Author Archives: lovelife

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.

Eat a burrito this Charity Tuesday!

If you’re in Australia, TODAY is your opportunity to enjoy some delicious food AND support Misión México all with the same bite!

Tuesday 16 September is Mexican Independence Day, and to celebrate, our loyal and wonderful supporter Guzman y Gomez is donating $1 from every burrito sold today to our charitable cause.

We think that is AMAZING and thank them for the wonderful support – a selfless and huge contributor to Misión México since 2007.
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We’d also like to thank all those generous, supporting (and hungry!) people who are in Australia today, eating a burrito to help feed and care for our children!

Buen provecho!

Happy Grandparents Day!

Pam and Alan

The relationship between grandchildren and grandparents is undeniably special. Grandparents, having paid their parental dues, are no longer responsible for the daily battles of making unruly children clean their teeth, eat their vegetables or go to bed early. Instead they have graduated to the blissful stage of handing a crying child back to their mother, sneaking them a fiver when their father isn’t looking and telling them stories their own children were never interested in.

For those of us lucky enough to know our grandparents, the wisdom, values and lessons they pass on to us shape our understanding of who we are and of the world around us. They have lived the joys, challenges and sadnesses that we are about to and offer advice, comfort and love when we pass through life’s early rituals balance rot

Of course not everyone is lucky to know their grandparents or indeed live near them. However, that doesn’t mean that their love cannot be felt. Pam and Alan have 11 grandchildren aged between 6 months and 18 years. Only two of them live close by in Tapachula, México. With many miles between Pam and Alan and most their grandchildren (who live in Queensland, Australia), they have to work hard at keeping that important relationship alive.

To celebrate Grandparents Day, their children tell us what Pam and Alan mean to them.


“Narni and Pa are definitely not your everyday grandparents. They don’t sit around watching TV, drinking tea and knitting the family cardigans. It’s hard being a million miles apart. But I have to say that even with so much distance between us they support me more than family that live so close. They are always the first to call me screaming happy cheers down the phone when I win at the championships, they are the first to help me when I am chosen for overseas events, they truly are interested in how I am doing and where I am heading and I know when I make the Olympics or Commonwealth Games, they will be there 100% supporting me because that’s the wonderful, young, encouraging Grandparents they are. I miss them a lot and really wish they were closer. But I am so grateful that they are my Grandparents. Happy Grandparents day Narni and Pa. I love you both so much.”


“Even with all the miles between us I share the same moon with Narni and Pa”


“My Narni and Pa live in Mexico because they look after a lot of children, like FIFTY of them! I miss them but I think what they do is important. I wish we lived in the same place. I do like when they come to visit us. One day Pa was chasing me and Aaliah around the table, and he was trying to tickle us, it was really funny. I loved it.”


“My Narni and Pa are great, kind hearted people and idols in this world. It is a bit sad that we don’t see them that often but it is good to know they are doing so much for other children in need. When I get older I want to be exactly like them and I hope more people follow in their footsteps.”


“My Narni and Pa are really nice and I look forward to their visits. I really love going skiing with Pa and when Narni reads us books. I feel sad that they are far away but they are always working to help the kids at the refuge and that is very good.”


Celebrating the importance Literacy Day

Most of us don’t remember not being able to read. Having been taught at such a young age, we take the ability to deceiver shapes, turn them into sounds, words, then sentences for granted. And when reading is such a natural phenomenon you don’t realise how vital it is for surviving modern society. From instruction manuals, to newspapers, bank statements to school text books, being able to read enables you to progress.

Because if you can read, it is easier to learn; and when you are able to learn you can receive an education; and when you are educated, you can overcome any barriers that may be in your way and fulfill you potential. The ability to read, therefore, is a human right and as such should be available to all. Sadly, according to the World Literacy Foundation 57 million primary aged children all over the world are not in school, and 123 million young people are unable to read or write. In Chiapas, the state where Misión México is based, literacy rates are the lowest of the whole balance shoes

reading in English

Reading in English!

We, therefore, take reading very seriously and we make sure that every child that comes through our door spends time with books. Because reading isn’t just about equipping our children with the tools they need to progress in school. It is about investing in a child’s imagination, giving them space to develop their creativity, and building their confidence and self esteem. Books allow children who have lived through trauma a chance to enter into new worlds, explore different possibilities and arrive at a greater understanding of themselves and the world around them.

We are so grateful to be able to give our children access to a library of books donated to us from all over the world and now some of our children are now able to read in English and Spanish. In fact reading is so important that now the older children take the time to read with the younger ones, enabling them to build relationships with one another and learn what it is to care for and teach someone.

brotherly learning

Brothers learning to read

Thank you to everyone who has donated to the Mision Mexico education programme and to everyone that has donated us books.

Want to come and be part of the team that changes our children’s lives through reading and education. We are looking for volunteers!

Come and get your dose of vitamin ‘T’ at Mission’s Mexican Festival!

Mexfest 2014

Mexfest 2014

Tacos, tamales, tortas, tortillas and tostadas will all be on offer when Melbourne’s Federation Square transforms into a mini Mexico for MEXfest on Sunday 14 September – a festival which is proudly supporting Misión México!new balance shoes

We’re lucky enough to be part of the third annual Mexican celebration, where local foods, artists and education activities will be taking place for all ages to coincide with Mexican Independence Day.

We’ll have a Misión México store set up to help promote and spread the news of our wonderful cause.


