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Foot-stompin’ concert real crowd pleaser

It was a hand clappin’, thigh slappin’, foot stompin’ reception for newly arrived snowbirds and locals who shelled out 60 pesos for a 500-pesos concert promoted as the first of this season by the Puerto Aventuras Cultural Committee Friday night at the Cultural Center on Bahia Akumal.

The hands-down star of the Canadian “Bowfire” group, albeit all four were talented musicians, was triple-threat fiddler Stephanie Cadman of Ottawa. She emitted more magnetism than the true North Pole with her delicate voice, explosive step-dancing and fiddlin’ around that had the crowd of more than 250 up on its own toes with applause and appreciation.
It didn’t take long for the audience to warm to her unadorned physical presence, unpretentious manner and obvious talents. When she offered a quick-course on stage of  Ottawa step-dancing 101, the venue filled quickly with takers eager to emulate.
The event was billed as a night of eclectic fiddlin’ encompassing celtic, gitano, bluegrass and jazz “Manouche,”  the latter a strain of gypsy swing developed in 1930s France. The style was perfected by guitarist Django Reinhardt using only three fingered chords on the guitar and a heavy down-strumming style dubbed “la pompe.” This fabled fashion was represented by special guest artist  Bogdan Djukic of Serbia and Playa del Carmen who soloed several lilting numbers evoking memories of those mysterious 1930s gypsy movies.

But for most of the evening, the beat was snappy, bouncy, wide awake Irish jigs, Creole “kwadril” and rugged and rural Nova Scotia seacoast squares with happy notes bouncing through the cultural center’s open environs, slamming into concrete walls then disappearing softly into the palapa roof.
The tuneful treat evoked images of Nova Scotia and Canadian hinterlands down to the cajun country of “Loosiana,” musically tracing, it seemed, the bittersweet trek of “Evangeline” in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s epic poem of the expulsion of Acadians to their rebirth as ‘cajuns of the swamplands.
It was refreshing to witness also the broad smiles, the hugs and spirited chatter of snowbirds renewing old friendships and forging  new ones in this earthy place that parrots Paradise.
Daniele Gracis, PA’s cultural guru, was ecstatic at the 250-plus turnout, saying the concert, a bit early in the season to attract a crowd that isn’t all here, just “fell out of the sky” as the opportunity presented itself in surprise fashion.
It seems the Canadians, Cadman, Shane Cook and Jake Charron, all versatile and accomplished on several instruments, were visiting with Djukic in Playa del Carmen and agreed to a performance in PA, for which, one might add, PA is most grateful. Perhaps they will return for an encore next year?
In the meantime, Gracis, in cooperation with the Colonos, is planning more musical events. They will be reported by the Pelican Free Press as they develop.
Anat Kah community fund reports on progress

Anat Kah logo

Reprinted newslwetter with type editing only
Submitted by Christine Alexnder,

    With a relatively calm hurricane season (except for the past week) behind us, cooler days and a busy high season ahead, we write to fill you in on Anat Kah’s activities since the spring, and to let you know what we have planned for the rest of the year to include High School Progress, Upcoming Medical Mission Trips, Anat Kah 2011 Grantees, After School Activity Scholarship Program, Anat Kah-Sponsored Workshops Regarding Sexuality and Violence Piloted in the High School and Hermanitos Puerto Aventuras 2011-2012

High School Progress

Our high school construction project in the Poblado is in its final stages. Thanks to donations from the spring golf tournament as well as from the Dave Harris Memorial Fishing Tournament, we were able to get the windows and doors built and installed, a project that led to the installation of electrical cabling and the purchase of light fixtures, toilets, sinks, etc.
A major piece of infrastructure that is still pending at the school is electricity. We are waiting for the government to bring electrical lines down to the site so that outdoor security lighting can be installed as well as bathroom lights, fans and other indoor electrical needs. Additionally, the plumbing and septic systems in the plan require electricity. The administration and parents of the school have been working with the delegado of Puerto Aventuras to lobby the municipal government to get the lines in.
In the meantime, however, we are working with the school on a plan to install solar lighting alternatives, as well as a temporary gravity fed septic system, in order to get the classroom in use as soon as possible. The school is understandably wary about moving costly supplies and furniture to a space with no security lighting, so we are trying to resolve that issue in collaboration with them. There are currently five groups of students studying high school in theCasa del Pueblo and in a mobile classroom that has been set up next to it. This is just not enough space, and our goal, with the school, is to get one group of students into their new classroom by the beginning of November.

Upcoming Medical Mission Trips to Puerto

Anat Kah is pleased to be helping coordinate two medical mission trips in Puerto Aventuras this November to kick off our new community health initiative that will culminate in the opening of a community health clinic in the Poblado in December (if all goes according to plan!). The clinic will provide quality non-emergency medical care, psychological services and alternative medical treatments at a very low cost to all members of the community.
One of the medical mission trips in November, led by Dorothy Malone-Rising of the Diabetes Center of Lamoille Valley in Vermont, will be focused on diabetes detection and education, and the other, led by Dr. Keith Apelgren of Michigan, will concentrate on general treatment and surgery for conditions such as hernias, cysts, scars and gallbladder.

To prepare for the missions, we are looking for local homeowners who are willing to donate their condominium or home to the visiting health care professionals for the duration of their mission. If you would like to contribute to the missions in this way, or would like to offer time or other services for the visiting doctors and nurses, please contact our health program coordinator,Claudia Muñoz.
Funds are currently needed for start-up operational costs and rent of a centrally located space in the Poblado for the health clinic. Eventually, we hope that the clinic will become more self-sustaining as a small donation will be required from patients for every service provided.
If you would like to support the health clinic project with a financial donation, please click here and specify in your donation form that your gift is for the health clinic.

