Author Archives: Clare McBrien

International Volunteer Day – why do our volunteers do it?

To celebrate International Volunteer Day we at Misión Mexico decided to celebrate our volunteers by asking them why they do it. First up we asked Clare McBrien!!

Volunteering – a necessary evil?

ImageIn today’s economic climate working for free or ‘volunteering’ is often seen as a necessary evil; something that gives us a foot up onto the career ladder. Indeed, its CV enhancing potential should not be dismissed. Volunteering not only offers us a platform on which to exhibit our knowledge, skills and interests to those we want to employ us, but helps us gain new skills and experience, to network with like-minded people and to engage with a community we are interested in. It is a means to an end – if we are lucky, a lucrative one.

But what if we decided to let go of our 10 year career plans for just a moment and consider volunteering differently? What if we conceive the voluntary giving of our time and expertise to each other as the end goal, and the way we make money as a means of getting there?  Having volunteered in several different capacities over the last 8 years, I believe that the sharing of our skills with one another is a basic human need both for those who give and those who receive.

So what’s the big deal about volunteering? Rather than state the obvious benefits volunteering brings to organisations with minimal funds and to the vulnerable in society, or give you a list of the pros and cons which you can explore here in the Guardian’s volunteering website, I will share what volunteering means to me personally.

Firstly, yes, the experiences I have had as a volunteer boosted my career opportunities. In my late teens I developed leadership, organisation and management skills working in cross-community projects in Belfast.  In my early twenties I practised patience, resilience and creativity when teaching 10 nine-year-old boys maths in Spanish in Peru. Now, as a communications volunteer for Misión Mexico I am able to do something I love – write.

However, the real benefit of my volunteering experiences is that they have challenged everything I know, everything I believe and everything I am.  They shattered and continue to shape my ideologies, my belief systems and my political views. They underpin my career choices, my friendships and my identity and I feel immensely grateful to have been in a position to be able to volunteer. In fact, rather than being an inconvenient necessity, I believe it to be an immense privilege and I am yet to find someone who volunteers their time to a cause, organisation, or person they care about who would disagree.

So if you haven’t had the opportunity to volunteer already, my advice is to do it. The free sharing of knowledge, time and resources to support and provide for each other is the cornerstone of humanity. You will not regret it!

Russell Brand: the new Emiliano Zapata?

The often romanticised notion of ‘revolution’ has been dragged into our 21st Century vernacular by Russell Brand’s controversial interview with Jeremy Paxman when he cited massive economic disparity, the apathy shown by an under-served under-class and the treachery and deceit of self–sustaining political and corporate elites as reasons why we will soon see a revolution here in the UK and maybe even globally.

Parallells with the Mexican revolution

Whether he is talking about a revolution of ideas or violent uprisings such as we have seen in China, Cuba and Mexico over the centuries is unclear. However, the socio-economic climate which we now face isn’t too far removed from Mexico at the turn of the century when Pancho Villa and Emiliano Zapata lead the Mexican Revolution.

In fact, some very clear parallels can be made when we look at the history of the Mexican Revolution and the disruptive forces of industrialisation, political corruption and power imbalance that characterised its inception.

Porfirio Diaz’s  focus on industrialisation placed Mexico at the forefront of production and commerce in the 1900s. However, as is repeated throughout history, such illustrious developments and advancements in Mexico City and the state of Morelos, left many parts of the country wanting, with free labouring of the fields controlled by powerful land-owners, purely preoccupied with profit, margins and mass-production. Not too far removed from what we see all over the word today.

Zapata w-rifle

Emiliano Zapata

Not unlike Brand’s ‘under-served under-class’ the people of Mexico were sick of the corruption, nepotism and the rigging of votes. Driven by his belief that the people of Mexico (specifically the marginalised, poor field-labourers) were the victims of an archaic system that did not represent the lower classes (sound familiar?), Pancho Villa, originating from the Northern state of Durango, lead the Villistas into many battles including the attack  in 1911, which led to the defeat of President Díaz. His compadre, Emiliano Zapata, launched the Zapatista movement which is still active in parts to this day, primarily in the region of Chiapas.

The similarities don’t end there. Much like Russell who is unwilling in the interview to ‘devise a global utopian system’ neither Villa nor Zapata had any real ambition to take up the post of president which perhaps diminished the revolution’s socio-economic potential. The jury is still out on whether Mexico remains corrupt as it once was but it cannot be denied that its economy and education have gone from strength to strength and there is a strong sense that it is a country trying to rid itself of past bad habits.

