A new year of travels and project-minding has started. At this point it is difficult to say how events will unfold but we have received many questions about what is going on and where we are. Peter is the adventurous side of Abrazos: this year he visited the Mexican province of Chiapas together with our friend and role model Paul Poirier
Paul and his wife Diane have visited México many times in the last thirty years. They fell in love with the country and its people, in particular those living in indigenous communities of Chiapas. The couple witnessed the poverty and hardship of the many and decided to do what they could to alleviate the suffering. Ever sensitive to the feeling of others their help would be delivered not from the top down but by collaboration with the local communities. In 1993 the couple, along with friends of their community, formed Arthur Frederick Community Builders: a registered Canadian Charity that raises funds to build homes for the impoverished communities of Chiapas. More than twenty homes as well as thirty classrooms, rain water collection and sanitation systems have been built.
Medical and sanitation supplies were provided thanks to the effort and concern of this couple and the many supporters in the cities of Belleville, Ontario and San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. Sadly, Diane died suddenly of a stroke in June 2014; now Paul and a dedicated group in Belleville carry on the work.
AFCB has a very effective system of determining that the funds raised are used to the optimum. It works as follows: The community itself determines which families are most in need (there is no lack of candidates!).
Paul and his helper Juan Diaz of Vista Hermosa would meet with each family to determine the priority. Those with the greatest need, usually with numerous dependants, go to the top of the list. Paul, an experienced builder, with the help of Juan and Minerva, residents of Chiapas, consult with the families who select the site and then the quantities of building material are determined. Each family is responsible for providing the labour. It takes a lot of time on the part of Paul and his helpers to insure that the lowest price is obtained for the items of construction. A peso saved here, another there insures that the most houses are built with the limited funds available. This time, 2014 – 2015; eight houses will be built and a ninth if there is money left over. The five under construction for December 2014 will provide shelter for some 36 adults and children. Could one make a better investment?