by Marjorie Garner
The members of Mexico Aikido Take Musu Aiki very generously took care of us during our visit to their city. Picking us up at the airport, we celebrated Homma Sensei’s visit with a wonderful welcome dinner at Jose and Guadalupe’s home. Everyone was very organized and solicitous, and they served us a fine Mexican meal and some awesome tequila!.
The seminar began with an opening dance performance that was very in tune with Sensei’s outlook on Aikido, a dance movement of blending with your partner. He referred back to this performance often during the seminar.
Throughout the seminar I felt an overwhelming sense of appreciation from the participants that Sensei would not only come to Mexico City to do this seminar but do it for no compensation. No matter whom I practiced with it was always indicated that I lead, I was the guest and they were the host. I felt that they were hungry for this experience and were anxious to absorb as much as possible from Sensei.
When Sensei talked about the weapons, history and techniques, everyone was noticeably engrossed and enjoying the information. The attendees mentioned to me how they appreciate that Sensei is always very down to earth and welcoming of questions.
Overall the seminar was a warm gathering and I’m glad that I was able to participate.
The purpose of this seminar was to raise money for AHAN in Mexico. This was a fund raiser for the Casa de la Amistad or “Friendship House”, a place for children to recover from chemotherapy.
Sensei and Emily were invited to visit and Yoshi and I were included in the visit. I really had no idea what to expect. I have been in nursing homes, rehab centers, hospitals and clinics and imagined this place to be similar. It was not.
From the moment we entered the grounds there was quiet. During our tour I was lucky to have Raquel to guide me and explain the facility. The children come here with one family member. They often arrive with only the clothes on their back. Upon checking in they are given bedding, towels, clothes and toys. They come from small villages and so this building can be a bit intimidating. They are taught how to use the facilities. Often they have never seen a bathroom and all its equipment. They are taught how to use it, when to use it. They are taught hygiene, how to brush their teeth, wash themselves, etc. Things which we take for granted.
This home is clean but not antiseptic. It doesn’t have any of those smells I was expecting. Raquel said that since this isn’t a hospital there shouldn’t be any unpleasant smells. The place is spotless, even where the floor meets the walls (someone must use a toothbrush for cleaning).
The one family member who is required to stay with the child is taught nutrition which is especially important to the health of the cancer patient. They are also provided with therapy to help deal with death and mourning. It is an atmosphere to encourage self-help. If special foods are needed the family member can learn their preparation in the kitchen. They have chores to do and take care of cleaning their room and doing laundry.
I was much impressed with this non-profit facility. They don’t just take the children in and give them a room to sleep in. They help the child and family to deal with a very scary situation by giving them tools for survival, which they can take back with them to their village. Cancer is not a disease we know how to prevent nor can we always halt its progress. It is terrifying to face but Friendship House helps in a warm and gentle manner.