Category Archives: Volunteering

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!

Scott Kennaugh: Why I love Misión Surf

At Misión Mexico we rely on volunteers to bring love, life and hope to the children that live at the refuge in Tapachula.  Every year volunteers from all over the world head to Mexico to surf with them.  One of these spray-chasers  is Scott Kennaugh from Australia, who started surfing with the children in 2012 and has volunteered with Misión Mexico twice. To celebrate International Volunteer Day we asked him to tell us why he does it.

Why do I love Mision Mexico?

The first time I volunteered at Misión Mexico I was totally unsure of what to expect and really nervous about how an Aussie that could not speak a word of Spanish would be treated  by all the kids. Those fears were immediately thrown out the window as I was welcomed with huge smiles and a thousand questions in little Aussie accents!

Scott Kenaugh

I came to Mexico to experience Misión Surf first hand and nothing could have quite prepared me for it! My first Sunday at the refuge I watched in amazement as four vans were loaded up with shortboards, longboards, foamies, bodyboards, life-saving equipment and then crammed full with 50 kids + volunteers.

I will never forget that first day at the beach, playing in the shallow water with the younger kids, pushing kids onto waves and chilling out the back sharing waves with the older kids. The smiles on the faces of the youngest to the oldest was infectious. It is so refreshing to escape the angry crowds of our culture and be caught up with the pure joy the kids experience simply from being outside and at the beach.

Sunday surf days

From that day onfamily beach day, I spent my weeks looking forward to Sundays: family beach day! I would make deals with the kids, giving them the chance to use my ‘cool’ surfboard or come with me surfing first if they behaved well.

girl surfingWhen I tell people about my time at Misión Mexico people often ask me what my favourite surfing memory is. I have a tough time picking as there as so many different experiences I will never forget! I loved being able to go out surfing with the older kids just like I would with my best mates at home and hoot and holler when someone got a rad wave and laugh when they got smashed. I loved the enthusiasm with which the older girls muscle their way into the lineup and how their spirit has caught on and the younger girls are just as excited to go surfing.

kid with surf board

I loved teaching the young boys that the ocean was to be respected but not feared. We definitely had some laughs as I threw them around in the shore break and then took them further and further out the back and pushed them into waves.

surf wave

Every time I paddle out for a surf now I think back to my time at Misión Mexico and remind myself how lucky I am to do what I do and to be grateful for every surf and every chance I get  to share that experience with someone.

surfing collage

Ana Lucia Cortez

Why I became involved with Misión México

I was first introduced to Misión México by Ere Perez, the beautiful natural cosmetics company that donates to Misión México through their Rosehip Oil Lipbar named “HOPE”. I initially met Deborah Grossman through email and I offered her my graphic design business services. We eventually met in person at the “Somewhere Near Tapachula” screening in Sydney. People as enthusiastic like Deborah, who is completely dedicated to Misión México inspire me to continue giving my support.

What being involved means to you/what you get from it

I love it! 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. If Pam and Alan have given their entire lives to the children in Mexico, I don’t see how I could ever have an excuse to not share my work.

Graphic design is of key importance to give a out a clear, beautiful and professionally set up message. Helping Misión México to get through to their donators and sponsors through my designs of flyers, photos and brochures is an honour for me.

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.


Care McBrien

  • Education: Masters in Public Communications Management at the University of Stirling.
  • Volunteering since: 2011

Why I became involved with Misión México

From a young age I have developed a passion for International Development. My undergraduate degree in Spanish and French, along with the various voluntary and professional experiences it gave me at both a local and international level, left me with the ambition to work in the Non-for-Profit sector. Misión Mexico (UK) offered me the opportunity to combine my passion for the Spanish language and Latin American culture and my current studies in Public Communications. When I heard about the Mission Mexico’s incredible work I was determined to be involved and delighted to be given the chance to contribute to its UK launch.

What being involved means to you/what you get from it

First and foremost, Misión Mexico (UK) allows me to use the skills I have gained in a meaningful way. It gives me the opportunity to support Pam and Alan Sukse in their mission to transform the lives of over 50 children.  I gain invaluable work experience, receive professional mentoring and meet and work alongside people from all corners of the UK. It is incredibly exciting to be involved.


Beau and Kelly from Sydney

Mision Mexico is truly an amazing experience. For anyone planning to go, be prepared to work hard, be prepared to do more than just surfing with the kids, be prepared to make a difference and you will have a lifetime of amazing memories and like us will return home with a new sense of what life has to offer, and what a rewarding experience volunteering can be.


Marianne from Norway

Every day at the house was different; laughter, tears, problems that needed to be solved and many hugs and kisses from the kids. I will always look back on my experience at Mission Mexico with good thoughts about hope and love, and I wish that I one day will be able to make such a positive impact on someone’s lives. Thanks to all the kids for being themselves, I miss them all everyday!


Sandra from Ireland

Every day was different at Mission Mexico there were days with tears, laughter and lots of joking but also utter exhaustion. Some days you felt so drained from the heat and constant attention you have to give to the kids and also frustrated with situations you may find difficult to handle, but for all the trying days there were so many fulfilling ones that made you remember why you were there and that it was a once in a lifetime opportunity to help.