One very important difference (we hope) between these Mexican heroes and our very own modern day revolutionary is that Villa and Zapata used violence and united working class men from their respective regions to overthrow the government in a coup. While many of us may also feel Brands ‘absolute indifference and weariness and exhaustion’ with our current political system, let’s hope the modern day revolution he predicts brings about change in a gentler way.

Mision Mexico Moustache Party

So with revolution back in fashion, we are taking this opportunity to celebrate the Mexican Revolution and all it has achieved for the people of Mexico by inviting you to our Moustache Party, this Friday 22nd of November. Come down to our party this Friday and you can bid for prizes, such as a dinner at Hawksmoor for two, a holiday in Mexico, event tickets and more, with all proceeds going straight to the children of Tapachula, under the care of Alan and Pam Skuse. With the proceeds raised we will help them gain an education, a home and a new start to a previously troubled life.

Hasta entonces!

Moustach Party

Misión Mexico Trustees: why do they do it?

Welcome to Mision Mexico’s very first blog post! A space for information, discussion and debate around the wide range of themes and topics at the heart our mission to provide refuge and hope to orphaned, abandoned, abused and disadvantaged children by giving them a home, family, love, education and opportunities, in Tapachula Mexico. We hope you will join and help us explore themes such as education, surfing, fundraising, volunteering, health, Mexican culture and many more.  Please comment on what we write, share information and knowledge with us, and let us know if we can support your cause.

This week, inspired by Trustees week last week, we tackle the theme of Trusteeship.

During Trustees week, many of us asked questions such as: What do trustees do? Who are they? Why do they do it? How do I become one? These are important questions for charities of all shapes and sizes but perhaps even more so for the smaller ones among us; for those of us whose very existence relies on the expertise, knowledge and skills of extremely qualified individuals who take charge, not only the day to day running of our organisation, but take responsibility for its strategic direction. We expect them to act as CEOs, marketing directors, human resource managers, finance departments, fundraisers, spokespersons, writers, and public speakers, for free, in their spare time, on top of demanding careers and unforgiving workloads.  It can be challenging and frustrating as well as rewarding. So why do they do it? We asked three of our Trustees at Misión México.


Maurizio‘I joined MM in November 2011 and since then it has been an amazing journey with the UK team and the people in Mexico. What Pam and Alan have managed to do with the kids is more than just beautiful, it’s a daily inspiration and a reason to work hard to keep our kids’ dreams alive and give them the chance to do their best in life. I can’t imagine anything better than that.’



katie 2Katie:  ‘I first got involved with Misión México when the UK team was initially set up to help create awareness and raise funds to be sent back to Tapachula. Initially, my role was to dabble with the marketing side of the things and help out on a few events – but the more I heard about these incredible kids, the more I got involved until, before I knew it, I was a trustee!

I love being involved with this amazing group of people and doing my small bit to support Pam & Alan in giving these kids a second chance at a childhood and all the things that they deserve. Plus, I love rocking out in the old sombrero!’



Laura‘Being a Trustee of Misión México has been a gratifying experience! I get to share my expertise and at the same time learn something new every day. I’m truly inspired and motivated by Pam and Alan’s work with the children in Mexico.’



Deborah, founder of Misión México UK and chair of the board, has very unique reasons taking on the role of trustee.

Deborah‘Having volunteered for the orphanage since 2006 in a fundraising and administrative capacity whilst living in Australia, I decided to set up the charity here in the UK so I could continue the work I’d been doing.

It’s definitely a challenge in the UK and it isn’t the same market as in Australia. Over there, there was a core group of people who knew about it, but here it has involved starting everything from scratch, but we’ve met a lot of people who are now donors and volunteers in the UK.’

As shown by many discussions held last week, the reasons for becoming a trustee of a charity vary.  Here at Misión México we are united by our inspiration taken from an Australian couple who left home to become parents to over 50 children, we are passionate about bringing love, life and hope to these children, and we love using our talents and experience to support them.

Deborah echo’s all our thoughts when she says,

‘Our Trustees are fantastic and very dedicated to the cause. Because we are so small and volunteer-led, everyone is very hands-on and that is fantastic. We couldn’t operate without them.’

If you have been inspired by Trustees week and are interested joining our UK Board as a Fundraising Expert do get in touch with us: