After a two month awesome journey of traveling along the west coast of California and then down to Arizona to speak to students at universities about Life Out of the Box, it was time for us to head back to Mexico. We had received so much support from people all over the United States that we had to give away more school supplies for the amount of LOOTB bracelets we were selling, so we decided to distribute school supplies to children in the Mexican border town of Nogales.
We wanted to give away school supply packets to hundreds of kids and knew that we needed help in order to make this happen, so we brought JB’s younger sisters Caira and Sonja along with us. We packed the school supplies into four large suitcases and then all hopped into the car for a fun drive down from Tempe, AZ to the Nogales border.
As we approached the border, we noticed the massive wall structure that prevented people from crossing without permission. It was an obvious symbol of the serious situation that border control manages every day. We figured that both going in and out of Mexico was going to take a bit of explanation.
However, when we entered the border from Arizona in to Mexico with our suitcases stuffed with school supplies we were shocked to discover that there was no need to present any documentation at all. In fact, there wasn’t even a guard of any sort on the Mexico side of the border. We just waltzed right in without having to speak to anyone and headed out on our mission to distribute school supplies to the kids of Nogales.
We sat down on a bench to settle down, organize and take in the fact that we were now in a different country. That was hands down the easiest border crossing any of us had ever experienced (see our crazy experiences in Costa Rica, Nicaragua & Guatemala). A sense of relief came over me though as we entered Mexico–I was instantly comforted by being back in this culture. The street food smells, the loud sounds of chicken buses starting up and everyone speaking Spanish around me actually felt like we were right back where we started and it felt great.
As we organized our suitcases of notebooks and other supplies, a young boy came up to us and asked if we would purchase chicle (chewing gum). We smiled and introduced ourselves to him and his mother who was sitting on the ground behind him with more snacks for sale. We asked if we could, instead of buy gum from him, give him school supplies. He looked behind him to check with his mother who smiled and happily nodded.
The cute boy told us that his name is was Cesar, he was 5 years old and that he wants to be a professional soccer player when he grows up. We asked him what his favorite subject in school was, but his mother quickly explained that they could not afford to send him to school because she needed his help to provide for the family. It was a sad reality for all of us to take in right away, but we went on to explain to both of them that the notebook and pencils could be used for anything to help Cesar develop his own skills so that he can become the person he wants to be.
Both Cesar and his mom smiled, thanked us and then went back to where they were sitting. The boy instantly opened up the notebook and started drawing. We looked back and waved goodbye. It was beautiful. At that moment we were all assured that what we were doing was something special and bigger than us. It was the perfect way to start off the day in Mexico.
We were excited to explore Nogales and find other children around this dusty town that could benefit from receiving LOOTB school supplies.