Éloi Arsenault's Incredible Yearly Help to Teacher's Fund

2010
     Father Éloi Arseault of the small Acadian French community of Egmond Bay in Prince Edward Island Canada came to Puerto Vallarta for the first time.  Within weeks of arriving, he began seeing the need around him and the incredible poverty that families in this tourist paradise.    
    Tom Landry is another Canadian from Moncton NB, Canada who raises money every year to buy gifts for children, to be given at their school's Christmas Party.  That year Tom introduced Father Éloi to Art Fumerton.  
    Art is well know in Puerto Vallarta.  He has been helping to feed and educate children since 1998 in areas such as the Dump and Volcanes.   At that time, underage and even pre-school children were working, in horrendous conditions, on a daily basis at the dump.   Art was instrumental in stopping this practice.
     Art Fumerton then took Father Éloi and several others to visit the poorest areas of the city which included the Volcanes school.   This small area of the city or Colonia is far from the golden sands and warm waters of the Pacific.  Colonia Volcanes is set at the base of the mountains surrounding the city, far from the ocean, where land and rent is affordable.  The individuals living in this area are those who work for dollars in wages, six days per week, in hotels and restaurants of the luxury oceanside resorts.  
     At the Volcanes school (grades 1 to 6) Father Éloi met the school principal who had succeeded, in 2007, in getting  funds to replace the overcrowded and dilapidated four room schoolhouse which had been built by a Canadian Aid Agency a decade before.  The government then built a new school in this poorest area of the city.  However, a new school but no funding for extras such as toilet paper, chalk, erasers, paper, or other day to day necessities such as English and Computer classes.  The children need to develop Computer skills and learn English.  These skills will enable them to find jobs in the tourism industry and thus break the cycle of poverty.  
     Within weeks, 
Father Éloi was spending time Saturday afternoons at Cafe Roma, a local Puerto Vallarta restaurant, which invites Volcanes school children for a "Free Weekly Pizza Party".   This restaurant has been hosting these "Free Weekly Pizza Party" for years and the children can't wait for their turn to come.  
    These "Free Weekly Pizza Party" allows people from around the world; who are enjoying the sun and sand in Puerto Vallarta, to come and meet some of of the city's poorest children.  The restaurant pays for the pizzas and drinks while tourists volunteer to become the waiters, table cleaners and cooks for a few hours.  
    The joy and smiles on the children's faces are something to behold as each of the volunteers serve the pizzas and drinks.  Father Éloi is now a regular volunteer at many of these Saturday events.

2011
     In December 2011, Father Éloi and many other volunteers helped pull off the Christmas Party for the Volcanes School.  Over 270 students (grades 1 to 6) are all excited about receiving a toy for Christmas.  The volunteers helped to shop for the presents, collected the cake and ice cream, as well as handed out the hamburgers and fries.  Each year the children vote on a choice for their Christmas Party meal and in 2011, the Burger King burger with fries won    For these children, this treat was beyond their means.    
    Luckily Peter Jendrick, another islander from Summerside Prince Edward Island in Canada, stepped forward and agreed to pay the Christmas Party meal.  Father Éloi was there handing out juice boxes to the eager and happy children of Volcanes.   The joy on the children's faces, as they saw the toys laid out before them, was incredible.  
    
Most of these children attending the Volcanes School come from very poor families, where a Christmas present for a child is simply not affordable.  The donations from friends from Canada and the US allows the Christmas party to happen.  Each and every child is given the chance to select a toy for himself.  
    Much work is needed to keep the spirit of these children and the Volcanes Community Education Project alive.  All funds raised by Father Éloi  go to pay the English and Computer teachers and each year's fundraising has made an incredible difference in the lives of the children and parents of Colonia Volcanes.



2012 - Great News from Father Éloi Arsenault in November 2012
    Much work is needed to keep the spirit of these children and the Volcanes Community Education Project alive.  All funds raised by Father Éloi go to pay the English and Computer teachers and each year's fundraising has made an incredible difference in the lives of the children and parents of Colonia Volcanes.  In early November 2012, a meeting took place in Puerto Vallarta.  The individuals participating were:
  • Father Éloi Arsenault of Egmond Bay, PEI Canada, 
  • Peter Jendrick of Summerside PEI, Canada, 
  • Art Fumerton from the Volcanes Community Education Project in Puerto Vallarta, 
  • Tom Landry from Moncton, NB, Canada.  
  •     The meeting was to bring Art Fumerton up to date on Father Éloi's promise to help pay for one teacher's salary.  Art Fumerton is spearheading a project to raise $ 3,000 for each of the eight teachers.  Imagine the surprise, when Father Éloi explained that he had raised C$ 11,036.  
        Art's reaction was, "Father Éloi, you did not make my day, you made my year."  The $ 11,036 raised by Father Éloi will pay the salaries of almost four teachers for the entire school year.  The salaries of the eight teachers is the main cost of the entire project. 

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    2013 - Father Éloi Arsenault Almost Doubles Amount Raised to $ 20,600
        In the fall of 2013, Father Éloi worked even more tirelessly to raise funds.



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    2014 - Even More Incredible Fundraising of More Than $ 24,000 by Father Éloi Arsenault
        In the fall of 2014, Father Éloi was not available to do any fundraising until quite late in the year.  In fact, he had to postpone his arrival to Puerto Vallarta by over a month.  That meant that the critical time to raise money was cut short by his busy and shrinking schedule and by ever nastier weather.
         Upon his arrival to Puerto Vallarta, one of the first people he saw was Art Fumerton who was well aware of the constraints Father Éloi had been subjected to and was ready for some bad news.  After all, practically the only cost for running the Volcanes Community Education Program is the cost of the English and Computer teachers.
         It was then that Father Éloi revealed that not only had he matched the previous years fundraising, he had surpassed it.  He had raised more than $ 24,000 to pay for VCEP Teachers at the school.  Many a tear was shed at that meeting as it meant the school could continue for another year.



    2015 - More Than $ 30,000 Raised by Father Éloi Arsenault

     
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    New school is in background.
    Volcanes parents volunteer to clean classrooms in the previously abandoned four room school on the right.
    These classrooms, on the right, are now used for Computer and English classes and a Library.
        The local government budget pays for power and local taxes for the school.  In as much as the classrooms used by the Volcanes Community Education Project are on school property, except for teachers' salaries, other costs of running the English and Computer classes are covered.   This is how so much progress is being made on so few dollars.   
        As such, the donations collected go directly to paying teacher salaries.  Father Éloi first reached out to his home French Acadian community and found eager and generous donors.  He also found generosity in the neighboring Summerside PEI area, as well as in Charlottetown.  The response from individuals, groups and associations, who read of his volunteering in Mexico in the local Summerside Journal Pioneer and the French paper La Voix Acadienne, was overwhelming to Father Éloi.   People and businesses generously donated to this great cause.
        These generous people need to be thanked and commended.   We, who work with these children in Mexico, know the difference the school courses will make in their lives.  This will certainly help to eradicate the cycle of poverty
    Refurbished Computer classroom with eager Volcanes children.