Duncan samaritans delivering tonnes of goods to needy Mexicans

Hugo Ramirez enjoys his new wheelchair, courtesy a Cowichan couple, Terry and Anne Welch.  - courtesy Terry and Anne Welch.
Hugo Ramirez enjoys his new wheelchair, courtesy a Cowichan couple, Terry and Anne Welch.
— image credit: courtesy Terry and Anne Welch.

Most Canucks land in laid-back Huatulco, Mexico carrying bathing suits, shorts, sunscreen and sandals.

Terry Welch and wife Anne lug wheelchairs, revamped laptops, school supplies and medical goods for needy folks who’ve become friends in and around the lovely Oaxacan town of La Cucecitia.

The Cowichan Samaritans make about four annual pilgrimages to the coastal region, parking personal stuff for items needed by Mexicans living far under the Canadian poverty line: labourers, maids, waitresses, taxi drivers, clerks and students.

“We bring whatever we can get into our suitcases,” said Terry Welch, owner of Duncan’s Terry’s T.V Electronic Service.

The couple has had plenty of practice.

“We first started going down in 1999 by accident when they had the Y2K (scare), and lots of people cancelled their trips. They had a seat sale; the agent couldn’t even pronounce Huatulco,” he said. “I fell in love with the people the climate; you can’t beat it.”

It didn’t take long for the Liverpudlean to realize he and Anne could help struggling Mexicanos.

“They’re ingenious people down there; you give them a wheel, and they can make a car out of it.”

The Welches are repaid in smiles from grateful folks, some of whom have become like family.

“Some people down there have nothing, and they’re grateful to take anything they can get,” Welch said, proud of his generosity. “It’s a good, warm feeling, and good memories that last a lot longer longer than going to the best beach or restaurant in Mexico.”

This year, daughters Julie and Jacqueline are joining with their parents to experience the goodwill they’ve lovingly groomed by bringing wheelchairs, mobility aids, clothing, and even bandages.

“We’re allowed 50 pounds, and carry-ons of 40 pounds. We try and avoid paper stuff because it’s so heavy; pens, kids’ toys that are small and lightweight — some people need baby monitors.”

Stale-dated medical supplies – but not drugs — from Island Health are also ferried south. Some wheelchairs are donated by the Duncan Lions, and Cowichan Independent Living.

“My customers also come to me with things to take down — it’s a great experience.”

Part of the experience involves Gabrielle Sinobas of Mexico’s DIF welfare department.

“I give her the weight and dimensions, and they get in touch with the airlines that take it to Huatulco,” Welch said of some items.

Welch’s electrical smarts, and connections, don’t hurt when overhauling high-tech gear such as donated laptops.

“I’ve got a friend in the computer business who gives me free labour.”

He and Anne have also amassed boxes of Barbie dolls, and Barbie clothes made by Duncanite Josie South. Some of the cargo heads to various schools. Mexicans aren’t taxed on stuff like the Welchs bring in.

“We drop Canadian pins from feds government,” he said. “The kids just love them.”

Children also enjoy when the couple screens popular wrestling movies.

“I play them on a projector on the side of a building, and I buy the kids Sabritas chips.”

Their benevolence is honoured by local families.

“You’re downtown and people talk to you, and you recognize their kids — people come up and talked to us in grocery stores,” he said, citing rural poverty. “In the hills, some people live in cardboard boxes; it isn’t like Canada.”

He just gets karmic kicks from helping — while watching his bulging baggage.

“Right now, we’re about full up, but we’re always planning the next trip.”

Anyone interested in helping can call Welch at 250-715-1455.

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