Monday, October 20, 2008

A First And A Last

Dear Readers:

Here's a first for me. I am reprinting a comment from a reader as a main post. Why? Because I feel this message is important enough to my NOB readers to make sure you read it. So take a minute to read this comment about trying to do something nice for people and the problems with sending stuff to Mexico. I'll see you at the bottom.

Dear Wayne,

As you may remember, after Hurricane Isadore (which destroyed crops, livestock, and many thousands of homes in the state of Yucatan), I collected clothing and cash donations from good people (including you and B). I learned a lot through this experience, which I would like to relay to your readers.

At that time, I was told that in order to air ship these items to Mexico, I would have to be a registered shipper, due to laws placed in effect after 9/11. So, I filled out the paperwork and passed the background check. And then I contacted another registered shipper, Fed Ex, who offered to air ship, free of charge, tons (truckloads) of donations my daughter and I delivered to the MSP airport.

The first two shipments made it through Yucatan customs, because my contacts there struck a deal with custom agents who took some of the goods. What remained was trucked to a rural village, about 50 miles from Merida, where it was distributed, free of charge, by my friend’s sister. The third shipment did not arrive as planned, because I was unwilling to pay custom fees that, as I recall, amounted to $450, and my contacts were unable to make a deal. This is when a Fed Ex agent called to report that customs said the items would be burned if I didn’t pay the fee. I don’t know what happened to these donated items, which although second-hand, were of high quality and still in excellent condition. I’ll just state here what I hope happened--that the donated items benefited people in need.

Also at that time, my Fed Ex charitable shipping contact told me she was going to call Nike who wanted to donate shoes to a good cause. Later, in an online Yucatan newspaper, I read that Nike had sent a large quantity (I don’t recall the number but it was a lot) of shoes to the Red Cross in Merida, and that a spokeswoman for the Red Cross was livid, because the shoes were being held in a warehouse, because customs wanted Nike to pay $4 per pair in order to release the donated shoes.

One year later, I spoke with a U.S. teenager who had just returned from a church mission trip to the rural Yucatan village I know, where his group helped to repair a pastor’s house. This teen said that, during a conversation with a local teen, he noticed that the local was wearing two left-footed shoes. (I don’t know if they were Nikes.) The American said the experience made him realize how lucky he is.

We all know that manufacturers profit from cheap labor, and that’s why peasants will always be poor. I recommend that your readers bring gently used winter jackets to Mexico (they are really appreciated), wire money to someone they trust to distribute and/or use to purchase what folks really need locally, and keep the economy flowing by being generous with tips to waiters and hotel maids. And by the way, Fed Ex charitable shipping now benefits our troops in Iraq.

Thank you for donating your time towards helping others. What goes around comes around, and generosity is always rewarded in one way or another.--Jane Hudalla

I remember Jane's hard work and her frustration at the time very well. She did a hell of a lot more than what I am doing now. She deserves a round of applause for all of her work back then....and her ongoing care for the lives of others.

So the Last in my title? This is the last time I am going to ask you to donate to my project of getting warm clothing and one Christmas present each per child in Xico. I won't be mentioning the project again until Christmas when I thank all of you. If you care and want to donate, you know how. If not, then just continue enjoying my blog while sipping your Starbucks that could have provided a gift for a worthy child.


Babs said...

Continental Airlines used to let me bring two extra bags in when they were filled with toys and clothes for kids. I don't know if they'll let you do that anymore.......In most of Mexico kids don't get toys for Christmas - at least not here in San Miguel - they get a few small things on January 6th for the Three Kings Day but Christmas is about the birth.

Calypso said...

Wayne and Jane,
Man! It is with a heavy heart I read Jane’s report. There has been several hundreds of dollars donated for your project via Paypal. When I see their fees for that money, that alone irks me. I have thought about contacting them to let them know this is money for the poor – do they really need to take a percentage?

That is small potatoes to the shenanigans reported by Jane; people in customs essentially stealing from needy people – their own countrymen. At the same time the governments are crying out for help from the world at large when disaster hits their shores.

My heart breaks for the poor people we live amongst sometimes. They are essentially happy folks who have little to nothing. I have to wonder how these thieves manage to sleep at night.

I have always held that the Zapatista Marcos’ declaration of a desire to have a government in place that commands by being obedient to the will of the people. And by the way a government that he did not want to be part of per se – as a ruler within. You gotta love that platform.

Does anyone believe that the will of the people of any country is for an 'obedient government' to steal from the poor – I think not.

I personally would like to look in the eyes of any customs official who demands anything on items donated by good people to help people of their own country to just see what kind of person that individual must be.

At least in this small case no one involved will profit. If there are thieves in between the receipt of gifts to the poor they will ultimately pay a terrible price.

Again thanks Wayne and all the others that have donated to the people of Ursulo Galvan. We love you for it.

Calypso said...


More and more people celebrate Christmas - they celebrate the Three Wise Men bearing gifts. They put their shoes out the night before and the next morning a present should be in the shoe.

El Día de Reyes

You can read more about it here:

That being kind of what stated this drive.

Islagringo said...

