"Tis The Season For The Children

Peregrina's Journey
Peter and Margie Benziger
Wed 14 Dec 2016 21:22
​17:64/1N   101:55.1W​

‘Tis The Season For The Children

​  [Por Los Ninos Party

​ ​


On the west coast of Mexico, not far from the glitzy tourist mecca of Ixtapa, lies the small town of Zihuatanejo.

Peregrina has been anchored here for the past three weeks. Normally, our sailing pattern calls for just a short stay in each location and then, we move on. Our daughter, Amy, calls us “vagabonds.”  Maybe that is true…

But, Zihuatanego has pulled at our heartstrings and we will be staying here until mid-February. One of the main reasons is that we will be helping out in SAILFEST in February, 2017 - a charity event lasting a full week.  SAILFEST is run by a volunteer organization known as Por Los Niños (For The Children) with LOTS of support from the visiting yachting community. Here is last year’s poster.

Over the past couple of weeks, Margie and I have been meeting with the administrators of Por Los Niños; visiting the many schools receiving assistance and talking to students. You can check out the website at www.porlosninos.com.

SAILFEST is the biggest sailing event in Mexico every year and the “yachties” are totally behind this deserving organization. 

With the money from SAILFEST and other contributions, Por Los Ninos is committed to providing a safe and secure learning environment in the poorest communities in the region. In partnership with compassionate volunteers, donors, local governments, private business and several Rotary  organizations in the USA, they have built 13 new kindergartens and primary schools and one new high school that serve more than 2,500 students a year.

Por Los Niños also provides 36,000 meals every year to the most extremely disadvantaged kids in after-school tutoring programs.  Many of these kids do not receive a meal in the morning since their families cannot afford basic foods. (On average, their family income is less than $165 per month!) One child told me that when she first saw the full plate of food in front on her on first day at school, she did not want to eat it unless she could share it with her five brothers and sisters who were not there and had not eaten that morning.   When I asked the kids, in the photo below, to raise their hands and yell if they enjoyed the food, I had to cover my ears it was so loud.

 Por Los Ninos has also built new classrooms, bathrooms and kitchens at more than 20 existing schools that have outgrown their enrollment capacity.  What’s more, Por los Niños also works with Niños Adelante, another local program that awards 200+ academic scholarships a year, including 92 university scholarships.

The school seen below is a kindergarten in one of the poorest communities in Zihuatanejo.  It was constructed in 2012 by Por Los Niños along with local donations of time, materials and parental support. It is called “Jardin de Los Ninos” which translates to Garden of the Children. 

It started with one classroom and 28 students in 2012.  This year, there are four classrooms with 84 students. The cost to build each new classroom is roughly about $10,000 US. Can you imagine how much a classroom costs to build in the United States?


This is the interior of one of the classrooms. (Who’s the old dude in the hat?)

My story today is about the dedication of the new kitchen at this kindergarten. I was honored to attend the grand opening and dedication along with several of the Por los Niños board members, parents and family members as well as a number of local dignitaries. Unfortunately, Margie was sick and unable to be there in person but she joined me in spirit. 

Let me tell you about my day…

Before the new kitchen opened, the food arrived in a wheelbarrow.

 The photo below shows the new kitchen and Larry “Lorenzo” Marbat who is the General Administrator for the Por Los Niños organization.  Lorenzo is a Portland native who has been living in Zihuatanejo for 14 years.



Inside the spanking new kitchen, everything is ready to go!


 The local officials came for the ribbon cutting.

 And then the big moment the kids had been waiting for…a celebratory cake at their new kid-sized tables.

 Por Los Niños is a wonderful organization making a real difference here in Zihuatanejo.


Ok, so here comes the hard sell!

In just a couple of weeks, the 2016 tax year ends and so will your opportunity to take an income tax deduction for donations. I know that every year, my accountant asks me how much I have donated and I hang my head sheepishly and mumble my number.

Por Los Niños is a United States registered 501 (C) (3) charity and donations are fully deductible. You can make a one time or monthly donations of your choice. You can buy a desk or a uniform, feed a child or contribute to the general building fund. And, I should point out more than 99% of the income received goes directly to the schools! 

Again, here is the website: www.porlosninos.com   Hit the donate button on the top right, select 

​from the list on​
the page where you want your donation to go and pay through PayPal. If you don’t have a PayPal account, it will set one up in ONE minute.

Think of the smiles on the faces of all your new friends.


Thanks and Happy Holidays to all of you!

Margie and Peter aboard S/V Peregrina

Zihuatanejo, Mexico







Peter Benziger
I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list

Peter Benziger
I haven't been everywhere but it's on my list