’re forever grateful to all our past, present and future supporters. Let’s make this a Christmas to remember and start the new year full of love, life and hope. We can’t wait to hear from you all!

Gracias and Feliz Navidad!

Vanisha

X

Instagram: @vanishamay and @misionmexico
Twitter: @misionmexico
Follow us on Facebook too! https://www.facebook.com/MisionMexicoChildren/
http://www.lovelifehope.com