Archive for August, 2008

Turtle’s progress

The Angel Notion family has left the clinic today to go to Cancun and show their support for one of their own that was involved in a fatal car accident over the weekend. This is just one of many serious accidents occurring during the past week. For instance, two policeman were killed in an accident yesterday, and last week, a tour bus flipped over on the highway causing serious injuries. Housemate Hector told me he saw five traffic accident that day. Crazy.

In other news: the website is moving along. Just when I thought my engine was flooded, I started the web design ignition again and it seems like I’m going to get somewhere this time! I’m keeping my fingers crossed that things keep moving along. I think a big part of this is patience. I know patience is indispensable when you’re beginning a website without the tools compounded by being in a new place without your regular resources. So I see this as an opportunity to grow in patience and nip frustration as it arises.

I’m also finding that every time I give, I get back. Thus far, I’ve made two purchases for the Angel Notion website. Each time, I received a job the same day that paid exactly what I had invested. It’s thrilling to see this universal law of giving and receiving in action.

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I’ve thoroughly enjoyed listening to this Trova Yucateca playlist today.

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Dr. Gabriel

Dr. Gabriel Ayala Velazquez-Matus is the newest member at Angel Notion. He volunteered at the clinic for two weeks last March while he was vacationing in Playa del Carmen. He had just completed his studies at Universidad La Salle – Facultad Mexicana de Medicina in Mexico City and was ready to begin his career as a physician. He was so impressed by the work and camaraderie he found here, that he decided to stay and is now the resident General Practitioner. His main areas of focus are prenatal, diabetes, and menopause.

  • Prenatal: He appreciates being part of a process. He oversees every area of a woman’s pregnancy and after birth as well.
  • Diabetes: There are free screenings every Friday. Additionally, Dr. G takes care of a group of 37 who come in weekly for treatment.
  • Menopause therapy includes bone density testing, cervical cancer screenings, mammograms, and group guidance and counseling.

Dr. Gabriel appreciates that everyone works as a team here at Angel Notion. He also values the holistic blend of traditional and alternative therapies. He learns a lot from his colleagues as everyone is willing the share their expertise in their commitment to continual learning and communal growth.

What stands out the most about Dr. Gabriel is his ever present smile and upbeat energy. Dr. Gabriel and Angel Notion are a match made in heaven.

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A nice thing

There’s a lot of excitement in the clinic today as a group of volunteers are getting ready to hit the streets to raise funds for Freddy’s kidney transplant. Whitney Fox (17), Inga Hansen (18), and Katherine Rouse (16) are among those volunteering their vacation time at Angel Notion. The three teenagers are Girl Scouts from Hood River, Oregon. They raised funds back home to experience a rich adventure through Teenagers Abroad that consists of learning Spanish, community service, and plenty of sunshiny fun. Today, they’re donating their time to distribute Angel Notion fliers and collect donations for Freddy.

These girls intentionally chose to incorporate social service in their vacation. I think more folks would enjoy altruistic experiences during their time off if they only knew what opportunities were available to them.

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Rooftop shooter

This little kid was “shooting” me with his gun, so I took out my camera and shot him and his sister. They were super silly with excitement when I brought out my camera.


In other news, I just finished my first paying job! Yesterday while I was waiting around at the clinic, I helped a woman who runs the local magazine, Here in Playa, edit a stack of translated articles. The Spanish to English was poor and I spent 90 minutes with her. When she asked if she could bring another stack in, I told her it would cost her and I couldn’t do it at Angel Notion. So she came over today and we worked for another 90 minutes. It feels great to get paid!


Here in Playa‘s article about Lavonna Redman, director of Angel Notion.

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Cristina Martina Ceron was the first person to walk into Angel Notion. As a key networker and respected leader in her community, she wanted to know what kinds of services would be offered and how her neighborhood would benefit. When Lavonna shared her vision, Cristina asked to volunteer. Her presence been indispensable ever since.

Cristina cleans, cooks, runs errands, connects the dots, and shakes out the static so everything runs smoothly at the clinic. She has also built a beautiful garden on the grounds where she cultivates medicinal herbs.

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Meet Jorge Carranza Samano, co-founder of the clinic at Angel Notion. Jorge is the resident psychologist. He offers psychotherapy, vocational guidance, family therapy, speech therapy, massage therapy, and addiction counseling. He also runs a massage school.

Jorge has been with Lavonna since the beginning. His vision was to develop pathways to medicine for those who couldn’t afford it. His greatest joy is receiving a smile from a depressed person or witnessing a child walk again.

