Cancun, Mexico: Children of the Night

Finally! I could take a sigh of relief before I immerse myself in one of the most challenging, yet fulfilling Masters programs in the country.
In less than two weeks I will be continuing my academic endeavors at the University of Southern California for a Masters in Social Work. You see, in the previous weeks I worked as an Upward Bound resident advisor and mentor for high school students from Westchester High School. Over a span of six weeks I grew to love these kids, not only did I love the inside jokes, the different personalities, and the raw youth that they possessed, but also I fell in love with their abilities to wow me with their knowledge and endless potential to be the future leaders of their communities.
Prior to Upward Bound, I had somewhat of a break. I had the opportunity to hang out with friends a bit, catch up with my mom, and try to rest from the previous four years of pushing my body to intellectual emotional, spiritual, and physical limits it had never seen before. Yet, I still did not have the chance to get away and to leave behind a world that I was so accustomed to, yet challenged by. A lifestyle flooded with decisions about adult life and the constant thought of having a positive impact on my community. I have this goal of being a name and a face, a “go to guy” so to speak. An individual who works with colleagues to get things done and to make change. I believe in the innate goodness of all human beings, just somewhere along the way we get lost. We may get lost in money, women, men, drugs, media, and the list goes on. However it is up to others to encourage those lost to come back and find God. For those not so religious, to find justice and peace. (I believe faith and good works go hand in hand but that is another blog altogether.)
My sigh of relief began when my plane touched down in Cancun, Mexico. This was my escape, my chance go get away from my mind constantly teeming with social justice issues and with having to stay connected to people. This was my chance to let go! If only getting out of the country, would clear everyone’s mind and give them a new perspective at hope, wouldn’t we all be immigrants? Wait….
Anyway I was in Mexico, happy and ready to relax, eat tacos, have a drink on the beach, and sleep in. The great thing is I did all that. I did all I wanted to do, but I was still reminded of what saddens me, but also makes me feel fully alive.
Cancun is one of the biggest tourist cities in the Western Hemisphere, and with great wealth comes great poverty. For those who have been to Cancun know about the children of the night who sell woven braceletas, rosarios, bolsitas, and muñecas. I saw a child no older than 2 standing on the streets with her mom holding a handbag for sell. She was the cutest thing, but it literally broke my heart to see. There are children everywhere Cancun! On avenida Kukulkan, there are about 10 clubs in a distance of 200 meters. Many of the clubs are open for everyone to see, especially to the hungry and observant eyes of children. Promoters are constantly asking you to come to their club. Statements like “Wanna party tonight!” and “We got open bar!” were uttered repeatedly. Simultaneously, there are children walking amongst them trying to sell there handcrafted treasures. Club goers drunkly stumble out of clubs past the children, offering them nothing. I didn’t see those individuals who do offer spare change to the children, but I respect those who do. These children should not be in the streets at 2am, but the fact of the matter is, they are. I struggle with this fact. How does it make you feel?
The children are out there selling because they are trying to provide for their families. I respect and honor that, but they should not have to do that at such a young age and at that time of night. I asked a few of the children if they go to school, and they all said yes, which made me feel so much better. However school should be the main focus. Playing with their friends, hop skotch, sports, and laughing should be their main focus. I know there is another pressing issue like child trafficking associated with these types of situations. Most of the time these children are out of their moms eye-sight and could easily be taken. I think you get the picture. Now, how can we be part of the solution instead of the problem? I have a few ideas about how to alleviate this problem, but I’d like to hear your solutions as well. We must hold ourselves accountable in every situation. Although it is tough to make a huge impact overnight, continuing to chip at the cinderblock smothering the lungs of equality is something that must be done and shall be done!!!
Positively Influence,


7 thoughts on “Cancun, Mexico: Children of the Night

  1. I know how you feel. When I was in the homeland, everytime I was on my way home at night, I saw children too selling flower necklaces at lest the equivalent of about 2cents here. Its so hard to not buy from each child. Even broke my heart, when at one point i had no change, but the child asked do you have anything to drink? Its monsoon season and even in the rain these children are still out there.
    If we all do our part in doing something, the bigger picture will come together. 🙂

    1. I agree, “If we all do our part in doing something, the bigger picture will come together.” Each and everyday I am reminded of this. There is no “I” in ‘Let’s change the world.’

  2. Keyon, I just logged into LinkedIn for the first time in a bazillion years and saw the words “children of the night” and so clicked to see this. (You know my passion for “children at risk”).

    One concrete, immediate suggestion might be to join the Oasis AquaRun (Believe it or not, your old, out-of-shape teacher is doing it). They do anti-trafficking work, but also tutoring programs, etc. You can google them.

    I’m waiting to hear your own inspirations though!! I’m doing research on children at risk and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. I can send you some info sometime if you want about that or events we have at Fuller related to issues like this. Blessings!! I’m proud of you, sir!!

    1. Thank you for your response! I did some research on the the aqua run/walk. I am going to pitch it to the social action caucus at USC and see if we can get some representation down there as well as followup with tutoring opportunities as well.

      In regards to the situation in Cancun, I was thinking that the owners of those nightclubs should increase the prices about 6-12 pesos (1-2USD) and donate that money to the children who work in those parts of town. I am sure some organizational meetings would need to take place, but the club-goers will still attend the clubs even in the prices increase a little bit. It even has the ability to increase attendance because people might feel their money is going to a good cause. This is just an idea of course…

  3. Its late at night and in the midst of RA training so I am pretty tired but all I can say is that I miss you and you are one of my greatest inspirations. I am looking forward to speaking about this experience with you in person. Call me when you get back.



  4. Hi Keyon,
    I am sooo proud of you and all that you have done and continue to do. While reading your inspirations I took a few minutes to try and figure out what we as a people should be doing to help out all people in need. I came up with this, teach what we know, share what we can and love all mankind. It is hard when we do not have money to give to others but I truely believe that if we teach, share and love this world would be a better place throughout the world.
    Love mom.
    Keep up the good work

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