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Those life changing moments

By Grace Dowling 4 years ago
Categories Yucatan

This is my 5th week here in Mexico with the GVI team of staff and other volunteers for the Childcare project, and what an incredible 5 weeks it’s been. 


Transitioning from feeling a little overwhelmed by the new environment and situations, to being completely comfortable and at home in a place I had never been before, around people who, anywhere between 1 to 5 weeks ago, were strangers. It’s crazy how familiar everyone and everything now seems.

So far I have been lucky enough to be able to explore and try a few of the GVI projects not just the Childcare. All of them have absolutely blown my mind with the work they do and the passion they put into their cause.


3 weeks ago was the first time I was introduced to the incredible women who run the Integral Care Center and also the students that attend their school that GVI is affiliated with. It was their anniversary birthday celebration and the volunteers were lucky enough to be given the opportunity to attend the celebration along with GVI staff. The following week, we were given the chance to spend a day at the school to see how the program ran and what a day at a school was like. The women who run this centre- mothers who wanted more for their children with special needs and wanted to give that opportunity to other families and people with special needs and disabilities- are completely selfless and incredible! The students at the school really just touch your heart, they have so much love and affection to give even if it’s not in the usual way we see it. You can really see how much they just want to interact and engage, just like everyone else.


The school uses many forms of therapy sessions, a few including animal therapies for the students. One of the therapies that GVI volunteers have recently been involved with is the aqua therapy. I have now participated in these therapy sessions twice, on both occasions I was stunned and amazed by the capability of the students and also at the benefits that you can physically see are reaped from the sessions. Regardless of the disability or syndrome the aqua therapy provides these people with some form of relief and independence.




The very first lesson I had a young boy, who is only about 7 years old and has Down syndrome and within the time of the one lesson (one hour) he was insisting I no longer help him while paddling laps of the pool, in both the deep and shallow ends. He was blowing bubbles, head under water, and using both his arms and legs to paddle along. The next session was equally as rewarding, with one of the older male students with cerebral palsy managing to float on his back without any assistance.

You really can see how much this benefits people with special needs, with loosening of physical joints to achievements of swimming or floating alone, and also confidence wise. It is just incredible and has definitely given me fabulous memories that I will keep and take home with me.


Along with the Childcare and Healthcare projects we were also shown the Veterinary project, at Coco´s Cat Rescue. Not only do the people who run Coco´s make it their mission to help reduce the reproduction of street animals and provide ongoing aid to street animals and pets, they have recently branched their organisation out to attempt in assisting the community of people that now populate an area known as Invasores, here in Playa del Carmen.

Last Friday along with the staff from Coco´s, other independent volunteers and women who’d brought a truckload of donated clothing and shoes from Canada, we spent half a day in the community of Invasores, the lowest socio-economic area in Playa del Carmen. The population is made up of families who cannot afford homes and to live in areas in other parts of town, so they have set up home on the land under power lines in the jungle.

As we were heading out there I really didn’t know what to expect as thus far I had seen people living unwell in Playa in town but not on a whole community scale. What we saw in this community was rough and really made you appreciate how fortunate you are, with basically all of the houses built from sticks from the jungle, perhaps some sheets used as walls, and with what I would say was over half the population walking around with no shoes and very minimal clothing.




What Coco´s clinic had organised, was to provide animal vaccinations and aid to the animals in the community along with distributing the mass load of donated, much needed clothing and shoes. I can honestly say I’ve never experienced anything like this before. The 4 to 5 hours we spent in Invasores just flew by, as we were constantly engaging with the community and there were an ongoing amount of animals that needed treatments. To see how these people live and the poverty which surrounds such a beautiful area as Playa del Carmen really took you back and made you realise just how some people are forced to live, those less fortunate, but still people who want the same things: a good life, good health and better opportunities. This was definitely a cause I was both excited and proud to have been able to be a part of.

The day was a success and I would have to say it has been my most rewarding and favourite day on the program so far.




I have experienced so many wonderful things and been given the opportunity to participate in some great activities that I could go on for a while. But basically the last 5 weeks for me, hasn’t just been about the projects, it’s been about trying new things and challenging myself, meeting new and incredible people that are like minded and interested in the same issues, and having the opportunity to explore beautiful new places, all of which this experience has given me.

I know the next 3 weeks of my time here on the program will fly by, but I am so excited for the continued adventures and experiences and for the memories I have already made and will keep!