Some people sit back and only criticize the world’s problems—the politicians, business activities, community affairs, whatever—but they never lift a finger or give a dime to do anything to change them. Others, like the many volunteers of Por Los Niños (For the Children) educational charity of Zihuatanejo, have a vision and take action. They give their time, energy, and resources to work for positive change.
Since 2002, the volunteers of Por Los Niños educational charity have donated, raised funds, and built more than seventy classrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, and playgrounds for disadvantaged children in the Zihuatanejo area. Nearly five thousand young students have benefited from their efforts. The charity’s vision is to provide an educational opportunity for each and every child in Zihuatanejo, regardless of income level or social status.
The main fundraising event for Por Los Niños charity is the annual Zihuatanejo Sailfest—a six-day festival held the first week of every February that combines fun, games, and beach activities. Sailboats come from as far away as Alaska and the Caribbean to participate in what is becoming one of Mexico’s premier sailing events. The event includes sailboat and dingy races, music concerts, a kids’ beach day, seminars, a chili cook-off, street fairs, regattas, and school tours—all to raise funds for education.
The state secretary of education stated that the Zihuatanejo Sailfest is the most successful educational fundraiser in the state of Guerrero. In addition to cash donations, more than two hundred local businesses in Ixtapa and Zihuatanejo donate thousands of dollars in gifts and services, and over thirty local and international musicians perform at benefit concerts.
The 2014 Zihuatanejo Sailfest event raised over $80,000 USD to build schools, bathrooms, kitchens, and scholarships for underprivileged students.
But, fundraising is only half of the story. Por Los Niños actually oversees the construction of new classrooms, bathrooms, and kitchens for the schools. Schools and/or communities submit their project requests for funding to the charity. Each request is carefully scrutinized, and an advisory committee composed of bilingual Mexican educators, local international residents, and charity volunteer members makes the decisions for project funding.
The educational charity cannot implement a construction project alone. A variety of other international, national, and local organizations and groups are also needed to provide the necessary funds, materials, products, and services to build and furnish the schools. For example, Por Los Niños charity built a new kindergarten and elementary school at Colonia 3 de Diciembre in the Barrio Nuevo community that opened on September 10, 2014. In addition to the funds contributed by charity, many others donated money and services to the school for its construction, including:
- Austin Brown, a ten year old from Springdale, Arkansas, USA, raised and contributed $21,000 USD to the school project.
- Rotary clubs in Plymouth-Foothills, California; Bellevue, Washington; and Springdale, Arkansas, along with Club Rotario (Rotary)de Zihuatanejo, contributed to the project.
- Jane Fiala, a Sailfest volunteer, donated $10,000 USD for materials to construct a kitchen.
- Helen Walsh, another Sailfest volunteer from Ontario, Canada, raised funds for materials for a septic tank for the kindergarten class.
- The municipality of Zihuatanejo supplied dirt, gravel, and paid for workers. The municipal and state governments provided the necessary teachers.
- Jorge Sánchez Allec, a local businessman who owns a concrete company, donated the concrete floors, roof, and patio area.
- Grupo El Plateado, a local construction materials provider, sold materials for the school at cost, making no profit from the project.
- Utility companies CFE and CONAGUA provided electrical and water services for the new school; utilities were not previously available to the old one.
- The parents of the school children raised enough funds to pay for a mason worker for each building; septic tanks; and one hundred trees and plants for the school garden.
In total, the list of donors includes nineteen individuals, organizations, and businesses!
Por Los Niños educational charity is comprised mostly of Canadian and American residents and tourists in the Ixtapa Zihuatanejo area. They serve as examples of “global citizens” who work for change.
For more information about Ixtapa Zihuatanejo and the surrounding areas, see: