Category Archives: Volunteering

Volunteer Manager position filled!

We have found a Volunteer Manager to support our Volunteer Program in Tapachula, Mexico.

The main purpose of the Volunteer Manager is to ensure that an adequate supply of volunteers are available to meet the needs of Misión México and to manage and co-ordinate the volunteers in Tapachula.

The role is immensely important, both at the ground level in the day to day work of the refuge, and to the greater vision for Misión México. We have found an individual that acknowledges and practices these values and who can identify and follow through with the continual improvement and development of volunteer work with Misión México.

Jacob and Marli in 2013

Volunteer Jacob and Marli in 2013

Treasurer sought for UK Charity Board of Trustees

We are looking for a skilled financier/accountant to act as our Treasurer for Misión México  (UK) to join our excellent Board of Trustees.

Our Board is spread across the UK, and meet up four times a year in London. This would be the  minimum commitment we would require although you can be as proactive as
you want to be. We also have monthly conference calls via Skype.

Who are we looking for?
As a financial specialist, your responsibilities would include (but not be limited to)
maintaining an overview of Misión México (UK)’s accounts,  preparing our end of year reports, completing quarterly analysis, and ensuring we are complying with our accounting and
financial regulatory requirements.

If you are interested in joining us and would like to know more, please email us at

Our new Mision Mexico Surf Board

Our new Mision Mexico Surf Board

board meeting June 2013

board meeting June 2013

We need you!!!


We urgently need volunteers to come to Misión México and help our kids. We have recently taken several new children into our home and we need energetic, enthusiastic people on deck to act as mentors, friends and teachers to our kids…and of course, to have fun while you’re doing it!

As those of you who have volunteered with us before will know, time at Misión México is not a holiday, however it is incredibly rewarding and you will walk away from the place with the satisfaction that you have made a difference in the lives of these wonderful children.

We would love to see your smiling face in Tapachula again. And this time, why not share the experience with a friend?

As well as needing volunteers to help us out generally, we are currently looking for:

Youth Transition Workers – to act as role models, mentors and supervisors for our young adults as they transition to an independent lifestyle in our male and female transition houses.

Homeschool Teacher– to work with our daughter, Brooke Skuse, to homeschool some of our children who find it difficult to learn in the mainstream education system.

Both roles are a minimum of 6-12 months with living expenses covered.

If you, or someone you know, would like to volunteer with us in Tapachula or share your skills locally to fundraise for our Misión México family please contact
Come and be part of our family and help keep our beautiful children smiling!

Look what we made

Look what we made

brotherly learning

With warm regards,
Pam and Alan Skuse

Why volunteer at Misión México? Why not?

My name is Merric and this is my fourth visit to Misión México.

Misión México is an inspiration to me. I first visited in 2004 and I have known many of the young adults since they were young children.

They have been able to develop skills and knowledge through education, the commitment of Pam and Alan and the many volunteers who come to share their professional knowledge and skills.

It is great to see opportunities opened up for them so their hopes and dreams can become a reality.

Coming back on each visit and seeing the developments and accomplishments of the children is a humbling and joyful experience. I have had the privilege to share my skills in piano with some of the kids, Sammy, in particular has shown great learning ability in the practice of the piano.

Sammy has a keen interest in piano and watching him develop so quickly and take on board what I have to teach him has been greatly inspiring.

Pam y Sammy

Mama with Sammy

I am currently visiting to assist in the landscaping of a new educational and surf training facility, MisiónSurf. I am thrilled to be involved with such a major project that will bring much needed jobs, educational opportunities and tourism to the Tapachula area.

This will allow the children to put into practice the skills and knowledge gained through their education.

Mision Surf landscaping begins

I feel privileged to be able to share the skills and abilities I have gained through my life and to be able to share in the lives of these amazing individuals as they grow.

For volunteering opportunities please email and visit our website for more information.

Community development through tourism at Misión México

Junior and Meche

The 27th September is World Tourism Day and this year the theme is Tourism and Community Development, focusing on the ability of tourism to empower people and provide them with skills to achieve change in their local communities. The official celebrations are taking place in Guadalajara, Mexico in a day dedicated to different understanding the value of different forms of tourism, whether it be volun-tourism, eco-tourism, agri-tourism or adventure tourism.

At Misión México we have seen first hand the huge benefits alternative types of tourism can bring. Pam and Alan and the children have been truly empowered by people who choose to volunteer with us. From teachers, to engineers, builders, to surf instructors, each and every one of them have contributed towards Misión México’s education program, surf program, work training program and youth transition program. Each of them is specifically designed to improve the lives of each and every child, and in turn contribute towards achieving change in the local community.


Of course the benefits of volun-tourism also extends to the volunteers themselves; our previous volunteers have described their time with us as ‘the most amazing experience of my life’ ‘incredibly rewarding’ ‘truly inspirational’ and ‘a life enriching experience’.



Jacob and Marli in 2013

Our firm belief in the power of tourism underpins the thinking behind our work training program, Misión Surf. This project aims to build a sustainable surfing community, complete with a Surf School, Surf Camp and Retail Shop, Surfboard Repair Workshop, Life Guard Services and a Restaurant. Not only will it become a top tourist destination for new surfers, it will benefit the lives of the children and bring change to the local community.


