International Women’s Club of Merida Thank you Fiona… Welcome Connie

The International Women’s Club of Merida (IWC) has been an active presence in our city for more than 35 years. Like many women’s clubs all over the world, ours was initially formed so that women could meet and make friendships. Moving to a new country always entails a period of cultural adaptation, and lots of international women living in Merida say the IWC has helped them understand and get through the process.  Many Mexican women also join the IWC… for the most part they have lived or studied in the USA or Canada, and when they return to Merida, they look for opportunities to practice their English. And as the women help one other, they also help the community in many ways:.

  • Some members tutor students in English, at city schools and at the Merida English Library.
  • Others knit warm caps, hand out activity books, and raise money to pay for medicines needed by the Children’s Cancer Hospital.
  • The group supports a small medical dispensary in the village of Baca…
  • And an afterschool program for young girls at “Nueva Vida”, in the southern part of the city.
  • Several members offer their time (and a lot of love) at CAIMEDE, the State of Yucatan’s orphanage.
  • IWC members also help out, and attend, the fund raising events of other altruistic groups in the city… such as animal shelters, the Red Cross, civic improvement groups, and more.
  • However, the majority of the club’s resources go towards their Scholarship Program. Each year, the members fully sponsor three young Yucatecan women by covering all their university costs, books and transportation needs. Over the years, the 30+ scholarship recipients have graduated from Medicine, Law, and from other faculties.

All club members feel that when one woman achieves a university education, the whole family is helped and positively changed for generations to come.

Past and present IWC educational, self improvement and entertainment activities include courses, concerts, exhibits, lectures, day trips and week-long excursions, parties, dances, game nights, workshops and retreats. One member is currently hoping to start a choral group; another urges us to take up Salsa dancing, and yet another is into belly dancing. One afternoon a month, a tea is held, and one morning there is a coffee, at a member’s home. Also once a month, a restaurant breakfast buffet is organized for members and their guests.

A large number of former IWC presidents attended the January General meeting

Needless to say, all this activity requires umpteen hours of organization and follow-up, and the IWC’s five member Board is responsible for all this. Our club has recently completed a stellar two year period with an extremely capable and dedicated Board, led by President Fiona Wilmot. I would venture to say that Fiona made a positive impact on every single member of the club. And now Connie Burke (who served as Secretary on Fiona’s board) will be our new president.

Fiona and Connie
Scholarship committee chairperson, Claudia Amaro with Celia, one of the current recipients.

We all look forward to Connie’s term. She too is a delightful, positive woman with a great sense of humour, a lot of life experience, wisdom and skills. Her Board is comprised of two women that she worked with while a part of the out-going team: Viviana Ramos and Kiki Molin. New members to Board positions are Joan Ileson-Combee and Roberta Ginsberg.


Lots of members

The International Women’s Club has a membership of more than 100 women from all over the globe. I for one, have made life-long friends through the IWC. Wherever women live, they need to feel useful and to have other female friends. So if you are feeling a need of some positive companionship and purpose… I urge you to come to a general meeting, held the last Saturday of each month at 9:30 am: The venue is a local college, TTT, located on Calle 57 No. 492, Between 56th & 58th, Centro. You don’t need an invitation, just show up… you’ll feel welcome. Or you can read more about the club at:  And if you have any questions, you can leave a message there.

Connie Burke – new iWC President

My Sister’s Closet

The “snowbirds” are in Yucatan right now, and the year-round international residents find themselves with much more company than during late spring through early fall. Right now there are a lot of dinners and cocktail parties, special events.

And in order to have the support of winter friends, many service groups based in Merida and along the beach, hold their fund raisers during this period. Among such groups is “El Programa de Apoyo Escolar de Chuburna Puerto A.C.” (The Port of Chuburna School-Aid Project) They have a facebook page: Apoyo Escolar Chuburna Puerto. They also have a website: Take a look at both, and see all the great resources this group of dynamic women provides for their community’s local children. I read all the info pages and I learned…

Chuburná Puerto is a town of approximately 2,500 people, most of whom are under 18 years of age. Elementary school is “free” in México, however, the children require uniforms, shoes, books, school supplies, and there are costs that the parents must meet – so actually – it is not affordable for many of the town’s poorest families. Studnts who want to attend high school must cover  registration and exam fees,  books, supplies and transportation.

Believing that education is imperative for a better future, Canadian Beverly Melchior, along with Americans Marta de Quesada and Nancy Draper,  FOUNDED El Programa de Apoyo Escolar de Chuburná Puerto.  

Since the idea took hold in these women’s minds, it has grown from a concept to a reality. In May 2009, the women began the program by matching sponsors with 39 local students; they became a registered Mexican Charity on August 14, 2014, and now have well over 100 students enrolled in the program. Their Mission is to foster the education and well-being of school aged children (4th grade through high school) in Chuburná Puerto, Yucatán, México-

This non-profit charity is overseen by a volunteer board of directors &  supported by members of the International Community.

Yesterday, January 23rd, “Apoyo” held it’s number #1 fun & fund raiser of the year – now in its 10th year –“My Sister’s Closet” – a fashion show / boutique / Silent Auction / Raffle. I am often out-of-town  on the date of the extravaganza, so this was my first time to attend, and I must say I was blown away by the energy and creativity of this group. I also felt humbled by their generosity.

To keep costs down, the organizers of “My Sister’s Closet” did not choose a high-end venue for their fiesta. “Sala de Fiestas Emily’s” is a big “warehouse-looking” building – in a unusual location – right across from the graveyard. The volunteers made spectacular festive decorations, modeled the clothing with elán, and collected the gorgeous boutique and raffle items. The Apoyo members’ husbands, boyfriends, brothers and uncles all gave of their time and did a bang-up job as waiters and hosts.


Our delicious lunch… also prepared by volunters

The tasty sandwiches, spinach salad and pudding dessert wiere prepared by yet another hard-working group of volunteers. All the happy attendees received pretty fans and a serving of botana. Delicious!

Last but not least, the Silent Auction also caught the interest of everyone attending the event; the organizing committee want to acknowledge the 85 + generous donors, and the volunteers who managed the Silent Auction… they made this portion of the “My Sister’s Closet” most successful to date.

There is so much more I could say about this fundraiser… BUT a picture is worth a 1,000 words, and here you have a slideshow with a few of my cell phone snaps…


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Great job Ladies! I am already looking forward to next year.