Group of volunteers walking from behind

Voices of Impact: Testimonials from Our Volunteers

Yucatán Kids logo Yucatán Kids Aug 11, 2023

“Thank you very much, the kids are excited because thanks to their English classes, they understand everything.”

- Yuly Chapur

“Volunteering at CAIMEDE was truly one of the most powerful experiences I have ever had. Thank you for trusting me and being confident in me to work with the kids and with Maestro Saulo. I can 100% say that I have learned so much more from all of them than they’ll ever realize. I might even pursue family law after this experience!”

- M.K.

"Helping Yucatan Kids is an experience that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Before he passed away, my father always talked about how important it is to help children in need. It was a dream of his to make that into a reality. He and his brothers and sisters grew up in Mexico City where they did not always have the help that a child needs. In our world today, it grows increasingly more useful for people to be able to speak both Spanish and English. I am grateful for being given the chance to help the preschool classes at CAIMEDE. The volunteers teach valuable skills that will take them to even greater opportunities in the future. It is an immense honor for me to have contributed and I cannot wait to see where this young generation will go from here."

- Jacob

“My name is Barbara and since last October I’ve been a volunteer at YucatanKids, spending several hours a week introducing very young children to the English language. I met Jane Mallonee, the mastermind of Yucatan Kids, through a mutual friend who correctly thought I could be doing something more productive than endlessly basking in the free time of retirement. The few hours a week I spend at Caimede, the Yucatan state orphanage in Merida, may be productive, but more compellingly, they are joyful. Caimede is a large institution doing the demanding work of caring for and essentially raising around 200 children, from as young as infancy through high school.

Each of these children is without family for highly individualized yet universally tragic reasons. Without familial resources their long-term prospects for eventual self-sufficiency, let alone advanced education, are bleak. As I learned from my years working for a child advocacy nonprofit in New York City, “aging out” of care represents a dangerous transition to adulthood from a childhood that has been at best less than optimal, at worst damagingly traumatic. Yucatan Kids addresses the reality that preparing for that transition with even a casual knowledge of English will improve a child’s long-term chances of finding work, and thus independence, particularly in Merida’s growing tourist, transportation, and services industries. So, with never quite enough volunteers, English is offered from the “maternal” (3 and 4 year old level) to the high school level.

I work with the Maternal group for a few hours a week. I sit with these little ones who do coloring (some learning for the first time how to put crayon to paper) and solve puzzles, and page through picture books while listening to us volunteers chat in English. The kids who are almost by definition especially vulnerable, light up at this sustained individual attention. We volunteers are encouraging, affirming, patient at their reluctance to say words in English, and elated when they reveal, sometimes accidentally, that they actually understand quite a bit. For their part these youngsters are by turns energetic, distracted, mischievous, curious, and always managing to evoke those very distant childhood memories of discovery and possibility. How lucky we are to exchange these joyful gifts!”

- Barbara