There are some stunning views from many of the homes in Puerto Vallarta simply because of the steep hills and the sweeping Pacific Ocean. Some homes also benefit from lovely art and decorations inside the home and some have waterfalls, infinity pools and beautiful landscaping but very few members of the public see behind the high stone walls that protect these homes.
For 32 years the International Friendship Club (IFC) has been privileged to show many wonderful homes to customers who take an IFC Home Tour because the generous owners believe in the mission of the club; to help the poor people of Puerto Vallarta by donating all income of the club to the cleft palate program and other charities.
IFC Home Tours go every Tuesday and Wednesday morning at 10:30 from the Sea Monkey Restaurant, at the foot of Aquiles Serdan on the beach. Tickets cost $600pesos and can be purchased online at www.toursforvallarta.com. They can also be purchased on the day of the tour from the Sea Monkey but our luxury, air-conditioned buses fill up quickly so advance purchase is best.
Many homes that we visit have two or three flights of steps or are on cobbled streets, so a reasonable amount of physical agility is required. However, each tour is accompanied by a couple of the club’s docents and they make sure that comfort and safety are a top priority.
By taking an IFC Home Tour you’ll get an insider’s look at four lovely homes and will help many kids here. You’ll be doing good and having a good time.
“These shoes were made for walking”
By John Warren
If, when you woke up this morning, some mysterious virus had eaten all of the shoes in your house how would you get to work, to the beach or how would your kids get to school? There are over 300,000 children in the world that face that problem. They have no shoes.
No shoes, means no protection from sharp rocks, broken glass, parasites and filth on the streets which leads to sickness and the inability to attend school. To be a healthy human being everyone needs a pair of shoes and the shoes must fit properly, otherwise feet become gnarled and painful.
There’s a company in Nampa, Idaho that has an answer to this problem. Its name is Because International and it makes and distributes “The Shoe That Grows”. See www.theshoethatgrows.org The shoes grow five sizes through a simple design that allows expansion and adjustment and come in sizes that fit small children (aged 5 – 9) and large ones (aged 9 – 14) and mature feet. They have a sole of compressed rubber and the upper part is Velcro, covered with a strong anti-bacterial synthetic and they’ll last for years.
A few miles away from Nampa is the small town of Middleton and here lives an ordinary family with an extraordinary amount of love and respect for others who are not so fortunate. Ryan is a nurse, Ashley is a counsellor and they have a couple of small girls. Greta just had her fourth birthday but, instead of asking for presents, asked her mom and dad to use that money to buy shoes for kids who didn’t have any. Ryan and Ashley put the word out to their extended family and soon raised almost $1500 with which they bought 90 pairs of small and medium sized “Shoes That Grow”. A couple of weeks ago they lugged two duffle bags of the shoes to Puerto Vallarta to give away to kids that need them.
After researching the non-profit organizations here they contacted Susan Davalos, the social services director of the International Friendship Club (IFC), for help in distributing the shoes and last Tuesday, Susan, Ryan, Ashley and I piled into Susan’s truck and headed for the community church, Iglesia Cristiana, in one of the poorer colonias of PV, Magesterio where some homes consist of old lumber, plastic sheeting and are roofed with scavenged plywood.
Within fifteen minutes after our arrival we had about thirty kids checking out the new shoes, and a dozen moms sitting patiently on the plastic chairs waiting for their children to be fitted, chatting together and breast-feeding their babies. It was mid-afternoon and very warm but Susan, Ashley and Ryan worked hard to make each pair of shoes fit the tiny feet and the kids were very patient. The smiles that lit their faces and those of their moms when the children walked across the floor in their new shoes were certainly the best reward for all the thought and work that the two strangers, and their daughter, Greta, had put into helping those less fortunate than themselves.
We took the second bag of shoes to Arroyos de Esperanza (Stream of Hope) in the colonia of Progreso. This is another community church, but one that has been supported by IFC and Susan for over fifteen years. The children seemed to be better dressed than those in Magesterio but were still very appreciative of being able to have new shoes on their feet. Before we left Susan, a nurse who cares for sick kids when back in California, dispensed medicine and advice to some young moms.
Many people and organizations do what they can to help poor people in Mexico and around the world but sometimes they donate out-of-date drugs or old shoes that are quite worn. This afternoon we were able to increase the effectiveness of the gifts by providing new shoes that will last for many years. Thanks to Greta, Ryan and Ashley.
The International Friendship Club’s office and clubhouse is located in El Centro, where Insurgentes crosses the river. The office is open from 9:00 to 1:30 Monday to Friday. Members work hard throughout the season to raise money for the cleft palate program, to support social services programs and to contribute to about 20 charities. They also receive excellent discounts from local restaurants and businesses and have fun too. Full details of the activities can be found at www.ifcvallarta.com