Today is #GivingTuesday so I wanted to share a story about a young man I met last year at Ninos De La Promesa orphanage in Playas De Tijuana. I'm a little hesitant to tell the story because like most people I feel personal giving is more of a private matter, but the lessons I've learned from these children I think make it worth sharing.
The Tijuana Children's home is run by Tyler and Connie Youngskin, a couple that has been taking care of abused and neglected children from Tijuana's red light district since 2001. The Youngkin's operate the orphanage out of a converted hotel in Playas De Tijuana, and it happens to be ocean front, right next to a really good surf spot.
Last year a friend and I were traveling the Baja coast looking for surf and we saw the orphanage. We were curious so we stopped by to see if there was anything we could do to help, honestly I was a little apprehensive, I wasn't sure if we would be welcomed, but my apprehension was short lived as I was greeted by the manager and introduced to 20 or so smiling faces ranging in age from 6-16 years old.
You would never know by talking to these kids that they endured so much pain in their short lives, they were smiling, curious, friendly and you could just feel the love. I spoke in my broken Spanish and instantly felt a connection and knew this would be a place I would be returning.
Over the last 18 months I've spent quite a bit of time there. And using money from PuraKai's 1% For the Planet give back we were able to complete several projects, including replacing the wood on the half pipe, and donating ten used surfboards and ten new skateboards.
One of the boys I met, Jorge Cruz, was really into skateboarding so we would hang out and talk about skateboarding. One day we were talking and he told me he really wanted to be an artist. He took me around and showed me several drawings he made that were hung in the common areas of the home. They were amazing. So we came up with the idea of having him create some graphics for PuraKai, and the aspiring artist had his first client.
When the other children found out that Jorge was getting paid for creating art this quickly got the wheels spinning in the minds of the other children, they were wondering how they too could be entrepreneurs. And we spoke about what they wanted to do and how they could make it happen. What I learned from this experience is that giving is great, but helping someone develop a skill and turning it into a livelihood is even better. We're now focused on how to help these kids develop skills which translate into making a living.
If you'd like to check out Jorge's artwork you can view it here: Jorge Cruz PuraKai Designs.
We donate $5 from the sale of these shirts to The Tijuana Children's Home. The money goes directly to the children for their basic needs. And if you'd like to donate directly you can visit their web site at: The Tijuana Children's Home.
If you'd like to visit the orphanage just send an e-mail to noel (at) purakai.com and I can schedule a time to take you down there to meet the kids, but be forewarned, while you most definitely will be able to help change the lives of these children, they just might end up changing yours.