Puerto Vallarta is a popular coastal resort city with a vibrant culture and bustling tourism industry. Unseen by most tourists is the extreme poverty, with many areas of the city severely underserved by roads and sewers, and lacking sufficient electric infrastructure or a potable water supply.
Project partner MexMission provides humanitarian relief to impoverished families here, by distributing food, clothing and other basic items. For the past few years a major initiative has been to help support low-income families living off the city dump in the Colonia Magesterio. These families live in simple homes on the edges of the rubbish and earn a living picking through the trash for recyclable materials. Collaborating with a local soup kitchen named “Children of the Dump,” MexMission collects and delivers large amounts of food from local retailers. Every week hot meals are served to 200-300 families, and food parcels are distributed. Clothing, toys and household items are also distributed, bringing joy to many.
A variety of humanitarian aid items are also distributed to several small villages on the outskirts of the city, such as the town of San Nicolas. Here many families live in extreme poverty, in shacks made of scrap wood and tar paper, with no electricity or running water. Regular programs are conducted at several orphanages throughout the city, not only distributing food and other aid, but hosting monthly birthday parties with gifts, cake and entertainment, and performing lively children’s puppet shows to encourage and engage the orphans.
Following the lead of renowned Dr. Patch Adams in using humor to inspire and uplift patients, for the past few years MexMission’s “Laughter Therapy” teams have been conducting regular visits to the main government hospitals in Puerto Vallarta and Mexico City. Workshops are held to train new volunteers, with many people joining in the fun to dress as clown “doctors” and help encourage and spread cheer to the sick and suffering.