Story by Ina Timmer
When Dave first mentioned driving down the Baja to Cabo San Lucas over twenty years ago, I wasn’t too sure about it. He wasn’t proposing a Sunday afternoon drive but a 2,000 mile journey in our little Honda Civic. Having fallen in love with Cabo while working there in resort development, Dave wanted to share it with me. The once small fishing village had grown to become a tourist hot spot, a destination not to be missed. He promised me a thousand miles of beaches with sand and surf and sunshine. It sounded fabulous so I said ‘Let’s go!’
Such was my introduction to the Baja and Cabo San Lucas. Many of you know "Cabo", a twenty-mile stretch of sand and surf with luxurious hotels, fabulous weather and friendly people. We thought to stay for a few weeks and ended up staying over a year. We managed and eventually sold a small resort on the hillside, overlooking the marina and made many friends with whom we still stay in touch today.
Through managing the resort, I became familiar with the people who actually called Cabo home, the gardener, the handyman, the girls who cleaned the rooms (see Benny’s story). We talked about where they lived and their stories and their families. I became a part of the community, the bank, and the local grocery, befriending the vendor on the street corner, the shopkeepers, the accountant and the notary as well as the neighbours, in particular the architect, John, who lived right at the resort gate.
As part of the resort industry, what wasn’t apparent was the “other” side of Cabo. Ten or so blocks from town, the roads became dusty, there were no luxurious hotels or multi million dollar homes. Ten blocks from town, the majority of the hotel and construction workers lived in small concrete houses - and they were the fortunate ones. Further back in the hills were long stretches of families living under tarps with no facilities at all, no running water, toilets, or cooking appliances, no solid roof over their heads, and certainly no access to medical clinics or doctors. Their low wages didn’t stretch beyond the absolute basics.
Our neighbour John had lived in Cabo for many years and was part of an organization called Amigos de los Niños or “Friends of the Children”. He insisted that I needed to come to a meeting to hear about the social issues facing the local people. And so I did.
Here is the history of this great group of people as told on their website:
“Non-profit organization Amigos de los Niños (Friends of the Children) took the first steps toward grass roots community service in 1991 when a group of people living in Cabo San Lucas showed interest in helping their less fortunate neighbours. During the Holiday Season, they dressed one of their members as a ‘Cabo’ Santa Claus and distributed Christmas gifts to marginalized children. Although a lot of laughter and smiles were provoked, they found that this was not a solution for the problems that these children and their families faced each day.
After a series of open meetings a consensus was reached to elaborate and carry out projects that would address the problems of the children and effect change for a better quality of life and then they started looking for these projects. The public schools in Cabo San Lucas did not have water purification systems so the newly formed group installed this service improving basic health for hundreds of local school children.”
Amigos de los Niños became incorporated as an official non-profit organization - Association Civil and Authorized Donataria - with the ability to offer tax deductible receipts in Mexico.
"Amigos de los Niños provides quality health care in Los Cabos to children up to the age of 18 who have no other means...arranging for external medical consultations, organized clinics and assistance in setting up medical treatment for special cases of the severely ill or disabled."
What a wonderful history! With over 25 years of services, Amigos de los Niños is supported by local businesses and medical facilities and by doctors from the USA, who come to assist in the free clinics. Another heartfelt example of the goodness that exists in the world.