Anat Kah 2011 Grantees

Despite our financial focus on the construction of the first phase of the high school this year, we were still able to provide grant funding to five local projects and organizations in Puerto Aventuras who applied for Anat Kah support. Each year we send a call for proposals to local organizations and projects, and each project must submit a complete application, with a budget, by a certain deadline. Anat Kah reviews the applications, sometimes requesting more information from the applicants, and makes grant decisions based on fund availability and the potential impact that the project may have on the community.

Our current grantees are:

Friends of Puerto Aventuras, to whom we are providing funds to cover their portion of the rent of classroom space in the community center, their portion of the maintenance as well as a percentage of the adult English teacher´s salary. This is an important and long-running program in the Poblado, that has provided English, computer and other training to many of the workers around town for over 12 years, as well as after-school activities for children in the Poblado.

Puerto Aventuras Educators, to whom we are also providing funds to cover their portion of the rent of classroom space, maintenance, as well as a percentage of their new children´s English teacher´s salary. PAE not only provides support for the children’s English program in thePoblado, but has also been giving scholarship stipends to middle, high school and now university students from the Poblado for over 10 years.

Patas (“paws” in Spanish), to whom we are providing continued support through the purchase of medications, vaccinations and supplies for their animal welfare clinic in the Poblado. They are open every Saturday, providing medical attention, vaccinations, flea baths and other vet services at a low or no cost for all animals in Puerto Aventuras.

Anat Kah 2011 Grantees, continued

Transformar Educando, A.C., to whom we have provided funds to support their women’s sewing program and workshop. Last year’s donation allowed them to purchase three new sewing machines, and we are now supplementing that investment with the purchase of sewing materials such as thread, needles and fabric.

Sewing courses are offered to local women in the program, and, once trained, they can then go on to produce clothing and other products through the workshop, which receives orders from local hotels, spas and other businesses.

Individuals can also benefit from the talents at the sewing workshop. If you have a dress that you would like replicated, or an idea for an item of clothing that you would like designed, or just a pair of pants that need hemming, feel free to stop by! They are at the Community Education Center (also known as Educentro), next to the Casa del Pueblo and before the Telesecundaria(middle school) in the Poblado.

La Casa del Arte Puerto Aventuras, a new community art program founded by artist Odette Dithurbide, to whom Anat Kah is providing scholarship funds for 11 students (youth and single mothers) to participate in regular art workshops, creating paintings, drawings, stained glass, mosaics and carved wood pieces that can then be sold to provide income for the program and its participants.

Odette is a teacher and artist from Cuernavaca who has worked for several years bringing productive and artistic workshops to impoverished and indigenous communities, particularly in northern Mexico, giving participants alternative income making opportunities through the design and production of products that can be sold to tourists. Odette’s vision for the program in Puerto is for it to become self-sustaining through the sale of the students’ work, as well as to give back to its supporters, as she did with the donation of a glass hurricane lamp that was sold at Anat Kah’s January auction.

Anat Kah has also supported La Casa del Arte with the donation of art supplies, many of which have been donated by community members and also brought down by participants in the Dave Harris Memorial Fishing Tournament in the spring.

After School Activity Scholarship Program

We are now coming into our third year of providing scholarship support to academically qualified children with financial need in Puerto Aventuras who wish to participate in after-school activities in the community. So far this year, we have students participating in the sailing club and jazz dance classes. We hope to be able to open a swimming class or two, as well.

All participants in the program must have a 9.0 or higher grade average (10 is the highest) and must have demonstrable financial need. Each program has a cost of approximately 300 pesos a month, and each scholarship recipient must contribute 100 pesos per month to their class.

If you are interested in sponsoring a student to participate in the program, please feel free to make a donation through our Friends of Fund, or contact scholarship program coordinator Gilda Peregrina.

Anat Kah-Sponsored Workshops Regarding Sexuality and Violence Piloted in the High School

As many may remember, in late 2010 and early 2011 Anat Kah sponsored a series of capacity building workshops with local women, promoting positive growth and the development of leadership skills. These workshops were led by psychologist Elsa Solis (pictured at left) who has returned to Puerto Aventuras this fall, with the support of Anat Kah, to bring weekly workshops regarding sexuality and violence to high school students in the Poblado. We were able to work with the school to incorporate the workshops into the school day, guaranteeing participation (or at least attendance!) from more than 30 students each week.
Elsa hopes to continue her work with these students next semester in a workshop that will develop the youth’s leadership skills, forming them into community promoters who will work with their peers and other community leaders around important issues in the community.

¡Hermanitos! Puerto Aventuras 2011-2012

¡Hermanitos! Puerto Aventuras is back in session for its third year of activities and fun with high school students from Colegio Puerto Aventuras and children from the daycare center in the Poblado of Puerto Aventuras.

In order to provide effective and strategic support to this diverse group of programs, as well as to continue to operate our own initiatives this year (including the community health clinic and the after school activity scholarship fund), we need your help.
Our ability to give is based on your willingness to give.
Please click here to give today. If you would like your gift to go to a particular project or area of interest (youth and education, health and well-being or community development), please let us know

Promoting community participation, social investment, and sustainable development in the Riviera Maya.

© 2011 Anat Kah

Briefly Noted….

Compiled from staff, contributor and media reports
RAINS HAVE COMPOUNDED problems with rubbish collection and potholes in Playa’s ejido colonies where trash can remain uncollected for a week. The problem evidently has not affected the PA Colonos area as municipal packer trucks are heard rumbling through in the wee morning hours…TAX EVADERS, some 80,000 of them, are being targeted in Q. Roo by the Tax Administration Service for not reporting total income. Being questioned are the targets’ cash bank deposits…

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