Jorge shares, “All my life, I have been working with poor people. It strikes my spirit. Destiny always puts me in these positions. Things come together and I’m in the middle of helping the poor again.” When he’s not at the clinic, Jorge is helping the Maya who live in the jungle become self-sufficient. He believes education is far more powerful than a hand-out. He teaches these groups how to produce and sell honey, candles, soap and paper. He teaches them English and massage so they can enter the tourist economy. He plans to open a school for children. Mostly, he hopes to make a difference in their attitude and culture so that there is less domestic violence stemming from poverty and more hope offered by new economic opportunities.

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First day!

Fernando and I began our volunteer work today at Angel Notion. I’m so excited about the month ahead. Fernando will be installing a new computer program to track patients, converting all the paper files to an electronic database that will be remotely accessible. The clinic also partners with the University of Michigan and plans to develop a study with them on why so many children are born with deformities in this area. The study will involve setting up computers, webcams, and installing software. Fernando will help in this area too.

My main project will be updating and possibly revamping the Angel Notion website. I’ve sent off a few emails to designer friends hoping that someone will be willing to design a shell that I can populate with content. Or maybe I’ll find a template to use. I have a good idea of the content to include, but am sure that more will arise as I begin talking to the medical volunteers, finding out even more of what they do from them.

Thus far, here are some of my notes which will probably make more sense to me than to anyone else. This is just a preliminary documentation of the different services offered at the clinic.

  • Chiropractic
  • Dentisty
  • Psychology
  • Ophthalmology
  • Pediatrics
  • Cardiology
  • Acupuncture
  • Research & Development
  • Education: special needs; pre-natal; raw foods; diabetes
  • Donations of toys and school supplies to Maya children

It’s an exciting time at the clinic. Just recently, Angel Notion received funds to begin building another center for pediatrics and prenatal care. The equipment was donated from the United States. Likewise, digitizing patient records and setting up the study are huge steps forward.

It’s simply amazing to me that Director Lavonna built this from scratch 9 years ago after finding a little boy in need of a new heart. After taking him to the States for surgery, the little boy’s mother told everyone she knew about Lavonna and what she had done for her son. Soon, other parents were bringing their children with congenital heart defects to her doorstep. Lavonna found a way to help them.

The next major accomplishment came from the Mayor. He had been watching Lavonna from a distance and asked her to come over for a meeting. He was so pleased with her work, that he gave her an abandoned clinic to use as center for health and healing. She immediately called all the alternative health providers that she knew and began an alternative healing center. Her volunteers consisted of massage therapists, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and the like. Today, the clinic has more of a traditional health focus, but the alternative roots still permeate. Lavonna believes that lack of money should never be a deterrent to alleviate pain or save a child’s life. Further, she strongly supports volunteering in one’s community. The professionals at her clinic stagger their visits once a week and donate their time to help others in their neighborhood. It’s truly inspiring: raising community awareness and empowering folks by creating pathways to giving back.

Currently, there are twenty-five children in need of open heart surgery. In December, there will be a a special rate for the surgeries of $150 per child instead of the normal $15,000. Besides monetary donations, other tax deductible opportunities to share are the following:

  • Baby aspirin
  • Pediasure
  • Children’s books in Spanish
  • Backpacks
  • School supplies
  • Toys
  • Used glasses (frames)
  • $150 = 1 heart for a child during the month of December 2008

This is going to be one magical month.

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Saturday night

Yesterday, Hector told us that Playa del Carmen is the fastest growing city in Mexico. Hector lives in the home we’re staying at, and he turned 23 yesterday (Happy Birthday, Hector!). His family runs Adventure Tours which takes folks on snorkeling trips and they are very busy. Playa certainly does show signs of expansion. It seems that there is new construction on just about every street, especially closer to the ocean and near the popular Quinta Avenida or 5th Street.

Tourism is Playa’s cash cow. The beaches are packed this time of year. On the weekends, the nationals come from all over, skipping over Cancun to come to Playa, so the town is brimming over with visitors. Last night, F and I took a long walk along the beach. Most of the hotels had cabanas and lounge chairs set up outside with mood lighting, music and ambiance. We noticed one couple receiving massages on the beach, at night, offered by one of the hotels.

Later on in the evening, we went to La Bodeguita del Medio, a cuban restaurant and club. There was a very spirited entertainer who sang many of our salsa favorites. We drank mojitos and sweated them out on the dance floor.

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Yesterday we went to Tulum. This walled city is known for its Mayan ruins. It’s peaceful there and the ocean was beautiful. I had a massage with local shaman Daniel Pool Pech. I’ve been wanting to meet him for awhile now after I read about his healing massage using chants and body knowledge that comes to him in his dreams. It was a good experience.

Fernando and I have been enjoying a small respite before we begin our volunteer work at Angel Notion on Monday. The beaches here are warm and gorgeous. Playa del Carmen is a mid-sized town with a lot of international tourism. We’re living with a family that rents out rooms. This paragraph is so disjointed, I’ll just end it here.

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