Clean Water & Shoes Bring Smiles from Jose’s Family–March 25, 2011


April and I pulled up to visit Jose’s family earlier this week and all the kids came running to greet us. When they peered in the car you could hear a chorus squealing “Ellas nos trajeron agua y zapatos tambien!” Translation: “They brought us water and also shoes!”

Volunteers take water to Jose's

Volunteers take water to Jose's

Jose, a 16 year old child with various disabilities, lives with his extended family in very modest living conditions on the Transversal (cross island) road. Click here and scroll to the bottom of the page to read more about Jose and his family. They have no running water. Water from their well has sediment. The well is frequently dry if it hasn’t rained. Collecting rain water in barrels helps but it doesn’t meet the family’s needs so they have learned to cope . . . coping seems to be a way of life here. We knew the family had a well but didn’t understand the magnitude of their water problem until we used a significant amount of water for a cleaning project in their home during our recent Mission Trip. Now volunteers take buckets of clean water when we visit.

Last weekend the water pump in our home caught fire and “died”. Something is ALWAYS breaking! I had been watering the plants in the garden and doing laundry before the fire incident so had no idea how much water was left in the roof tank. I lamented the fact this happened during a three-day holiday weekend so who knew when a new pump could be acquired and installed? I immediately started rationing water . . . no washing dishes or clothes, cleaning or working in the garden (good excuse to do other things); limited toilet flushing (OK); no showers or limited to 30 seconds (not so good). Then it hit me . . . the uses of water I was rationing for a couple of days were all “luxuries” compared to the ongoing water shortage Jose’s family faces. They don’t have the luxury of filling a sink full of water to wash dishes and another to rinse. They don’t have an automatic washing machine that fills with water to wash their clothes. There is no hose to water plants or a toilet to flush or a shower . . . pretty humbling when you stop to think about it. We take basic needs like having clean water for granted.

Another Friends of Cozumel volunteer, Cindy Trautwein, and I visited Jose’s family a week earlier to take “despensas” (food supplies). We noticed Jose’s grandmother, Antonia, sitting with her bare feet on top of a pair of broken shoes. When asked, she admitted not having any shoes she could wear. I questioned her about shoes for the 13 children in the extended family ages 4-16. The kids who don’t attend school all needed shoes for everyday playwear. The others take off their school shoes as soon as they get home and go barefoot so the shoes will last until summer vacation begins in early July. The last shoes the children received were their school shoes in August . . . clearly it was time for a shoe distribution.

Shoes bring smiles from Jose's family

Shoes bring smiles from Jose's family

We were able to fit all the kids, mothers and grandmother in Jose’s family with sandals, crocs or shoes THANKS to recent donations from the Fulton family, the Tharalson family, Cindy and daughter Koda, as well as Friends of Cozumel mission volunteers.

How many children do you know that would be excited about having a few buckets of clean water for bathing and washing clothes? Or the possibility of getting a pair of used or new shoes or flip flops? One of the things I love about doing volunteer work here in Cozumel, is that Mexican children and families are so appreciative. The families we help through Friends of Cozumel have few material goods. Yet they always seem to be happy and content with what they DO have. It’s so refreshing to work with people who don’t have a sense of entitlement. ~Karen

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