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.
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.