With her Hispanic heritage, Rose Mary Skinner is passionate about helping those in Acambay region of central Mexico in the community of La Rincon, to be independent and successful. When she heard about the ASEA® Advancing Life Foundation’s first expedition to Mexico, she was excited to be working side –by side with locals to improve their lives. The foundation hosts service expeditions every year to aid those in need. Rose Mary has been to both Mexico and Ecuador to aid in the effort.
Learning With the Locals
Expeditioners learn the building methods that the locals will use in maintaining their new projects. This is important because when volunteers leave and if something breaks the villagers can fix things with their newfound skills. They do not have the same tools and methods that a first-world country has and so volunteers and locals learn new skills together.
“I appreciate that the locals learn the skills as we are learning them,” says Rose Mary. “I witnessed how this helps them invest in the project as their own and carry it forward after volunteers leave. There were women with their babies wrapped around their waists working harder than us, and it motivated me to work even harder for them.”
Miracles in Mexico
Rose Mary says that she has never been so inspired in her life, despite the difficulty of her first expedition with hard labor. During this expedition, the volunteers were involved in every area of the project, from building ovens, cleaning toilets, doing dishes, and hauling bricks. Most importantly, Rose Mary spent a good portion of her time translating between the locals and other volunteers.
“I wanted to make sure I was helping in every way I could,” says Rose Mary, “Translating the language helped people feel at ease because I could make jokes and help the volunteers feel heard and the locals feel seen.”
She loved being able to dance and sing with the natives and help the children with a piñata during a celebration dinner for the locals and volunteers. She was moved that they allowed volunteers to stay in their homes, even giving up their beds, so she had a place to sleep. Her favorite moments included seeing the emotional impact of those who benefitted from the mission.
Advancing Life in Ecuador
“In Ecuador, we went to visit some local homes,” she remembers. “There was a very old lady who grabbed hold of us and was crying like a child. She was so humble and grateful for the work we were doing for their village. She didn’t want us to leave. We eventually had to get back to work, and as we left, we walked along the river and wept together. Seeing how our work impacted their lives really changed us.”
At one point, the volunteers had to stop for a few minutes because they were waiting for more brickmaking supplies to carry on the work. A native woman was so worried that the repairs in her village would cease that she took Rose Mary by the hand and guided her to a field where there was more sand for brickmaking.
“She was so determined. She started digging the sand with her bare hands, and they were almost bleeding,” recalls Rose Mary. “She was worried that we were going to give up and go home. She looked at me with such earnestness that I said to my volunteer partner, ‘We cannot quit. If she doesn’t quit, we won’t quit.’ We were filthy, with sweat in our hair, but I’ve never felt more glamorous because I was doing something so pure and helpful to others.”
Helping others doesn’t necessarily require big actions and big donations. As Rose Mary has learned that it is the little things that we do and the small donations that are given that can change the world for others. You don’t have to go on an expedition to make a difference, join us today by donating to the ASEA Advancing Life Foundation at advancinglife.org.