Our History

  1. billhood
  2. July 31, 2012 12:05 pm

Our History

VAMOS!

In 1986 retired diplomat Ike Patch visited Mexico to see the monarch butterflies. About the same time, Bill and Patty Coleman, authors and publishers, went to Cuernavaca in central Mexico to make a retreat. Since all three lived in the little town of Weston, Vermont (Population 500) it was inevitable that they would compare notes on their trips. Over coffee, they all lamented the poverty they had seen – the hungry little children, the twisted limbs, the depressed and hopeless women. All wished they could do something about it.

Patty with her ever bubbling enthusiasm suggested they form a non-profit corporation to help the Mexican poor. She said, “Let’s do something even if it is something small. It would be better to help a few children than to complain about the poverty.” Bill and Ike agreed and VAMOS! was born – a registered charitable organization based in the U.S. and Mexico.

Friends, family and neighbors joined in and a few years later Bill and Patty sold their house and business and went to live in Cuernavaca, Mexico to supervise the VAMOS! projects.

Now VAMOS! has 81 projects all of which are designed to empower the poor and has formed two non-profit corporations, one in the U.S. and the other in Mexico to ensure that VAMOS! will go on and on and on. VAMOS! helps by helping communities build schools and community centers and by feeding up to 2200 children and their mothers per day.

Casa Romero

In 1993 VAMOS! volunteers met a group of indigenous street seller artists sleeping underneath a downtown church with their children. During the day they had to vacate the premises and carry all their products and supplies with them. Often going to sleep hungry and speaking little Spanish, VAMOS! offered food and Spanish lessons. So began a long and productive relationship.

VAMOS! rented a workshop nearby, which was named Casa Romero – an artisan cooperative located in downtown Cuernavaca, Mexico. Here the artists developed their skills. They learned to improve their designs and finishes, display their work in Casa Romero, pack and ship their products, and manage their accounts.

 

Today they are supporting themselves, their wives and children and relatives back in their villages with money they earn as artisans. The picture shows the artists proudly displaying the balls they have produced. Each item is signed so you can identify who produced the products you may be purchasing. Three of the men are from the original group found under the church.

Canadian Friends of VAMOS!

Since their retirement, Claudia Bierman and William Graham spend five months a year in Cuernavaca, Mexico. In November of 2000 they met Bill and Patty Coleman of VAMOS! Claudia and William spent several months visiting projects, meeting the leaders, seeing the children and talking with young artisans who make superb handicrafts in the Casa Romero workshop. They observed how VAMOS! worked closely with community leaders and projects were developed to bring families and neighbours together to work for a better future.

In 2001 Claudia and William started Canadian Friends of VAMOS!, a Canadian charitable organization, to work with VAMOS! .

Cuernavaca is a city of 349,102 (2005 census) inhabitants, with another 332,197 in the outlying neighbourhoods. It is located 70 kilometers southwest of Mexico City. Like many cities in Mexico, the population has grown dramatically over the past twenty years. Rural families who can no longer support themselves on their farms migrate to the cities to look for jobs. They live in communities that are incredibly poor and often lack basic human services – water, electricity, sewage, schools and medical services. Some live in dirt-floor shacks made from corrugated paper or scrap lumber. Few have regular employment and, being recent migrants from rural Mexico, have few ties with their neighbours.

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