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Patronato Pro Ninos Historical Walking Tour

By Patronato Pro Niños

Back in the early 1970s, Stirling Dickinson would take his VW bus out into the campo, first to provide shoes and warm clothes to the kids of poor families, then toothbrushes and toothpaste to help them keep healthy smiles. Basic as that help was, it was important and laid the foundation for Patronato Pro Niños, which for decades has sent up to five medical and dental vans to the campo every weekday to provide free professional dental and medical care to children and teens whose families lack insurance or the resources to provide it themselves.

Then a little over 10 years ago, a clinic was built in San Miguel, staffed with a doctor, dentist and psychologist, as well as a social worker to help families get the help they need, either directly from Patronato Pro Niños or hospitals and specialists in the area.

Over the years, Patronato Pro Niños has made a big difference in the lives of literally thousands of kids in and around San Miguel de Allende. And it’s all been done through donations. A key source of financial support has been provided since 1991 by the organization’s Historic Walking Tour, giving residents and visitors alike a grounding in San Miguel’s nearly 500-year history while visiting historic buildings and churches.

The 21/2 hour tour starts in the Jardin in front of the Parroquia every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 10:00am and the donation of $400.00mxn per person goes directly to ensuring that Patronato Pro Niños’ delivers services to the neediest children of San Miguel and the surrounding area.

The Historical Walking Tour is the only tour that once the guides are paid, all other proceeds go to a local NGO. And from the beginning, the tours were completely a voluntary operation. A noted historian and writer crafted the first script for the volunteer guides to follow. Three people showed up for the first tour. Eight pesos were collected. City police quickly stepped in and said a permit was required. The mayor at the time supported Patronato Pro Niños mission, but added that the history of the city belonged to the Mexicans who created it and needed to be more accurate and fully documented. Persuaded those conditions had been met, the tours were allowed to continue. Word quickly spread and the tours expanded to two days a week, then three. Once the historical material for new scripts had been documented, additional tours were offered: one focused on the architecture of the Centro, another on four historical churches, and private tours joined the mix.

Along the way, the financial support for the organization’s mission also grew significantly, at one time providing nearly a third of the organization’s operating budget. Then Covid struck, tourism took a huge hit and the tours stopped. Yet Patronato Pro Niños continued to pay its doctors, dentists and others to be ready to resume care as soon as the pandemic allowed.

As tourism slowly recovered, the city government, aware of how hard the pandemic had been on Mexican guides, decided to enforce its rule that only Mexican certified guides could give tours. Dali Amaro became chief guide, with volunteer greeters continuing to organize participants, share information about Patronato Pro Niños and collect and bank the donations.

The 33 years of the Historic Walking Tours is a reflection of Patronato Pro Niños long-term vision of focusing on children, knowing healthy children grow up to build healthy communities. It’s an effort which Betse Davies, longtime volunteer guide and then, for 16 years, its leader, described as one way to repay the wonderful community which we have happily adopted.

Contact Patronato Pro Niños at www.patronatoproniñ and learn about their goals and how to donate to their program.

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