On September 15, approximately 70 guests attended the Niños de Chapala y Ajijic (NCA) Moroccan-themed “Rock the Casbah” fundraiser, dining on Chicken Tagine, served with rice, seeded rolls and a tantalizing Moroccan carrot salad.
Dinner was topped off with a slice of rich chocolate cake for dessert.
Antonio Pinto, a local eye doctor, donated and prepared the tasty meal, while NCA President Doug Friend and his wife Nancy donated the cost of the beverages. Due to their generosity, the event incurred minimal expenses, which translated into more money for the children.
“For the Love of Education,” NCA’s tagline, succinctly describes this non-profit that just celebrated its 41st year of incorporation. Formed in 1977 in Chapala by a group of Mexicans who believed strongly in education, NCA assists underprivileged children and young adults in the Lake Chapala area to achieve their maximum educational potential.
NCA’s role is to connect sponsors – typically those from north of the border – with children living in and around lakeside.
Said Friend, “These children are often bright and capable but come from families with not enough money to keep their children in school. As a result, many of these children drop out of the forth and fifth grades to help their families with the task of earning money.”
Lilia Quezada, an NCA volunteer, was helping out at the event. “As one of the only Mexican volunteers at NCA, I act as a liaison for those who want to help the children but don’t know how to get started,” she said. “I also tutor children, assist in the office, and help with fundraising events such as this one. Having been a preschool teacher, my passion is all about education.”
Doug Huffines, a guest at the event who is involved with a number of lakeside charities, hosted NCA’s March, 2018 fundraiser, held at Ajijic’s old Hacienda del Lago. “Lakeside has so many wonderful organizations and I like to support them, NCA included,” he said. “Those of us who attend fundraisers know what the purpose is and enjoy socializing with and sharing our abilities to give with like-minded people. These fundraising events are not only helpful for the kids, but for the donors as well.”
According to Friend, NCA has sponsored close to 300 students, with their academic levels ranging from kindergarten to university. The organization supports costs such as school fees, uniforms, books and supplies.
NCA alumni can now be found working in law, medicine, accounting, marine biology, teaching and engineering, as well as other disciplines.
“Rock the Casbah” was the fourth fundraiser that the Friends have hosted at their lovely home in Ajijic. “About 25 percent of the guests at Sunday’s event hailed from Las Güeros, the
motorcycle club that I’m a part of,” Friend noted.
Overall, from ticket sales and the no-host bar to the 50/50 raffle and the live and silent auctions, NCA raised a little over 45,000 pesos, which everyone is pleased about.
Of the funds raised by NCA, 95 percent goes directly to the families for their children’s education expenses, while the organization retains five percent for overhead costs, such as their building in Chapala and three hired staff members. The families of the sponsored students bring their receipts to staff members, who record the donations.
“This way we know that the money is being spent correctly,” Friend said.
Toward the end of the event, Friend’s new band, Echoes, played a sampling of Pink Floyd songs to an enthusiastic crowd in his cozy studio space. With Friend on drums, Arnold Pilanco on guitar and vocals, Jorge Orendain on keyboard and Bob Steadman on bass, the band’s slick musicality definitely shined though.
“We wanted to give our guests a preview of what we’ve been working on,” Friend said.
How fortunate for the guests.
For information about NCA, see lakesideninos.org.