There will be a raffle to win a surfboard kindly donated by Global Surf Industries and the Somewhere Near Tapachula DVDs will be for sale as T-shirts and wristbands. Face Painters will be at the stall to paint Aztec designs for the kids!

All funds raised will be donated to the children.

We’re excited to announce that Director, Alan Skuse and our Misión México (UK) Chairperson Deborah Grossman will both be attending, along with Moacir, one of the young mean who lived with Pam and Alan for seven years.

So if you’ll be in or around Melbourne on Sunday 14 September, drop by Federation Square to say hello and dose up on some tasty vitamin T!

Hasta luego amigos!


MexicanFestivalLogo (2)

Mission’s Mexican Festival

Our Youth Transition Program needs you!

Dulce preparing dinner

We’re implementing a number of amazing programs at Misión México but we can’t do it alone.
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We’re looking for house supervisors to support our young adults as they move to a transition house where they can develop the skills and experience to live independently as adults.  Interested or know someone who might be? Read on!….

In the last 12 months we’ve been working on our Youth Transition Program focusing on those young people at Misión México reaching adulthood to assist and support them into independent living whilst continuing with their education.


Ricky learning to cook

The Program encompasses youth from 12 years old and upwards. The initial phase of the program starts in the Misión México home when the young person reaches their teens. The next phase of the program is the transition house where an on-site house supervisor mentors and guides the young people in a supported, safe, nurturing and learning shared home environment.

By providing supervised housing outside of the main home, our youths have the chance to transition to an adult, independent lifestyle, while still having the support of Misión México.

We need supervisor(s) immediately to set up the house with the young adult males, helping them live their day-to-day lives, supporting them and acting as a responsible role model. We will need a supervisor for the female transition house from the end of this year.

This is a long term commitment (min. 12 months).

For more information please get in touch at

Cooking dinner for the girls

Cooking dinner for the girls

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


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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

International Youth Day 2014 – Mental Health Matters

Often we are all too quick to label young people and children when they are not behaving in the way we expect them to. They are called bad, disrespectful, selfish, disruptive… the list goes on and on. We don’t consider that perhaps said young person is living with mental ill health and they haven’t yet found a way of communicating the distress that it is causing them. Because children and young people, by their very nature should have nothing to worry about, right? They should be care free, bright eyed and bushy tailed, yet to experience the darker sides of life. Even those children who have suffered great trauma or witnessed tragedy at a young age we expect to bounce back; kids are resilient after all.

Inherent to this is the belief that mental ill health is caused by experiencing external pain or distress and of course stress related illness is a very real thing. However, we must move beyond this and recognise that mental ill health is also something people experience for no outwardly discernable reason, and when this happens there is a lack of understanding and often empathy for people who live with anxiety, depression, OCD and the many other mental illnesses.chaussures trail new balance

Particularly difficult to acknowledge is that young people and children live with mental ill health; maybe because it is too painful and unjust to consider. Because what is also true about children and youth is that they can be cruel and a young person living with mental ill health, faces greater isolation, shame and fear preventing them to speaking to their peers and seeking the help they need.

We at Misión México are very pleased to see that this year’s International Youth Day 2014 has taken the theme ‘Youth and Mental Health.’ Many of the children who come through our doors have suffered too much for their young lives and all that we do is aimed towards helping young people to recover physically, mentally and emotionally from what they have experienced through music, sport, education, family and affection. We truly believe that Mental Health Matters and that children need to be educated on how to take care of their mental well being just as much as their physical.

So this international youth day please take time to support this cause and raise awareness of mental ill health among young people so they feel better able to access the support they need. Don’t know where to start? Young Minds UK is a fantastic resource for young people and adults giving advice on how to take care of their mental well being.


join our wave!

Misión México presents the Mexican Wave… International Surfing Day Thursday 20 June and all weekend (until 23 June)

Your chance to get creative and organise your own event and join the Wave to Tapachula and to raise $10,000 for Misión México.


how you can join the wave …

– Film a Mexican wave with your friends, colleagues or family and share on your social media using #MexicanWave. The kids in Tapachula have already done their wave!

– Buy our surfing hoodiesor our documentary Somewhere Near Tapachula

 – Organise a surf event – involve your local surf club, donate the entry fees, get your local Mexican restaurant involved and if you’re already part of a surfing event encourage the organisers to fundraise for Misión México!

– If you’ve never surfed before, organise a surf lesson with you friends. Ask a surf instructor to donate the lesson and use My Donate or EveryDay Hero to help you fundraise.

That’s what The Misión México (UK) Trustees are doing – their first ever lesson is happening in Cornwall with UK Pro Surfer Andrew Cotton and sponsored by Ticket to Ride. If you’d like to join us just get in touch!

– Ask your local surf schools/shops to donate to Misión México through wetsuit/board hire or have our donation tins on display

– Organise a screening of our award winning documentary Somewhere Near Tapachula at your school, church, cinema, workplace or even at your home and ask for gold coin donations. You could serve up nachos and Coronas to give it a real Mexican Wave flavour.

– Watch and encourage everyone you know to watch Somewhere Near Tapachula online, and donate for every viewing.


what next?

Contact us and let us know what you’re planning to do, when and where. Let us know if you need any promotional materials e.g. our logo and brochures.

Follow us on Twitter to catch the Mexican Wave head your way!

our Mexican Wave sponsors!

UK Pro Surfer Andrew Cotton

Ticket to Ride Surf School