A Backpack for a Smile worth a Million Bucks!


KKIS Project - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenAs the days of summer come to a close those across the world are preparing to head back to school. Here in Playa, a very special group of expat volunteers are proudly showing the results of a year round operation geared towards helping less fortunate children of the community get all the tools they need for a successful school year.

The KKIS project is an outstanding organization that dedicates time and money to collecting, packing and delivering school supplies for those who may have otherwise not had those proper essentials. The initiative has been ongoing for a few years and has grown greatly as new volunteers and increased donations proudly pour in.

Last year I had the pleasure to spend some time volunteering with the group who spends their summer afternoons stuffing backpacks one by one based on each applicant’s particular needs. Example of items are lined notebooks, pens, pencils, calculators, dictionaries, colored pencils, scissors, and much much more!

After several weeks of packing backpacks in a very organized fashion shipments are then made to various area schools where backpacks are handed out to each individual child. As I was happy to witness last year how genuinely happy these kids were to receive their backpacks -a true joy for them and also a real reward for all those who helped in creating that moment.

KKIS Project - Condo Hotels Playa del CarmenThis year the news is pouring in of their continued success! The appreciation of the families and children goes far beyond what anyone could even expect! And it is all thanks to those who either volunteered, donated funds or have simply brought a backpack with them to drop off while headed out on vacation to Playa. One backpack is worth a huge smile! And that to me is priceless!

While this year’s efforts are coming to a close their goal never ends! The KKIS project will continuously be collecting donations from now until next summer where they will once again shed light to the hearts of the community.

Just a side note that I feel is important to mention: As I have lived here for over 2 years now, I have realized that those families who are truly in need are all hard working people. Unfortunately, some poverty is not caused by the lack of hard work, rather that the salaries are not always ideal especially if for those who were not brought up having the opportunity for a good education. The initiatives that are being done here by KKIS have a very good possibility of breaking the circle and giving children the opportunity to be educated property – ultimately resulting on better opportunities for the future.

If you are planning to travel to Playa del Carmen or nearby in the Riviera Maya, and you would like to help by bringing along a backpack or even some excess school supplies, all donations are always greatly appreciated!

You can contact a KKIS project representative by visiting their website at http://www.kkisproject.org. For more information, photos and blogs of their success you can also visit their Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-KKIS-Project/230592130368921?sk=info

I should also mention that there are also several other expat run initiatives which gear themselves heavily towards making a difference by helping the Playa del Carmen community. This includes a number of charity collections, shoe drives and those who are geared towards getting schools better equipped with technology. Two other well-known organizations are The Amigos network or the Seaside Rotary Club.

Small gestures are powerful and have the fuel to travel far!

Giving Back to Playa del Carmen’s Kids

Playa del Carmen is a vacation destination people return to year after year. Its Caribbean location, world-class restaurants and cosmopolitan, laid back vibe draws visitors from all over the globe. For those of us who now consider Playa a ‘home away from home’, sometimes it’s nice to connect with the community in a more meaningful way, to give something back to the local people who have shared their home so graciously with us.

Kids in Playa del Carmen

There is a special relationship between locals and visitors in Playa del Carmen. The town is primarily a tourist destination, and therefore visitors are welcomed with open arms from every corner of the globe. It’s a relatively new town and has seen exponential growth over the last 15 years, thriving on the tourism industry it created.

Children growing up in Playa del Carmen today will most likely find employment in the tourism industry, so learning English has become increasingly important for them.

That’s where the KKIS Project Comes in. The small, local charity organization run by a group of dedicated Playa del Carmen expats runs a volunteer English teaching program at a local primary school north of town and also provides much needed school supplies to underprivileged students, ensuring they have the best chance at a bright future.

Playa del Carmen Kids

I have recently become involved in the volunteer program, and have found it to be a fulfilling and rewarding experience that has enriched my experience of Playa del Carmen.

Every Wednesday afternoon, a group of about ten volunteers give an hour of their time to a group of very enthusiastic grade two and three kids at a local school, helping them to improve their English skills.

Games, reading, comprehension, drawing and story telling are just some of the activities program coordinator Janet employs to keep the kids entertained and engaged while they learn valuable language skills.

playa del carmen kids

On my first day volunteering with the program, I was touched by the warm welcome we received by both the kids and teachers. We were assigned to a table of about six students to carry out the activities and they participated enthusiastically with lots of smiles all round.

An hour flew by and I was amazed by the politeness and eagerness of my group. I have since returned week after week, enjoying the interaction with the other volunteers as well as the students. It has become one of the highlights of my week here in Playa and has given me a greater feeling of connection with this town I love so much.

It feels good to be able to give something back to the community whilst seeing a different side of Playa del Carmen that many tourists don’t get to experience.

*For more information, to sign up for the volunteer program, or to make a donation to the school supplies fund, email kkisproject@gmail.com.