Amiguitos has two main program areas:

Trips to Veracruz

View current Veracruz Trip Registration Forms (PDF)
Travel Information about Veracruz, Mexico (PDF)

Each June and December, groups of volunteers travel to Veracruz to team up with individuals in Mexico for an intense one-week program.  On occassion, work-trips to Pénjamo will be organized.   There are three one-week programs in June to Veracruz for you to choose from (or participate in both) and two in December to Veracruz.  Trips are being considered for every other spring to Pénjamo.  These one-week programs include medical clinics offering basic health care, construction projects to improve the community centers and educational programs to interact with the children.  Typically a trip will cost around $1,000 per person (USD), covering airfare, housing and meals (December is more expensive).    The group eats breakfast and lunch together.  Participants make their own dinner plans (often gathering in small groups to explore local restaurants).  There is a project worship and kickoff event at the  start of each week (Sunday).  There will be an optional cultural event in Veracruz  Wednesday evening and an optional all day cultural excursion for participants Friday (participants will pay their own way and costs will be less than $100).  Everything else needed for each project is paid for through donations to Amiguitos and will be arranged by the Amiguitos Trip Coordinator (local transportation, selection of accommodations, supplies and equipment for each project).   

Each month leading up to the trip, there is a planning meeting in the Denver, Colorado area to prepare for the work in Mexico (see Calendar for dates, times and locations). 

Since the largest cost of the trip is airfare, participants may wish to extend their visit to other parts of Mexico after the Amiguitos work week concludes (or stay in the beach resort area of Veracruz).  You will make and pay for your own personal extension plans (many participants with similar interests will group together informally).

Ongoing Programs in Pénjamo

Maria Elena Montoya de Arredondo is the director of  community centers in Pénjamo which are serving families with special needs children and other vulnerable children. 

Ongoing Programs in Veracruz

Goldi Santana Mera is the director of  community centers in Veracruz which are expanding to assist children and families enhance their health, education and welfare.   Currently the neighborhoods of Laguna and Reserve have centers hosted by residents in their front yards.  Plans are to construct permanent centers and to add additional centers in new struggling neighborhoods as time and resources allow. 

Goldi moved from Ecuador to Veracruz, Mexico in 2006 and leads development efforts onsite every week in Veracruz to improve the community.  Here are some of the programs and projects which she currently has going and some of the programs and projects that are planned to begin or expand in the coming months. 

1. Infant Care Program

In many families, husbands/fathers leave the Veracruz area in search of work.  As a result, many households are headed by women with small children.  A program to care for infants has been started to allow the adults to work without worrying about their infants.  Currently this program is serving a fraction of the infants that need care.

2.  Feeding Program

School age children are generally unattended during the day while parents work.  These children are responsible for riding the public bus to and from school (buses cost 30 cents each way for children) and purchasing their own meals during the day.  Unfortunately children are generally expected to accomplish both tasks  on 50 cents a day (the price of the wrapper that tortillas come in).  For this reason, neighborhood children are malnourished.  Goldi is currently feeding school-age children one mid-day meal each school day (Mon to Fri) at a cost of ~70 cents per meal.  Due to generous contributions to Amiguitos, this program will expand  to one mid-day meal 7 days a week starting in March 2007.  Note that since parents generally work 7 days per week, this expansion was important to the community.  Goldi would like to add breakfast each school day so that children are ready to learn during classes. 

3. Purified Drinking Water

Public water is undrinkable in Veracruz.  Residents must purchase expensive purified drinking water to remain healthy.  Many neighborhoods in Veracruz simply cannot afford this cost.  A purification system will be installed on the land purchased for the community center to provide affordable pure water to the neighborhood.  This one change will vastly improve the health of all in the community.  Although funding for the system has been provided, the community still needs to purchase equipment to sanitize the 5 gallon bottles to avoid putting clean water in dirty bottles (losing all benefits of the system).  The bottle sanitizing equipment costs $3,000.

4. Health Care

A doctor examines and treats all the children in the community center each month.  The community center is being stocked with basic medical supplies that families cannot afford: pain relievers, band-aids, anti-biotic ointment, pediacare, and other simple supplies.  In addition, residents in the neighborhood are volunteering for the community center’s Promoters of Health program.  Women in the neighborhood have volunteered to  receive basic education in how to stay healthy in a challenging environment.  Doctors and nurses on the medical trips will continue to provide additional training.  Eventually a simple clinic will be maintained at the community center by these health workers.  The clinic will be expanded  to pay for a nurse or doctors to treat residents at affordable prices.

