Voluntarias Judeo Mexicanas (VJM) – Mexican Jewish Volunteers – became ICJW’s Mexico affiliate in 2013. They are a Jewish women’s group based in in Mexico City who help Mexican families with low incomes, working closely with a number of local educational and healthcare organizations. Currently the organization has 40 members.
Members of the VJM volunteer at the National Institute of Pediatrics, helping the child patients and their families. They do similar support work in Mexico’s General Hospital and in the Naucalpan General Hospital, visiting the various wards and offering therapeutic support. They try to provide clothes, toys, medical equipment and furniture when needed. They also work alongside the Mexican Red Cross, raising funds and providing clothing and shoes for patients who are discharged from hospital. This partnership has been active for the past 40 years, and the women of the VJM have also helped them during a number of national and local disasters.
VJM has pioneered a unique program which provides therapeutic training for disabled people using the skills of magic and illusion. “Project Magic” was pioneered by the internationally renowned illusionist, David Copperfield, who has trained the VJM volunteers and various volunteer magicians and occupational therapists. This program has proven more effective than traditional rehabilitation techniques, and the idea has been exported to Panama and Australia, with VJM’s help.
Mexican Jewish Volunteers supports four schools for children with special needs, attending the students’ graduations and performances at the schools. They run a large annual event on “Children’s Day”, preparing and serving breakfast to 500 children, and enjoying their smiles and thanks. Members of the Mexico City Jewish community provide the children with the strollers, wheelchairs, walkers and stabilizers that they need.
Volunteers from VJM work in two senior citizens’ centers, teaching classes in singing, reading, crafts and physical exercise, and leading sessions in group dynamics and emotional therapy. Another important annual project is the collection of sweaters and scarfs for donation to needy people who live in the mountains.
Lilian Grinberg, VJM’s President for the past 3 years, explains what drives their organization: “As Mexican women, we are proud of our roots, our history and cultural traditions, and we strive to create strong family bonds. We perform our voluntary work with a high level of enthusiasm and commitment, convinced that through comprehensive programs in areas such as health and education, based on ethical and work values, we can give disadvantaged people the tools to increase their living standards.”
President: Lilian Grinberg