Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Beyond the Jungle

There is more to Selvatica than just fun in the Jungle! I would like to take this opportunity to share with you the Selvatica Foundation and how Selvatica staff members and their families give their time and energy to the community. As a reader please keep in mind that in many other countries, such as the United States and Canada, organizations receive funding and assistance from their respective government agency. Here in Mexico this is not the case, that is why it is so important what the Selvatica Foundation does. A big thanks to the staff and people who make these things possible.   
Guido Benassini, CEO of Selvatica shared this:
"At Selvatica, we believe that opportunities should be equal to all; our business model is based on maximizing the best qualities each and every one of our citizens (staff) have within, thus creating a team of individuals striving for excellence both personally and collectively; we believe in giving back to society by helping create opportunities.

 Unfortunately opportunities are not always equal; there are those that by simple chance were not as lucky as we were, not living in a dignified home, without the privilege of education, healthy meals, or a bright future; and none of this was by choice but by chance;

 Think about this for a moment, what if Steve Jobs would have been born in Tanzania into an impoverished family? Would he have been able to accomplish as much as he did? Perhaps, perhaps not, however what is certain is that he would have had the same potential within.

We believe each individual has the power to become the best version of themselves; in pursuit of making a difference, a percentage of all Selvatica revenues (tickets, and all products sold), goes into our foundation which is devoted to giving opportunities to those wanting to change their circumstances, and looking for an opportunity."

If you would like to see the Facebook page and give it a "Like" follow this link: Selvatica Foundation Note: This page is mostly in Spanish, however; if you would like to leave a comment or get involved, English is ok! Also feel free to contact me as well.

Before Renovations Began
Guido Benassini said, "We found an amazing woman named Sonia, who lives in the region of “Bonfil” a few blocks from Cancun’s glamorous hotel zone, yet a world apart, in this area of town, public schools are overpopulated, and where poverty seems like a certain future. Sonia has been offering her humble home as “school” for kids of all ages that want to learn and change their immediate future for over 5 years. She began with less than 7 kids, and now La Escuelita has over 90 “students” ages 3 to 17 that all go for a few hours to learn from her.
 The Selvatica Foundation, decided to help give the students some dignity, in December 2010, a group of volunteers with our families started working on Sonia’s home, adding a much needed bathroom, plus a roof, paintjob, stools, benches and electricity.
 Results were amazing, students, couldn’t believe the change, and to this day, it is them, who take care of their premises, they feel proud of their school, and we managed to give them dignity!! Occupancy on the school rose from 60 to 90 students.
 Soon after the school’s revamp, we started to monitor some poor performance on behalf of some children, and after some investigation we noticed that they had not eaten anything for over 20 hours or more sometimes, and needless to say this caused lack of attention; it was then that we decided that we would supply all students a balanced breakfast, based on milk, cereal, fruit and bread to all students on a daily basis.
 We also found some truly shocking stories, for instance, we noticed that a beautiful pair of twins never came together, only one per day, we eventually found out that they had only one pair of shoes for both, and that they shared them, so they could both benefit from schooling, however only one could use the shoes per day!!! Needless to say both twins have shoes now…however, sadly, stories like these are not uncommon, since there is a great need both affectively and economic.
 Small changes can mean BIG differences."

After photos of the front of the house.

A group from the House of Hope visit Selvatica
Casa Esperanza, which translates to House of Hope, is a facility that provides a place for children who have either been abandoned or are victims of violence. The Selvatica Foundation accepts and delivers donations such as food, clothing and education materials. Selvatica also invites these children to the park for a fun day of fellowship with their “big brothers and sisters” as well as taking them on a tour that otherwise they wouldn’t get to experience. They are an amazing bunch of kids and we only wish them the best future possible.

Group Photo Before the Race

Another great event that I was able to take part in was the Akumal Breast Cancer Run that took place in October of 2010. Local businesses donated prizes for the top three men and women finishing the race. Most importantly we were able to raise a significant amount of money for a specific woman in the community fighting breast cancer. This was the best activity that I could have been involved with since my aunt is a breast cancer survivor. 

Here in Cancun there is a mission called Huellas de Pan, which translates to Traces of Bread. This organization helps to provide food to people that do not have the sufficient means to provide for themselves. As stated on their website HuellasdePan.org, their "focus is giving to vulnerable groups such as members of broken homes, victims of domestic violence, people with disabilities children at risk and the elderly". One owner of Selvatica, who also owns a restaurant called Tinto, donates food twice a week to support this organization. 

In September of 2010 a group of volunteers and Selvatica staff gathered together with a group of children battling cancer to liberate baby turtles to the ocean. What an amazing experience!  

Volunteers Hard at Work
In the United States and Canada it's common that senior citizens can receive assistance from the government. Here in Mexico it is very difficult to provide care for the elderly and the disabled due to the fact that programs like social security do not exist. There is a very kind lady by the name of Mercedes that every Monday invites a group of senior citizens into her home. For more than five years now she has been able to offer them help them with medications, food and recreation. Some members of the Selvatica family gave their time to restore the home to ensure a nice space for these wonderful people. But it doesn't stop there. Staff members will on occasion make visits to the home to partake in games, food, and entertain the folks that gather at Mercedes' house. 

Whether you are an animal lover or not, it is easy to understand the importance of sterilization of cats and dogs. For the month of October in 2010 staff members volunteered their time to assist in the care of these animals. 

While the animals were comfortably sleeping, the team of care givers and volunteers took the opportunity to offer basic grooming.

Trees are one of the most precious things to us as Citizens of the Jungle! In the fall of 2010 we joined forces and planted some baby trees in Kabah Park. Recently Selvatica has begun the Seed of Life campaign. This campaign has had a tremendous effect on our guests. When you visit Selvatica a seed of a tree is planted in your name thus helping us make a difference as well as bear witness of your legacy to the jungle.
I encourage you to check out the Facebook pages and become part of our ever increasing jungle family!

Also check out the post The Fight to Save Selvatica, the story that "sparks" the idea for this campaign.

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