It will provide exciting tourism opportunities for those who visit the complex  – our waves and location provide the ideal opportunity for surf lessons – and our burritos will be the best in town.  Our complex will include football, netball and a skate park as well as a pool and cafe to relax in!

Mision Surf

Misión Surf will provide the older children with the opportunity to develop important work skills like hospitality, tourism, business and retail. It will share the excitement of surfing with the local Mexican community by teaching them surf skills, sea safety and the importance of our environment, particularly around beaches and oceans.

By sharing knowledge on surfing techniques, conditions, awareness, safety and environmental issues with the local community it will lead cleaner, safer, friendlier beaches as well as bringing more business to the local impoverished areas. And the icing on the cake? This program will eventually lead to Albergue Misión México becoming self-sufficient.

We are inviting local and international professionals and tradesmen to volunteer and share their knowledge and expertise with the refuge’s young adults in what promises to be a challenging and rewarding experience.

Maria surfing

Maria surfing

Thanks to the amazing support from Guzman y Gomez in Australia, Compound Boardshop in Florida and the Norm Innes Foundation in Queensland, as well as many other fundraisers and donors we are on our way to completing this program.

We are hoping to open the doors in 2015! More support is needed to complete the project  – if you want to get involved please visit our website, contact us or donate here.

We’d be stoked to have you part of our program and look forward to welcoming you to visit us at Misión Surf.

Teacher’s aide needed in Tapachula

reading in English

Ali reading in English

Education is one of our key priorities.

The new school year is starting soon with all the children enrolled for the coming year, that is, all except five children who have learning difficulties.

Some of these children have been in school for a year now and still can’t read. Our daughter Brooke Skuse is taking on the responsibility of homeschooling five of our Mision Mexico  children plus her own two children.

Learning at home with mama

Learning at home with mama


new balance 849




Therefore, we need help. We are looking for a teacher’s aide for primary level to volunteer with us long term,  minimum of 12months. We can guarantee it will be a challenge, but also rewarding. Accommodation and food supplied.

Please email if you are interested in this once in a lifetime opportunity and would like more information. 

“Nine tenths of education is encouragement.” Anatole France

Quique learning at home

Builder required to complete the Misión Surf building!

house up

Misión Surf becoming a reality

We are building a new surf school and complex here in Tapachula, that will equip our refuge’s older children with valuable work skills as well as help the home they grew up in, Albergue Misión México, to become self-sufficient.

We need YOUR help!
new balance 801 mens
We are looking for an experienced individual in the building trade to come and spend 3 to 6 months with us at Misión México to help finish the Misión Surf building. This is an opportunity of a lifetime for a truly rewarding experience.

We are willing to offer accommodation and a missionary salary to whoever takes on this position. This person must have leadership qualities and an enthusiastic spirit. For more information and to apply for the position please contact

OUr work training project getting built

How to survive as a small charity in the UK

The UK is often held up as a very generous nation. The UK was announced the sixth most charitable nation in the World Giving Index 2013 published by the Charity Aid Foundation.

It isn’t surprising, therefore, that small charities have popped up all over the country with the tenacity of a garden weed. Of course, rather than being a scourge on our landscape, they are often the very fabric that hold our communities together and have affected individual lives profoundly. The UK’s Small Charity Week, is an opportunity to reflect on the challenges these small charities face and to ask ourselves how they ensure their work is recognised and understood.

The Misión México UK team, headed up by Deborah Grossman, supported by five Trustees, and a trusted team of volunteers, set up Misión México UK in 2012 to raise awareness of the refuge in Tapachula and support the programmes run for the children; namely the Education Programme, Surf Programme, Working Training Programme and Youth Transition Programme.  Here are some of the things we have learned so far.

board meeting June 2013

board meeting June 2013

Don’t try to compete with the ‘big boys’

Misión México is different to the bigger charities who support children. We stand for the same issues (education, empowering young girls and women, reducing poverty, supporting the recovery of children who have suffered physical and emotional abuse), but the Misión México vision and our purpose is unique to us. Furthermore, we simply do not have the same resources as the bigger organisations. We therefore, do not try to compete with larger charities for attention or space. We tailor our fundraising activities to our vision and the resources at our disposal. We share the Misión Mexico story amongst and through our colleagues, friends and family. We ask them to tell our balance toddler

Investing in volunteers

Misión México, like many small charities, would simply not exist without the time, expertise and support given to us by our volunteers. Whether this be helping us to run the Misión México website, holding fundraising events, taking photos and making videos for us, or whether it be going to Mexico to teach music, to help the children with homework, to spend time surfing, we rely on people giving us their time. We are constantly trying to improve our mechanisms for recruiting volunteers and ensuring that we are investing in them and supporting them in their own development when we can. We truly believe that you should invest in your volunteers.