5.  Land and Building Program

Currently programs are conducted in very small rented spance in this  vulnerable neighborhood.  Conditions are primitive for residents.  Shelter for programs is limited.  There is electricity and wells, however there is no sewer system and water is contaminated.  There is limited secure storage and all program materials must be brought into the neighborhood daily.  Space is limited for programs and  land has been bought and construction begun to build a permanent community center in Laguna (building cost ~$15,000 USD).  Land for a center and community gardens is sought in Reserve, an additional vulnerable neighborhood that has grown up since Amiguitos started working in Laguna in 2007.   A building in each location to serve as a permanent community center is desired.  The building in each neighborhood would  house a school (starting with pre-school and adding a grade each year), the infant care program,  feeding programs and community health program.  Included in each building would be  safe toilets, kitchen, classrooms, cafeteria/community room, nurse's office/clinic, purified water system, secure storage, and an office.  These resources are critical to improving community development efforts in these neighborhoods.

6.  School

Education is the best long term solution to the factors facing the vulnerable population in Veracruz.  To this end, Goldi began teaching the children of Laguna in 2007 and created a formal school in the fall of 2009.   Each year the school will add teachers and classes for an additional grade.  This school began in the temporary center (a resident's front yard) we hope to move to the new community building when it is constructed.  There are  programs to provide simple laptops to children worldwide (~$200/computer) and this program is just underway in the community center with the first laptop delivered by Amiguitos December 2007.   Plans are to provide wireless internet access at the school site to bring the “libraries of the world”  within reach of every child.   Each Amiguitos work trip will include a team to work with the neighborhood children.  Assisting with studies for final exams each June and a vacation school each December.  Each work trip a cultural field trip for the neighborhood children will be arranged and led by Amiguitos volunteers.

7. Sponsoring Children

($160 USD per child per 4 month school term or $40/month)
Children go to school hungry and do not learn.  Amiguitos is feeding children every day so that they will learn and grow.  In addition, every day children receive help with their homework in our Amiguitos center (or attend the Amiguitos center as their school if they are unable to attend public school).  To sponsor a child, simply make a $160 donation (checks to "Amiguitos" sent to Amiguitos, 228 S Jefferson Ave, Louisville CO 80027 or click the big yellow "DONATE" button and use a credit card online).  We will assign you a child and contact you each term to renew your sponsorship.

We collect for school terms each January, May and September (or some sponsors find it easier to have their bank automatically send funds/ or have Amiguitos charge their credit card each month).  Email us at info@amiguitos.net if you want us to  help set up automatic payments.

$40/month is too much?  You may sponsor a child's food ($25/month) or tuition to the homework program ($15/month) and we will find another donor to pick up the remaining amount

8.  Clothing Bank

Clothing, especially used shoes and new underwear, is collected for the  neighborhood residents.  Individuals participating on Amiguitos trips  will often leave the clothing they brought to wear during the project for the clothing bank.  As each flight to Veracruz allows passengers to check two 50 lb bags, we ask participants to limit personal items to one bag and carry a second bag of clothing or other supplies (school supplies, other non-medical supplies) when coming to the work project.  Amiguitos  supporters in the USA who are unable to make the work trips  often collect supplies for their friends to take with them.

9. Community Based Projects

A nominal fee of 50 cents is charged per family for residents to attend Amiguitos June and December medical clinics.  This fee is equal to the price of the paper used to wrap tortillas or a single segment of a bus ride for one adult.  These nominal fees are pooled to be used to create community development funds which the residents  use for projects approved by thier leadership.  For example, the teens are starting a bakery.  Half of the monies are used within the community and half are used to help others outside of the neighborhood.

10. Hope

All of these ongoing efforts in the vulnerable areas of Veracruz (especially the efforts by Goldi and the visits of Amiguitos) give residents hope for the future of their children.  All those who participate from outside of Veracruz find their lives improved by the interaction with these people of joy and faith.  Weekly worship services are open to all in the neighborhood (but not required).  Children can be seen giving portions of their own meager earnings for the benefit of the community.  What these children do in the future and what the children who visit Veracruz do with their own lives in response to what they encounter here will be fascinating to witness.  Be assured that many additional projects will be undertaken that have not yet even been imagined.