Babs: I would think you can bring as many bags in as you want long as you are willing to pay for them! Calypso is right about the gifts though. They are given on 3 Kings day...if at all. And that is the point here. A gift for every single child. We want to make this a season they will remember well into adulthood.

Calypso: Points well taken and you are right about the 3 Kings day. That is when kids get presents here too. I have been asked via email why I am not doing this for the kids of my own island. There are poor people here too. The answer is simple. They do not need my help. There are already so many charitable organizations set up here on Isla and tourists bring down suitcases full of stuff to be given out to the people here. I don't think there is the need here like where you live and in other places around Mexico.

Anonymous said...

PayPal will certainly not care that it is for charity. During Hurricane Dean, our group of marauders raised somewhere in the neighborhood of 20K usd...most of which was donated through PayPal, who took their 3 or 3.5% of whatever it was. I do believe, however, that the people accepting the donations were in a position (and were generous enough) to be able to cover those losses with their own donations, however. Unfortunately, most of us who live here are not in such a position.

Good work, Calypso and Wayne. I'm proud to know you. I will be able to send a little bit later today or tomorrow, am having PayPal password issues.

Michele in Playa said...

Wayne - If you don't mind, I am going to post a request on my blog and on our local forums to solicite donations of gently used winter items for this very worthy initiative. It is not difficult to pack just a few extra things in a suitcase and I will be happy to go to hotels or whatever to collect the donated items. Let me know if that is alright by you.

Steve Cotton said...

These tales encourage me -- because there are good people who see a need and respond.

Loretta said...

Hi Wayne,

Maybe I'm just dense, but I can't tell how to donate. The PayPal button on the Viva Veracruz site says the donation is to keep their servers running...Do I mail a check to the address in your left sidebar? I'm confooooosed. Little help?


Islagringo said...

heather: I am assuming that most people are doing what I asked and donating a small amount to add up to a greater good. If so, the fee won't be too much. At any rate, PayPal should certainly take charitable donations into consideration and not be so greedy. And thank you for your help, donation and support!

michelle: if you don't mind, I would rather you ask your readers to make a small cash donation. At this point, quite a few people are sending clothing items (which we are not sure will make it!) and we could use money for children's toys more. Either way, thank you for your support and for caring enough to try to help. Anything is appreciated really.

Steve: the human race continues to surprise me with their caring and willingness to give of their pocketbooks and hearts. I do have a group of fantastic readers!

Loretta: no you are not dense, just unable to post a video! LOL! It is kind of confusing when you get over to Johns site. I have now included directions in my sidebar. Thank you so much for helping!

Jane Hudalla said...

Dear Wayne. Thank you for what you said about my efforts on behalf of people I love in Yucatan. My best friend and his father, however, are the ones who should be praised, because they risked their lives to deliver what people really needed at that time--HOPE.
I also must defend the custom’s agents my friend dealt with, whose motives for taking some of the items may have been good. Perhaps they also knew people in need, and perhaps the agents risked their jobs and broke the law by allowing the donations to pass through. But why were the Nike shoes held in a warehouse? I place the blame for that on state officials in "ivory towers" who I believe profited at the expense of their people. I could say much more on this, but I won’t, because I don’t want my friends in Mexico to suffer more than they already have for trying help their own impoverished people.
For years I’ve believed that the miraculous power of the Internet can be used for both good and evil. And I also believe we all need to be very careful not to believe everything we read on the Internet. And because of lies I've read online, I am currently praying that honest and courageous people will be elected during our upcoming national elections.
Yesterday I was moved by an electronic letter sent from Isla Mujeres, which included a Bible passage, Miqueas 6,8 (which I believe translates to Micah 6:8 in my English Bible). It reads, “… he has told you what he wants…: to be fair and just and merciful, and to walk humbly with your God.”
Good words to ponder.

Anonymous said...

Not that PayPal is a major issue here (the needy are), but I've had nothing but trouble from PayPal for years ... which is why I kinda backed off from joining that effort...

Why, for example, do they need sensitive banking info (account numbers, etc) in order for them to do their thing?..???

Never trusted 'em.


Islagringo said...

Jane: while I respect your humanitarian work, please to not try to turn my blog into a pulpit.

robert: you are the only person I have ever heard that has had problems with PayPal. They want that information because if a customer buys something and reports that they are dissatisfied, PayPal immediately, no questions asked, backs out the payment from your account and pays the complainer back. I use PayPal with a credit card. No bank info necessary.

Anonymous said...

Well, you may very well be correct .... I have this ingrained thing about matters financial and Who Needs To Know What About 'Em ...

It's possible that I was being phished at one point, and reacted as vociferously as I did ... nonetheless, I don't trust these f**ks ... (does the last 3 financial months or so Give One Pause..????)

I'd like to think that the age of Money Orders still exists ....(sigh)

I'm not that I'm THAT old a fart, but it's hard to maintain confidence with all the crap going on around us ...maybe that's why I go to Isla as often as I do ...(It's Not Real, in my way of thinking)....



Jane Hudalla said...

OUCH! Well maybe I did get carried away, but all I was trying to do was encourage people to vote, and to pray that the upcoming election will be honest.
Hope your charitable effort is a huge success, Wayne.