Volunteers helping out at Mexican Independence Day celebrations 2031 in London

Volunteers helping out at Mexican Independence Day celebrations 2031 in London

Making your story relevant

Misión México faces a big challenge of making our story relevant in the UK. We are small, and the reason we exist is to support children in Mexico. Making our story relevant to people here has been a challenge. However, some things in life cross boundaries. The suffering of children is one of these. No matter who you are or where you live, we all believe in taking care of children. Therefore by sharing our children’s stories and showing that there are some things all children have in common, we are building trust and gaining traction in the UK.

Learning from, and sharing with, small charities

We have learned a great deal from other incredible charities such as New Life Mexico and International Refugee Trust who have a similar set up to ourselves. We would like to collaborate more with other small charities to network, share ideas, and support each other. Often small charities perceive themselves as being in competition with each other for people’s attention, time, and money but we believe that more can be gained through sharing learning and resources and through collaboration. We have found the networking opportunities afforded to us by Network of International Development Organisations in Scotland (NIDOS), the Institute of Funding and the Foundation for Social Improvement (FSI) very useful.

Understanding your impact

Cristian, Alex y Jennifer

Cristian, Alex y Jennifer

Understanding the difference you are making is vital for small charities and yet is notoriously difficult. Often collecting robust statistical data is just not possible and so we are often left wondering what impact our work is having. We at Misión México are very lucky to be able to see the effect our work is having on the children we support every day. For us, the most effective means of showing those who support us just what their time and money is contributing towards, is by telling stories. We ask the children at the refuge what their life is like at the refuge, how things have changed, what their dreams are, what their passions are. This allows our audience to build a type of relationship with them and thus see what a difference we are making. Our children are writing their own blog posts now and sharing their lives with us on Facebook.

While the past two years has been full of challenges and we are very proud of how much we have learned so far. It is our hope that we will be able to continue to learn from and work alongside other small charities to ensure we are can continue to help the most vulnerable in our society.

Debs, Marli, Marie Ester, Junior, Jennifer & Pam

Debs, Marli, Marie Ester, Junior, Jennifer & Pam

Where to volunteer? A special report for Small Charity week

Each year, hundreds of thousands of people travel across the globe to volunteer abroad. Although it’s an activity that is usually associated with students or as a stop-gap between jobs, it’s an activity you can easily adapt to your way of life, with placements lasting between 2-3 weeks to months at a time.

With Small Charity Week fast approaching, it’s a good time to focus on smaller organisations that are looking to make a change in the world, one step at a time. Although bigger charities may well give you more scope in terms of work experience, in the form of office-based work for example, one of the greatest pulls of smaller charities is the chance to get to grips with their activities, from the ground up.

First things first, when looking for a small charity to work with, you should check out the organisation, how and where it was set up, who is in charge and what their mission is. Time and time again, students feel underwhelmed by a charity’s daily activities and their placements as they didn’t put enough research into finding the project they would most like to work on.

You should also think about what sort of role you’re after. Just because you’re volunteering doesn’t mean you should only think about what you can give a charity with your help and hard work. The best workers are those that are passionate about the cause and the responsibilities their job entails, so think about the different areas you would like to be involved in.

Whether you’re looking to work as part of a community, project manage a particular event, work with a team of volunteers or take responsibility for a whole strand of operations, it’s up to you. Volunteering gives you the chance to help out, and help yourself, too. After all, you only get out what you put in, so if you know from the start you’re really good at networking and always the last to leave a party, then you could look into fundraising for the charity of your choice. If you’re more hands on and enjoy working with small teams, teaching and group activities would be right up your street.

Small charities need people who are passionate about their cause and their mission in order to contribute to their network and help them grow. Volunteering during your year abroad will give you the chance to stretch your horizons, gain experience in something you believe in, but also help give you a first-hand experience of what it’s like to work in a small team.

Part of the beauty of Misión México is the close work you’ll get to do with the kids, of all ages and all sorts of backgrounds.

“It´s difficult to imagine the suffering that some of the beautiful children in Misión México have gone through in their short lives. These children welcome you in and show you so much love, it’s hard not to get very attached to each and every one!” Emma, Ireland, recent volunteer with us.

Arts and craft time

We’ve also partnered with all sorts of different organisations, in Mexico, the UK, Australia and the US, meaning you can get involved once you’re back home, too.

“My husband and I had the opportunity to go to Tapachula in 2010 to meet Pam and Alan the kids. We just loved them all and were amazed at how Pam and Alan are working with the children. I believe we all can find a few hours to spare a week to a life changing organisation like Misión México, no matter where you are in the world, there is always a way one can help.” Ana Lucia Cortez, Australia

new balance shoes store

Ana and kids

Ana and kids

We like to think of our work as being more than a shelter for the kids, but rather a real sense of family and community.

“I have two parents who show me what it is like to have unconditional love, and I have a big family to show me what it is like to be united as a family; this is Misión México“. Maria, 22 years, one of our family members.

Maria, Pam and Alan at the event

Maria, Pam and Alan at the event

So, what are you waiting for, come join us at Misión México and change lives! 

Jason and kids

Volunteer Jason and kids at Mision Mexico, Tapachula, Mexico

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!