San Pancho Baby Clothes Project
From Winnipeg to San Pancho with Love
by Rod Sprange
Ron, Dra. Hernandez, Michel Griffen and Marilyn bring layettes for the San Pancho babies in 2016
Our Parish of St. Peter in Winnipeg, Canada has been blessed by a loving relationship with volunteers and staff of the hospital in San Pancho (San Francisco) Nayarit, Mexico. Through our connection with Christ Church by the Sea in Puerto Vallarta, we became aware of the great need for new-born baby clothes in the maternity unit of the San Pancho regional hospital.
The hospital is the maternity and pediatric centre for the area surrounding San Pancho. Every year over 1,400 babies are brought into this world by the caring staff of the hospital.
Unfortunately there is much poverty in the area and as Michel Griffen, a local volunteer in the early stimulation unit reports, “...many others arrive with nothing to wrap or dress their babies”.
Our parish vestry (church council) approved a project where we would collect brand new baby clothes and receiving blankets and home knitted clothes to take to San Pancho. Parish members enthusiastically embraced the project. They wanted to know more about the people living in and around San Pancho and which clothing and items would be most needed. Ana Luisa Contreras, one of the pediatric nurses told us that every item was equally in demand as many people were very poor.
The first year we started the project in September 2014 and by January 2015 had a huge suitcase of baby items ready to take to San Pancho. We were grateful to West Jet, a Canadian airline with direct flights between Winnipeg and Puerto Vallarta, which offers a program where we are permitted to bring one extra free suitcase for humanitarian aid purposes. We transported 50 lbs. of baby clothes and blankets to Mexico. The Mexican government allows us to bring in up to $500 worth of products for humanitarian aid.
Our friends, Curt Hahn and Allan Affleck, from Christ Church By-the-Sea in Puerto Vallarta, helped us to transport the bulky case from Puerto Vallarta to San Pancho. Then on a wonderful day in February we took the Pacifico bus from Puerto Vallarta to San Pancho to deliver the suitcase full of clothes to the hospital.
It was wonderful to see the tears of joy from Michel and Ana as we unpacked item after item. The hand-knitted items were received with great care and we were told that they would be treasured by the families receiving them, who would hand them down from generation to generation. It was a very moving experience for us. In particular seeing one young child wearing one of the hand-knitted cardigans and accepting a hand-sewn stuffed toy. Grandma, holding the baby, was very proud.
In September 2015 we again started to collect items for San Pancho and once again were overwhelmed by the generosity of parishioners who were so excited to help. Each Sunday people would excitedly bring in baby items they had made or purchased. We displayed the received items in the suitcase each week as a reminder of the project. Many people came to admire the clothes and in particular the knitted items.
We were unable to visit Mexico this year but some Winnipeg friends, Ron and Marilyn, were going and were delighted to take the extra case. Once again, Curt helped transport the suitcase to San Pancho, and Ron and Marilyn had the pleasure of presenting the clothing to Michel, Ana and Dra Laura Garcia Hernandez (one of the hospital pediatricians). I know it was a highlight of their visit this year and we were happy that two more Winnipegers had made a connection with the wonderful people at the San Pancho hospital.
With God’s help we will continue this project and our loving relationship with the people of San Pancho will grow. Our thanks to all who provide care for the babies and who have assisted with the project - especially the knitters who spent many loving hours crafting such beautiful items, and those who purchased lovely items for the babies.
Rod and Susan with Michel, 2015