Nogales 2015 – Update

Just a quick update:

All of the team members survived the project and the Martins are on their way home. This was an outstanding year with over 1800 blankets, 348 coats and toys, over 1000 shoeboxes/backpacks/toys and 900 groceries plus 83 balls delivered. The store ran out of balls, so we have some dollars to put towards next year!

We visited two schools that now have water thanks to our club in combination with Mississauga West. Our drinking water fountain is the only access to water for many of the students at one of these schools. They cannot afford to buy bottled water.

We had donations from the state of Sonora, the municipality of Nogales and two congressmen as well as the Rotaract and a taxi service. We visited the mayor, who has promised to make certain that the school most in need of a drinking fountain is provided with free water every second day. One of the congressmen and representatives from the other and the state attended our closing celebration and promised continued support.

Every time I looked around more groceries, more blankets, more toys, and more people seemed to be arriving to help. The firemen and Rotaract provided security and managed the flow of people. Rotary families directed people through the confusion. We have more and more children of Rotary members taking charge of the project and by that I mean a 10 year old telling our team what was and was not appropriate for a boy or girl in selection of backpacks, etc.

The US partner, the Pantano Club has greatly upped their financial support of the project inspired by the Canadians.

There were two ceremonies to recognize long-time team member and friend Jim Aslin, who passed away suddenly in October. The weather caused a change in the plans hence the two ceremonies. One was a very quiet and intimate celebration, the other loud and lovely. Jim always wanted to be taken somewhere so the taxi company will be installing a memorial to him in their new cabs. The owner is a new member of the Rotary Club.

The president of the Nogales club has been in the position for 44 days. In fact he has been a Rotarian for 44 days. He was marvellous and completely overwhelmed.

We are tired and exhilarated and thank the club for all of the support. Again, thanks to our membership for the support.

Cheryl Ewing

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8ovWdHEtHV4  [1] interview with Kirty & Jack
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M8EwK0RpM-o [2] interview to Fito

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Day #2 Update from Nogales (and a recap from Day 1)

Because we brought so much with us, supplemented generously by our American friends, we were able to skip additional shopping and get straight to work.  Although, our resident sports enthusiast, Cam Yule, did make TWO trips to buy balls for the local children. Everyone who passed his cart overflowing with soccer balls couldn’t resist touching the balls–adults and children. When it comes time for distribution, I am not sure who will be more excited, Cam or the kids!

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We made arrangements for our grocery distribution today. We were able to negotiate a great price for two weeks’ worth of staples thanks to La Tienda Soriana. 850 bags will be distributed on Sunday, 300 of these will go directly to people who are reliant on the Nogales Food Bank. We have over 1100 blankets for those in need, and will spend tonight counting the numerous gifts.

This morning we attended a ceremony thanking Rotarians for their support of the school through the provision of drinking water. Members of the Club Rotario de Nogales A.C. and Tucson’s Rincon Club were present to hear the presentation made by educators and even the children. During the ceremony there was a public commitment that the City of Nogales would also support this project.

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We were honoured to announce a further commitment from a member of our club, Don Zehr, as well as the Rotary Club of Mississauga. It is my hope that our club will join the Mississauga Club in a matching grant for next year. It still astonishes me that at least a dozen schools do not have drinking water for the school children.

We traveled on to a second school; the first school built in Nogales (1920). They’d also received a drinking fountain but needed an engineer to inspect it. The water only came out in a trickle; its pressure too low to push it through the many lengths of pipes. Water is not freely available in Nogales, and the water tank is too far away for the amount of water pressure currently available. The Nogales Club is working with the parents of the schools so that they are invested in the ongoing maintenance and security of the fountains. Sustainability is an important goal to everyone.

Tonight, we returned to the club to prepare for tomorrow’s distribution and were delighted to find an incredible meal prepared for us. Bags were packed, gifts sorted by gender and age, blankets and coats put in their place. We put together the shelves we purchased for the local community centre to hold all the supplies. The Nogales Club has undertaken the future programming of the centre.

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A small group of us visited a nearby school for disabled children. The needs of the children and the school, are incredible. The team separated; some returning to the hotel to rest in preparation for the evening’s activities, the rest went to La Tienda Soriana to buy more balls (courtesy of Cam!) and to make arrangement for the groceries.

Tonight we gathered again for dinner and celebration of our work and friendships.

DAY #1 Update from Nogales:

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Good morning all. Things are going well now that we are all here in Nogales. Well almost. Travel and luggage issues seemed to slow us down, but not deter us!I crossed over on Wed, a day late thanks to travel issues. Yesterday I had breakfast with the firemen. They need anything we can provide. What they don’t need they forward to other locations that have less than they do. They are about to open another station. Nogales census population is 350,000 but in reality it is closer to half a million. The department is the best equipped in the state thanks to the US and our donations. We have three haz mat jackets we will deliver today.I also visited an orphanage that is in a new building. The Club President’s wife would like to start some programming there.After a lot of dancing at the border we got supplies across. It is incredible what has been gathered. I will send an inventory later. The Sonora State governor donated 750 blankets. Very warm ones.

Today we are visiting a school where the Mexican club has put in a water fountain. Don Zehr has made a donation to the project.

We will also visit the food bank and drop off some food tickets.

This afternoon we will finish preparing for Sunday’s distribution.
Please enjoy a few photos of the project work to-date.

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Cheryl Ewing
Kitchener, Ontario
District 7080 ‘Shoebox’ Team Leader, Nogales Mexico
Rotary Club of Kitchener