The Sistema Nacional para el Desarrollo Integral de la Familia; SNDIF or just DIF, is a Mexican public institution of social assistance that focuses on strengthening and developing the welfare of Mexican families. The Mexican president credited with the formation of DIF is President José López Portillo y Pacheco who was president from 1976 to 1982. His wife, Carmen Romano Nolk de Portillo, took a leading roll in the development of DIF and became its first National Director. Since that time and following her lead, the National Director of DIF has traditionally been the First Lady of Mexico. Local chapters of the DIF report to municipal presidents and governors and traditionally their spouses head up the local chapters. The mission of DIF is to improve the situation of vulnerable children, youth, seniors and persons with disabilities by driving public policies and administrating projects that promote social welfare and family integration.

DIF Playa del Carmen 

On Monday, I had an opportunity to visit DIF Playa del Carmen, tour the facilities, learn about their programs and discuss ways in which the Playa expat community can contribute to projects and initiatives in the community. I joined Russell Granger accompanied by his assistant/translator Roberto, Gayle Collins and Heather Anderson to meet with Isabel Lara, Director of Therapies at the Centro de Rehabilitación Municipal de Solidaridad (CRIM) a division of DIF. Inaugurated in 2011 under Municipal President Román Quian Alcocer, the CRIM center was created to fill the unique and varied needs of Playa del Carmen residents with disabilities of all kinds, physical, emotional and developmental. DIF works with people at all economic levels and carefully determines what people are able to pay, works with seguro popular and IMSS and helps them to get affordable or even free assistance.DIF also manages a number of social programs for the elderly, children and families.

DIF Playa del Carmen 

Recently, Playa del Carmen Rotary Club Seaside, donated a much needed boiler to the physical therapy unit to feed two hydro-therapy units which had previously stood unused for lack of hot water. With the municipal coffers virtually empty until "predials" come due at the end of this year, DIF and other governmental agencies are woefully underfunded. These units assist in therapies of adults and children recovering from injuries or suffering from physical disabilities such as muscular dystrophy. It was great to see them up and running and the staff was visibly grateful for the donation. We visited the physical therapy studio which houses the hydro-therapy units as well as the rooms set up for occupational therapy and visual brain stimulation.

DIF Playa del Carmen DIF Playa del Carmen

CRIM Playa del Carmen

CRIM Playa del Carmen
Very trippy.

The next stop on our tour was to the Centro de Órtesis y Prótesis, a simple workshop which houses the only prosthetic limb fabrication center on the Riviera Maya. This small operation provides ALL of the prosthesis and anatomic braces for patients from Felipe Carillo Puerto all the way to Puerto Morelos. Raul, a modern day Geppetto, creates each piece by hand, each carefully fitted to match its new owner perfectly. Raul also provides temporary prosthetic limbs for patients to use in physical and occupational therapy sessions to prepare themselves better for life with the finished limb. While patients are required to pay for their prosthetic piece, a range of materials is available from the very high-tech to the very basic, and the labor is free. Raul then makes contact with the vendors, orders and takes delivery of the materials and constructs the piece. Raul took us through the process from beginning to end. He showed us a prosthetic leg that he was putting the final touches on an explained that this limb, which cost its owner 15,000 pesos, would cost upwards of 15,000 USD in the United States. He admitted that he has done custom pieces for people from the US and Canada who could otherwise not afford them. 

 



Lupita....

Our final stop was a sit-down with Luis Miguel Campos, Director of Operations for DIF. Russell on behalf of his Amigos Network and Gayle representing The KKiS Project and Christmas Dreams both wanted to familiarize Luis Miguel with their projects in the community and asked for the organizations support and guidance in finding areas of great need in Solidaridad. Russell has already been instrumental in connecting DIF with local community groups and helped orchestrate the donation of the hot water heater from the Seaside Rotary Club. Gayle was able to confirm the needs of a remote community called Nuevo Noh Bec and arranged for our group to visit the community together with Luis Miguel. We also introduced the Christmas Dreams project and got the thumbs up to support the children Nuevo Noh Bec this year. Luis Miguel is taking on the task of finding 200 elders in need to receive blanket and dispensas. One of our main concerns is that we might be targeting groups or communities who have already received assistance. With the help of DIF, we can be sure that our efforts are going to those who are truly needy. Luis Miguel is on the same page and it looks like a nice partnership with DIF is being formed.

DIF Playa del Carmen 

So far, without exception, everyone we have met at DIF has been welcoming and excited to work together with The Amigos Network, KKiS, Christmas Dreams, the Seaside Rotary Club and other local community groups. There is a lot of need in Solidaridad and limited funds to help everyone. Working together we can improve the lives of many more Playense.

 

Michele Kinnon
Michele Kinnon
and her husband Rob are the owners of BuyPlaya Real Estate Advisors and FurnitureMEX, both based in Playa del Carmen, Mexico. Michele is a member of Rotary Club of Playa del Carmen Seaside and participated on the founding committee for Taste of Playa, the Riviera Maya's largest and longest running culinary festival. She also blogs, writes local interest articles and administrates the Riviera Maya Events Calendar. Michele and Rob have lived in Playa del Carmen with their two children since 2004. Follow her updates on Google+.