The name Liga MAC, A.C. tells a great deal about the founding of the organization. Liga MAC’s founder, Pearl Pardy an ex-pat Brit by way of Canada, called together a number of friends and neighbours on her birthday, January 25, 1997 to discuss a way of banding together to help the local poor.
That “band” or “liga” represented 3 nations: Mexico, America (USA), and Canada. Thus the name Liga MAC was born. Initially the group pooled their own resources to help their maids and gardeners but then gradually expanded to help those referred to the fledgeling charity by church groups and others.
During the winter months when the US and Canadian members were on hand, the group met once per month at a member’s home. They often held in-house raffles to raise money for their projects with the “winner” producing the prize (often baked goods) for the next month’s raffle.
Funds raised provided food hampers, medicines, trips to the doctor, prescriptions, clothing, baby formula, diapers, and blankets in winter.
Their referrals often took them out to remote farms and small communities rimming San Jose del Cabo.
At that time the population of San Jose del Cabo was roughly 25,000 with those on the fringes living at a subsistence level. Government medical insurance was accessible only by the privileged few. When the “free” Seguro Popular medical insurance was introduced in 2004, Liga MAC helped many families register for this government program.
Fonatur, the tourism and development branch of the federal government, was putting Los Cabos on the tourist destination map. San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas went from being sleepy little fishing villages in the 1960’s to being the jewels at the end of the Transpeninsular highway when it was completed in 1973.
In the 1980’s Fonatur promoted the development of 5 potential tourist destinations in Mexico including Los Cabos. By the late 1990’s resort and golf course development had begun in Los Cabos and a workforce was imported from mainland Mexico. The population influx created many social and infrastructure issues. Most of the workforce was uneducated and unhoused. Squatters built illegal “carton” shacks on the “free” land in arroyos only to have them washed away in the annual storms.
By the early 2000’s, Liga MAC was attracting many volunteers to serve a much larger clientele.
In order to help more people, more funds needed to be raised and in order to raise funds, Liga MAC needed to add the A.C. to its name. Asociación Civil, is the federal designation which signifies that a charity is able to raise funds for its mission. The group moved beyond raffles and was able to solicit donations and hold fundraisers.
Many in the group realized that more needed to be done besides tending to basic needs. The average education level in Mexico was Grade 6 due in part to the fact that in junior and senior high school students were required to wear uniforms to school. The cost of uniforms was prohibitive for a family whose income was $10 US per day.
A new program was developed in 2004 to help students stay in school, graduate from high school and acquire better paying jobs thereby ending the cycle of poverty. At the time Liga MAC operated three programs: basic needs, medical, and education.
In September 2014, Los Cabos and particularly San Jose del Cabo was hit by the major CAT 3 Hurricane Odile. The community including Liga MAC, with its centrally located and appropriately named Centro de Apoyo (help centre) in Zacatal, sprang into action providing water, food and medical supplies to the hard-hit area.
As Los Cabos continued to experience wild growth, more charitable organizations emerged covering a range of needs. In 2017, with the understanding that some of it’s programs were now being offered by other charities, Liga MAC’s board of directors made the mission altering decision to concentrate on the educational health of San Jose’s students. Liga MAC’s educational support program to help students stay in school was broadened to include 9 additional programs designed to increase learning capacity. At the same time, Liga MAC’s staff were available to deal with any medical, physical or emotional issues their students might be facing.
In March 2020, the COVID 19 pandemic reactivated the community effort begun in 2014 and saw Liga MAC’s Centro de Apoyo become a hub for the distribution of community care packages. As we begin to emerge from the grasp of the pandemic and reflect on Liga MAC’s 25 year history of community involvement, it is clear that Pearl Pardy’s vision of helping her community those many years ago lives on in the charity she created.
With the help of hundreds of volunteers and thousands of donors Liga MAC has been able to assist tens of thousands of local residents through major devastation and change the lives of nearly 7 thousand students. In the words of Pearl from the 20th Anniversary: Viva Mexico! Viva Liga MAC!