KINGMAN – Jo Ann Oxsen recently returned from a trip to Mexico with the Rotary Los Amigos Project and said it was an “eye opener” to see the pressing needs of Mexican communities.
Kingman Route 66 Rotary Club hosts Rotarians from Alberta, Canada, for dinner on their way to Mexico every year, and Oxsen, international chairwoman of the Rotary Club, decided to join the group this year.
She would help drive donated ambulances and handicap buses to outlying towns around Mazatlan.
“Despite the heat (some vehicles were not air conditioned) and a long wait at Mexican customs, we arrived in good shape in Mazatlan,” Oxsen said in an email to the Daily Miner.
Several other Rotary Club ambassadors had flown from Alberta to Mexico to join the group. Over the next several days, the Rotarians accompanied those receiving the vehicles to Tlaquepaque, Acatlan, Tepatitlan, Coquimatian and Culiacan for acceptance ceremonies.
“It was heartwarming to see how very welcoming and appreciative each community was,” Oxsen said. “In Tepatitlan, we followed the ambulances and handicapped buses up and down the streets in town, sirens going full blast, followed by an address from the mayor in front of city hall.”
In Mazatlan, two people from Lethbridge University in Alberta joined the group in visiting a preschool established four years ago by the university’s Rotaract Club.
Rotaractors learned that in Mexico a child must attend preschool before being enrolled in primary school. Many families cannot afford the cost of preschool and, as a result, the children face a life of poverty – working in the fields and on the streets.
The first preschool building consisted of pallets wired together and topped with a metal sheeting roof. It had two volunteer teachers.
With additional funding, the preschool has expanded to a stucco building with seven classrooms and a paid teaching staff for 200 children.
As part of Los Amigos Project, three firefighters from Lethbridge were flown down to Mazatlan to instruct area firefighters there in firefighting techniques.
“It just goes to show that caring individuals and clubs like Rotary can have a major positive impact on alleviating poverty and suffering in those less fortunate,” Oxsen said.