On the night of September 14th, Hurricane Odile left behind large disasters in Baja California Sur. The next day we woke up with a different city: fallen trees, damaged houses, stores and streets destroyed. We didn’t have any communication, which made us face a very difficult situation. Our main concern, however, was not knowing the conditions of the children in the Los Cabos Children’s Foundation’s (LCCF) programs, Spirit of Love and Spirit of Joy, which I proudly represent in the city of La Paz.
LCCF works hard at creating bonds with the children and their families. We care for their well-being and continue to support them and be always attentive to the needs of each one. This helps us be more aware of their life situation and since most of them live in modest houses we knew that after Hurricane Odile they would encounter extreme complications of a lack of food and drinking water which are vital for any human being.
Los Cabos Children’s Foundation has a disaster fund, which was immediately put into action to support the families of our little brave heroes. After searching for hours for food and considerable time spent in long lines to pay, I had enough food and supplies to make packages for the families.
In order to better assist them, we needed to know how they were and what they needed. I first tried to make contact by phone and messages, however during those first days it didn’t work well due to the lack of these services in many areas. So I gave myself the task of visiting their homes to bring them non-perishable food, water, milk and diapers for the little ones and their families. I also tried to give them the emotional support that was so badly needed in that moment.
The affection and gratitude shown by them is beyond my words to describe. To realize that they only had a small tray of beans to feed 3 adults and 5 children was shocking. Seeing their shining eyes as they received the food supplies caused a shift in my heart. I realized how much we could learn from these children’s wonderful example of sharing food they just received with everyone that surrounded them, who also had nothing to eat.
During this wonderful work, Dr. Rogelio Ortiz and I found several children playing soccer with a coconut they found from one of the many fallen palm trees. Suddenly from amongst these children, José de Jesús came running towards us. Just four months ago he had open heart surgery thanks to the LCCF Spirit of Love program and the amazing medical team from the Children’s Hospital of Omaha, Nebraska. What a joy to see him play and smile! Of course, I couldn’t go without a big hug from him and he didn’t escape my big kiss too! We stayed with him talking for a couple of hours until his mom arrived, who had to go out to work. They didn’t have electricity, water, nor any food for that day so LCCF’s package was a huge relief for them.
Many similar stories I lived thanks to Odile. I found smiles, received many hugs and always heard positive words even in these difficult situations. Some households had less necessities than others, however they all agreed that what was important is that they were all alive and healthy. Some parents, filled with excitement, couldn’t stop thanking LCCF for giving their kids the opportunity to live thanks to an open heart surgery. They truly appreciated that we were still part of their lives, following up on their needs and bringing them water and food when they needed it the most. I felt so fortunate to be a part of this great big family.
Fortunately, many of the cancer patients of our Spirit of Joy program were in the oncology center at the hospital which suffered little significant damage and didn’t delay their treatments. Knowing that some of them had to go home soon, we gave them food supplies for their families in the oncology area.
The families of the Spirit of Joy and the Spirit of Love children that live in the municipalities of Mulegé and Loreto escaped the worst of Hurricane Odile and only suffered minor damage.
The Los Cabos Children’s Foundation, through its representatives and volunteers, did not rest until they knew that all of the families of the children of our programs were safe and stable. Through the coordination of our executive director, Greg Edwards, the help of Jayson Stirrup in Los Cabos, Eladia Corumel in Comondú, and Dr. Rogelio Ortiz and myself in La Paz, we continued visiting their homes as many times as necessary, always with words of encouragement, water and food. Unfortunately, we cannot magically change difficult situations like this one but we can, as servants to the community, remain always alert and ready to serve when needed.
I have always believed that the best of a person can be revealed in the worst of situations.