Rancho Pint - The Mexico Page

Text and Photos ©2015 by J. Pint

unless otherwise indicated

Photo Gallery

Stefanie McGrath with seed bombs

 Stefanie McGrath organized a hike along Guadalajara's Primavera Nature Trail so kids belonging to “Help the Children, Please!” Members of the group made the seed bombs themselves.

Project to adopt street dogs

 Left to right: left to right are Julia Cortés Romo, and Loren and Gabriel Cortés Contreras with one of the dogs they helped people adopt during the 6th Project of “Help the Children, Please!” This project won a prize for Guadalajara's American School at the national ExpoCiencias competition in Puebla. Photo courtesy of Help the Children, Please!

Poster about saving water

A poster about the eleventh project of “Help the Children, Please!” says that repairing one faucet can mean a savings of 1579 liters of water. Photo courtesy of Help the Children, Please!

Hike in Primavera Forest, Guadalajara, Mexico

The Primavera Nature trail takes hikers across a carpet of pine needles before descending to a different environment in a damp arroyo.

Olivia McGrath

Olivia McGrath with a clay “bomb” containing milkweed (Asclepias) seeds. She and her sister thought up this project to help Monarch butterflies, whose numbers are drastically declining.

The painting project

 In the second project of “Help the Children, Please!” the kids auctioned off their paintings to buy educational material for the Freire Institute for handicapped children. Photo courtesy of Help the Children, Please!

Celebrating Project 2

 Celebrating the successful conclusion of Project 2 described above. Photo courtesy of Help the Children, Please!

Nature Trail Lookout

Woodsy talk: With a spectacular view in the background, hikers gather around biologist Jesús Lepe to learn about plants and animals in the Primavera Forest. The Primavera Nature Trail is 2.2 kilometers long and takes visitors through several natural environments.




Amazing Guadalajara children work to make a better world

By John Pint

Kids from “Help the Children, Please!” throw milkweed seed bombsMembers of six families whose children attend the American School in Guadalajara, Mexico, gathered together recently to hike along a 2.2 kilometer Nature Trail laid out by rangers in the Primavera Forest, located just west of the city. All members of the group were carrying bombs, but not the sort that cause destruction.

Just the opposite. “These are called seed bombs,” explained trip organizer Stefanie McGrath, handing me a hard brown ball about an inch and a half (4 cm) wide. “They're made of clay mixed with the seeds of the milkweed plant,” continued McGrath, “on whose leaves the Monarch butterfly lays its eggs. Unfortunately, the numbers of Monarchs are in serious decline because of deforestation, agricultural spraying, urbanization, fires and climate change. So we've come to toss our seed bombs in an area where milkweed plants have a chance of growing and someday providing food for las monarcas.”

McGrath went on to explain that this was a hands-on project of seven local families for promoting pollinator plants for bees, butterflies, bats and hummingbirds. “It's the first time we do this,” she said, “so we had to learn a lot of things about how to make the bombs correctly.”

They were able to get the seeds from a government-certified resource and they obtained local, natural powdered clay from potters in Tlaquepaque, which is famous for its arts and crafts. The families then gathered together several weeks ago to make the bombs well ahead of the start of the rainy season.

I asked who came up with the idea of this project and learned it was Stefanie's daughters, Carlie and Olivia. Olivia told me, “We were looking for a project that would help the environment and I thought of the milkweed plants we have growing at our house and how much we enjoy watching the caterpillars turn into butterflies.”

As we began our hike along the edge of a steep drop overlooking the forest, I heard someone in the group mention that seed bombing was their 14th project.

“Well, tell me a little about the other 13,” I said.

Kids from “Help the Children, Please!” wash cars without water. Photo courtesy of Help the Children, Please!A shy little girl named Kiran spoke up immediately: “One of them was a waterless car wash project. We used a special soap that doesn't need water.” I learned that this project took place a year and a half ago when the kids washed cars using a special technique employed by Ecosquad Carwash, a small business in Guadalajara where you can indeed get your car washed with a harmless, biodegradable product that uses almost no water.

A boy named Rodrigo added a comment: “With the money we got from the car wash, we hired some plumbers, and then we went from house to house in Zapopan asking people if they had leaky faucets or water pipes... and the plumbers fixed them. It was a project to save water!”

