We had the opportunity to go on a humanitarian service trip with my kids school Knox Academy. Yes, my kids are homeschooled, Knox is a project based private school where my kids attend 2x week. They also offer incredible after school classes that are open to the public (lego robotics, Chinese, choir, swing dance, theater...)
Every year, some kids from the school go to Mexico on a humanitarian trip. The students put on a makers marketplace before Christmas to sell handmade goods to raise money for the service projects. The works these kids put in was pretty incredible.
I ended up sharing our experience on my personal instagram and had so many people DM me about details, so I thought I would share our experience as well and pass along other sources for service in the area (below).
Our first day in Mexico was a free beach day before our service projects began. The weather was beautiful for February. The kids played and I was able to check something off my life long bucket list. Horseback riding on the beach! It was so romantic and all, but I really just wanted to go fast. So after a few failed attempts at getting the horse to lope and one incident of my horse running toward the freeway (I swear I know how to ride). I asked one of the locals to help me out. He hopped on back and off we went, galloping down the beach. I don't know why I struggle with loping. I love going fast but I'm terrified of it too. Well I convinced my friend Molly to let her guide hop on back so she could try going fast. Little did we know (since we don't speak Spanish), that our guides decided to race each other! We were FLYING down he beach! I was just holding on for dear life and having the time of my life while I was at it. This experience exceeded all expectations. $10 for 30 minutes of bum breaking fun. Sign me up!
We found the best taco stand in Primo Tapia. It has no name, but if you can find it. It's worth a trip. Take Primo Tapia exit, head under overpass and drive south. It's on the left side of the street and there is an empty field next to it. If you get to the Primo Tapia sign at the corner you've gone too far.
Tacos el pastor (pork tacos) were amazing. Also, for you adventurous souls, the cow tongue taco was very tender. I don't know that I would dare order it, I just had a bite of our friends but was surprised how good it was.
Everything was so fresh and good. Just don't drink the water and you'll be fine.
Also, the bakery across the street was amazing. These cookie covered rolls fresh out of the oven were hands down the best thing in Mexico (after the tacos of course, because tacos). If you can find a fresh one, get it!
There were stray dogs EVERYWHERE, no cats, just dogs. But they were all super friendly. Luckily we didn't bring home any fleas!
For our service project, we were planning to help a small village about an hour away from where we were staying. But right before we left there was a flood and the road to the city was a waist deep river. Luckily we had a local there that was helping with the project so she was able to find another project withing 24hrs. So we moved our free day from Sunday to the first day and we hit the ground running on our new project.
There was a Jr High in La Mision that had been forgotten. It was run down and they had a shell of a building for a computer lab had run out of government funding and it was just sitting there unfinished. We came in, walked around, saw what needed to be done, went for supplies and got to work. We started by cleaning all the classrooms, everything was very dirty. We weeded the yard and build soccer poles, painted, built book shelves, build stairs to the computer lab, and planted succulents.
Before photos of classroom
On the last day, the kids came back to school and we had a little fiesta. They taught us dances, we ate hotdogs, and played soccer. Then we had the opportunity to give the girls a Days For Girls presentation and handed out kits to each of them. You would have thought it was Christmas they were so excited. Many of the girls don't have access to disposable feminine products and either miss school or use unsanitary means to take care of themselves. Most just end up dropping out of school because they miss so many days.
This is the computer lab before. It was just full of garbage.
We built a wall and beautiful desks that they can use for future computers. The room on the other side of the wall will be sure for when counselors visit the school and help the students.
The kids took on a project to build stairs to the computer lab out of old tires they found.
This was our beautiful air bnb on a private beach.
Fire on the beach on our last night.
The locals know whats up. I would ride a horse to the grocery store every single day if I could.
Our last meal, more tacos de pastor.
And a little souvenir for our home.
Back to the boarder was a little scary, very dirty and lots of people living in tents. But we didn't have any problems.
Waiting in line, they had these little carts selling all kinds of stuff.
Churros! I hoped to find some in the city before we left but we couldn't track any down. So when I saw a kid riding his bike through traffic selling them I jumped on it! They were so good! Highly recommend them if you can find some. And no one had any tummy problems from the food.
And this cute guy selling ice cream. Our school group bought out his entire cart!
Here we are in front of the school
And the entire Knox crew! This was such a special experience. We worked so hard to raise money for the projects and then to be there to help serve this community and put those funds towards the benefit of such deserving people was truly humbling and inspiring. They were so grateful. They said they knew God doesn't make mistakes, and that our original plans falling through was ok because it led us to them. The had felt forgotten for so long. It meant the world to them to just have someone that cared about them.
I would choose this experience over Disney any day. I know my kids will never forget it. If you guys have more info that I can share for other organizations or opportunities, please shoot us an email and I will share it in this post.*And just be aware, Mexico is by no means a "safe" place to visit. The locals said to treat it like you are in down town L.A. Keep your kids close, don't break the law and don't go out at night. We honestly felt completely safe and had no negative experiences. Someone in our group got pulled over for making an illegal U-turn (accidentally) the cops were very kind and let him go with a warning but we have heard of others that got pulled over, had to drain their account to pay the cops and then were left for dead by the side of the road. It happens you guys! And lets not forget about the drug cartel. There are always stories about things like this. But I truly believe that most people are good and we were luck enough to meet many of those amazingly good people when we visited.
What others recommended from social media:
A childs Hope foundations
Contacting an orphanage directly to see how your family can help