Welcome to Mexico
By Victoria Schmidt
Making a Difference
While sitting at the Legion one morning enjoying breakfast with my husband, I gazed outside and saw the patio filling with Mexicans. This was quite unusual. I watched perhaps 30 individuals come into the Legion and talk to an ex-pat and then watched while he addressed the group and then passed out papers. I asked of no one in particular “What is that all about?” I was told that it is a job program.
Well, this piqued my curiosity. A job program? I was impressed with what I discovered. Rony Clygnet, a Belgium ex-pat saw a need. He saw many Mexicans willing and able to work, but unable to find jobs. Meanwhile, being a part of the ex-pat community, he heard of all these ex-pats looking for Mexicans to work for them, but unable to find workers. I have frequently found myself in this position. Where do I find a good handyman? A gardener? A maid? A cook? Someone to care for a sick friend? I didn’t know where to look, or who to ask.
Rony saw the need and decided he would start a job referral program. First he approached the American Legion, Post #7 in Chapala, and asked if they would donate space for him to meet with people who are looking for work. He then placed ads in local papers and told people who are looking for work to meet with him every Monday from 9:00-11:00 a.m. He tells the potential workers that he is building a database. He collects information on these people. The information includes their names, ages, contact information, address, references and the types of work for which they are qualified. Applicants must also provide copies of their credentials and indicate if they speak English and if so, how much.
Then Rony tries to match these workers with requests he has received either in person or over the Internet. Of course, right now, the demand far exceeds the supply of jobs, but Rony is hopeful that will change as people begin to learn of his program. He has already found jobs for many people. The Legion took advantage of his program and found a part-time kitchen helper. A local real estate company has found a new employee through this program and they are completely satisfied. A woman needed to find a qualified caretaker for her housemate who was dying of cancer; she found an excellent worker and couldn’t have been more pleased.
When someone needs a worker they contact Rony who asks what kind of worker they are seeking. Then Rony provides a list of people, their contact information and referrals. It is up to the future employer to call and verify the references and interview the workers. It is also Rony’s hope that people who use his service will also let him know if the work meets expectations. That way he can build information on the most popular, most reputable workers as well.
This is one of the things I love most about Mexico. Sometimes a single person can make a difference.