You have your good days at Playa Viva and sometimes you have a great day. A good day might include a morning run, a yoga class, releasing baby turtles back to the ocean, sighting a whale breach off shore, reading a good book, a great conversation with a new friend, taking a nap in the hammock, a stroll on the beach, eating a healthy Mexican meal and so much more. But a GREAT day, what does it take to top all this?
Yesterday, I had a really great day at Playa Viva. It started as normal with a nice run through the property, then back in time to catch the last half a a yoga class and hearty, healthy breakfast. Then it all started. First, a group of 8 or so guests met up at the local elementary school to paint the bathrooms. This was part of a community service program started by our General Manager, Julia Garcia. The bathrooms in the local elementary school had been in really bad shape, no running water, roof rotting and collapsing, students standing in the rain waiting to go to the bathroom. Julia initiated a program to repair the bathrooms. The first phase of reconstruction was fixing the ceilings and walls, adding a shading/roof structure in front of the bathrooms. Yesterday, it culminated with a “Tom Sawyer Painting Party” with all of us grabbing a brush or a roller and doing our part. We still have more work to do. Phase 2 will involve a water tank on roof, a pump and some plumbing to provide running water for toilets and sinks (to donate to school repair click here and in the field marked “Other Purpose” write “Elem School Bathroom Repair”). Part of improving overall hygene and providing some basic needs for the elementary school kids in Juluchuca.
As for basic needs, our next stop was at the local medical clinic with three physician staying as guests at Playa Viva. Thus, a spin off group from the painting party headed over to see what we could do to assist and improve the local health clinic. We stood outside the clinic for about 20 minutes until the doctor had seen all the patients waiting for her and then we took our turn to meet with the local doctor. What we learned came as a complete surprise.
The doctor was doing her social service, 1 year after her internship and residency. She was from Mexico City and had chosen the town of Juluchuca because she always wanted to go to the beach. Yet she confessed to us that she has been so busy dealing with the extreme conditions that she has not yet had a chance to visit the beach. What’s been keeping her so busy is that she was thrust into a situation worse than she could have ever imagined. It had been over a year since the last doctor was at the clinic. The infrastructure was crumbling around her. Ceilings were caving in, doors rotting with termites and, worst of all, no running water. We expected to come in and see if we could help with health education, outreach or some supplies; but we were shocked to find out that what she needed most was basic infrastructure repairs – running water!
We toured the clinic with the doctor and asked her to put together a list of her needs. She started with plumbing so that she could connect the water to the cistern on the roof so she could have running water and ended the list with a few medical items such as a nebulizer, an examination table (current one is broken), replacing old and broken scales even a typewriter (or better yet laptop and printer) for managing patient records. We asked her to compile a complete list, order them by priorities and meet us at Playa Viva on Saturday for dinner so she could FINALLY get to the beach. (To donate to clinic repair – click here and in the field marked “Other Purpose” write “Med Clinic Repair.”)
We left the clinic feeling a surge of energy for what needs to be done, then headed towards the library to see how the English classes were progressing. The previous week, I had run into some of the young kids of Juluchuca, teenagers who had returned with their families from the US to come back to live at home in Juluchuca. These teenagers were raised in the US, spoke the language well enough, had attended school in the US but were now just hanging out in the roadside stands peddling coconut candies and salt (the products produced locally). So we talked about having them start an after-school program to teach English to the local elementary school kids. Some of those kids were born and grew up in the states, but most hadn’t. Either way, no mater the skill level, the goal was to help the teenagers retain their English and to pass those skills on to their younger brothers and sisters. Speaking English is a huge benefit when looking for work in the local area allowing you to get higher paid jobs.
Well, when we arrived to the library we were hit by another big surprise. The number of kids who showed up for the the after school program was more than expected and the library was overflowing. While I originally thought we would limit the program to 10 kids, we had over 30 kids show up from 1st grade to junior high schoolers. The after-school program was more popular than we could have imagined. The kids greeted us by reciting their ABC’s, the numbers, the colors and the days of the week all in English, this just after 2 days of classes.
We started the day by painting bathrooms, the middle of the day realizing that we would someday soon be painting the local health clinic and ended the day being serenaded with the colors of the rainbow in English. This was a GREAT day at Playa Viva, seeing the impact that we can make in improving the health, education and economic conditions of the local community – through the inspiration and perspiration of our staff and guests. The idea to visit the health clinic was originated by our guests, the idea to fix the bathrooms was Julia’s (our GM) and the painting project was inspired by guests who wanted to participate in a community project while on site.
We invite you to come join us at Playa Viva, to have a good day relaxing and enjoying all that this place has to offer; and then take your vacation experience to the next level and join us for a GREAT day in giving back, making a real impact and doing something simple to make this place better for all of us.
If you would like to make a donation to the local community fund – please go to our Friends of Fund – through the Ocean Foundation – by clicking here and filling out the form to make a donation – feel free to specify in the space provided that you want the funds to go to the school, the clinic or other project. Thank you.