Patronato Pro Niños provides medical, dental, psychological, and nutritional care for children and adolescents from economically deprived families in the municipality of San Miguel de Allende.
Few people have quite as much energy as the marvelous Nory Contractor, Executive Director of Patronato Pro Niños. I sat down with her over lunch to discuss their upcoming fifty-year anniversary and what they need from the community now.
Hi Nory, what is going on with you and Patronato right now?
Next year is our fifty-year anniversary! I’m thinking of all the different things that have to happen month to month to get us to the fiftieth… What we can do over the spread of the year to make the fiftieth more meaningful. We’re going to be doing a video series of stories of real children and real successes. We want to do something in parts and tell a bigger story.
What are some of the struggles of running a Non-Government Organization (NGO) here?
As an institution, you have to be so careful how you are spending your resources. If you need to create a brochure or something, you can’t just pay someone to create it. You either need to have it donated or learn how to create it yourself. I want to spend 99.9% of our resources on the mission itself. I don’t want to buy paper, I don’t want to buy cleaning supplies, gas... I want to get most everything donated so we can focus on our mission.
It would be great to have a fair to showcase to the public all of the NGOs and raise the awareness of what is out there, to help people decide where to dedicate their time. Or if you can’t dedicate your time, write a check.
It seems from talking to you and your counterparts in the community that everyone is a bit overextended. What are your thoughts on this?
NGOs here are missing someone that says, “Hey let’s all sit and have the conversation.” For instance, you’re providing services to this community. “Are you passing out vitamins to these kids?” “No, we’re not going this year.” “Do you want to send those kids vitamins because next week we’re going to take shoes to those kids.” We need more of that. That’s what we need. There are 120 registered NGOs in the community, and we need to talk to one another.
What else are you working on?
One of the things we are working on is called “Travel with a Purpose.” Come here and see how the other half of the world lives. Kids need to see that there are communities that have needs. We hope to develop the young, really incredible leaders of the world. The young philanthropists of the world are in our hands right now.
Imagine if we could really impact young people to have this awareness! And to know that in the future they can work towards some equality. We are so imbalanced in this world. There are people in one of my communities that only get water twice a week. They walk 7km to get to the nearest bus stop.
Oftentimes, as someone living here, you run across a person with a sick child or in desperate need of medical help. What should someone do in this sort of a situation?
Tell them you are going to help them, and then connect them to us. Let’s say she doesn’t qualify for Seguro Popular, we can help her get it. We will be the bridge to the system. Our social worker will help her get onto Seguro Popular. Sometimes, they actually have insurance, but they don’t know how to navigate it. We can help them. The best thing you can do is to give someone our information. I tell them, just bring me these documents and we’ll get you started. Or if you don’t have them, I will help you get them.
We spend hundreds of thousands of pesos a year to help very sick children. Our budget is $8 million pesos a year. We spend $6 million pesos on 8,000 children for basic care. We spend another $2 million pesos on 300 of the sickest children in this community.
There is a saying in Spanish that means “Your peso keeps me on the street.” Every peso you give to someone on the street prevents them from being in a better place. You’re not giving it to where the services are going to be offered. This is how you make real social change, by giving to where the services are going to be offered. And I support the other charities in town. I am a mentor to two students. And I opened another non-profit with six of my friends to help provide microloans to 17 women entrepreneurs.
So, I believe in the system so much. You just have to put your pesos in the right place.