In short order the rest of the children started telling me about other projects this group had done. They participated in a soup kitchen and cooked meals for kids whose parents work in the street. They cleaned trash out of rivers in Colomos Park. They did a project to get street dogs adopted. They put on a show in a hospital which performs operations on children with cleft palates. They held a concert for the benefit of disabled kids in an orphanage. And their very first project, I learned from a boy named Arun, had occurred about four years ago when they raised money and sent it to India to fix two water pumps and build a new one in communities that had no water.

I was astounded. “You've done fourteen projects like these?” I said. “How did it all begin? Who started the first project?

“Arun,” they all said.

I asked Arun what had inspired him and discovered I should have asked who.

“It was Craig Kielburger who inspired me,” said Arun. “He gave a presentation in Guadalajara at the end of 2010. After listening to him, I talked to my mom and she called friends and we started with maybe four families and we named the group, 'Help the Children, Please!' Now we've done fourteen projects and we are growing.”

Little by little I learned that Craig Kielburger is a Canadian who, at the age of twelve, had been profoundly impacted by a news story about a boy in India who had been sold into slavery at the age of four and had been chained to a carpet-weaving loom for six years... and had been murdered—at the age of twelve—when all of this came to light. Craig and eleven other teens organized themselves as The “Twelve-Twelve-year-Olds” and started a movement called Free the Children, which grew and grew and now mobilizes 2.3 million young people around the world. Kids helping kids have managed to get over 650 schools built and have provided over a million people with clean water, health care and sanitation.

Our walk eventually took us into a cool, damp arroyo where there was moss on the rocks and ferns everywhere. “This is the perfect place for milkweed,” announced biologist Jesús Lepe. “Bombs away!”

The clay balls flying through the air somehow seemed symbolic to me. These children and these families were sewing seeds of another sort with every new project of theirs. I have to admit it, meeting them has given me a new perspective. I think there's actually hope for this old planet, after all!


Looking for ideas? Perhaps you'll find one among the 14 projects carried out during the last five years by “Help the Children Please!”

(List courtesy of Geeta Pandey)

1) Building and repairing two water wells in India, by raising funds through bake sales (goodies made by the children).

2) Helping Instituto Freire de Guadalajara. This is a school for handicapped children. Our kids made paintings together with students from Freire, then auctioned them to raise money in order to buy educational material for the institute.

3) Project “Cleaning up Colomos!” Parents and children got together one Saturday to learn about the lesser-known areas of Colomos and help remove trash from the small rivers and green areas.

4) Providing children of El Oasis orphanage with a day of fun, games, food and much needed new mattress protectors. Ozzy Juegos donated their time to provide entertainment.

5) Each family chose to sponsor a child at Sueńos y Esperanzas Orphanage for a year.

6) Raising awareness of proper pet care and promoting the adoption of street animals in Guadalajara. This project won a nation-wide science competition at Puebla, called Codigo Ciencia.

7) Helping abandoned children with cerebral palsy at “Hogar de la Caridad Bienaventurados de Jesus,” by selling tickets for a kids' violin concert. We were able to provide them with one month's worth of diapers and medicines.

8) Supporting patients and their parents post-operatively at Operation Smile. Our kids performed magic tricks and read books to the patients. They donated food to the tired parents and small toys to the children.

9) Raising funds and awareness to help the WWF`s efforts to save the Mexican vaquita porpoise from extinction.

10) Providing Christmas gifts and enjoying a typical Mexican posada with the abandoned children at Fundación para el Apoyo Institucional y Aldea Infantil.

11) “A Drop per Second”: Saving water in Guadalajara, by promoting Ecosquad`s water-free car washes, distributing flyers with water-saving tips, free buckets and pebble-filled water bottles to place inside toilets. Three plumbers donated their day's work fixing leaks for free around Zapopan.

12) Auctioning art work to support Freire Institute again, this time to help them move into a new building.

13) Soup Kitchen for kids from CODENI, an organization that provides education, health, etc. to children of street workers. Our kids bought, cooked and served food to Codeni kids.

14) Seed bombs at Primavera forest, in an effort to help increase the number of monarch butterflies visiting our area by attracting them with pollen-rich flowers.


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