Hekab Be’s Holiday Wish List

The holiday season is here, and we’re gearing up to have the best party ever here at Hekab Be. The more children, the more fun! Santa Claus has promised to visit us during the party as always, but this year we are going to be giving slightly different gifts to previous years.

Many of the families whose children attend Hekab Be struggle to make ends meet, and they have shared with us that they would appreciate gifts that are practical as well as fun. Gifts such as new clothes!

More practical, less plastic!

So this year we will be giving each child a set of new clothes, plus some small, fun, stocking stuffer style toys. We think this is a good middle ground where they will still have the thrill of new toys but also receive a gift that will be appreciated and used for much longer than something mass-produced in plastic.

We have 38 girls ages 3 to 12, with most aged 5 to 9. Clothes for girls would be shirts, skirts, t-shirts combos such as these on Amazon.com.mx, and sundresses such as this on Amazon.com.mx

We have 19 boys aged 1 to 12, with a pretty even distribution across the ages. Boys would love shorts and t-shirt sets such as these on Amazon.com.mx, or these Amazon.com.mx

You can buy clothes and gifts yourself, and drop them off at Hekab Be any weekday between noon and 6pm. Gifts can also be left at Turtle Bay cafe or at Super Chomak if you can’t make it by when we are open.

If you would like to buy clothes online via the Amazon.com.mx site and have them shipped to us here in Akumal, please contact Betsy for more information and a shipping address. Please don’t ship to the library – it is not secure! We suggest a price range of between $200 – $400 Mexican pesos (approximately $10 to $20 USD) per outfit.

The small toys should cost around $5 each, definitely no more than $10. The girls like unicorns, princesses, dolls, kitchen toys and and animals such as horses, dogs and cats. The boys like dinosaurs, sharks and lions, legos, cars, trucks and airplanes, and balls.

You can also donate directly to Hekab Be via Paypal. Make a note “Holiday wish list” and we will buy gifts for the children with your donation. You can also see our regular wish list here.

A Month of Cookies, Flags, Socks, and Ghouls!

This past month, the afternoon activities organized by Kaori, Lucy, and our dedicated young volunteers from Tulum and G.V.I.  have included baking cookies at Turtle Bay cafe, painting flags for the Akumal Art Festival,, trick or treating, making masks of native animals, swimming and learning about aquatic animals at the beach, learning how to dunk a basketball, and playing Twister! Plus homework help and classes in math, Spanish, English, caring for the environment, and local history and geography.

We now have a group of over 50 children, plus parents, that walk across from the Pueblo to join the classes on a regular basis. It is heart-warming to see all the happy faces, both children and adults, filling the library with noise and laughter. Kaori has really stepped into her role as Director, and Hekab Be is regaining its place as the community center it was always intended to be.

Celebrating the Spooky Season with Halloween and Hanal Pixan

As a community of many cultures, we hold celebrations for Halloween, Dia de los Muertos and the local Maya Hanal Pixan here in Akumal. So as you can guess, the end of October and beginning of November is party season! The locals are celebrating not only the festivals to honor the dead, but also the end of the slow season as it gets colder up north. We’re also celebrating the return of many familiar faces in the ex-pat community as the part-time Akumalians head back south for the winter.

Last night we had a Halloween celebration with our very own haunted house, and 90 children attended! The Haunted House was really scary fun. Thank you to our High School volunteers who spent all last week making it!

We went trick or treating in costumes around Plaza Ukana and the businesses at the arch, and enjoyed delicious pasta from La Tavera. You can see from the photos that everyone had a spookily good time! Thank you Club Akumal Caribe, Lolha, Cueva de Pescador, La tienda de artesanías, Turtle Bay Cafe and and Hotel Las Casitas for welcoming us to trick or treat at their businesses.

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We will be celebrating the traditional Maya festival of Hanal Pixan on Nov 1st with an altar, traditional pibes (chicken and corn masa steamed in banana leaves), pan de los muertos, and of course, hot chocolate. Look for photos on Facebook!

Making Flags for the Akumal Art Festival!

As part of our outreach into the community, Kaori has been working with Jennifer and Marti from the Akumal Art Festival to organize flag painting sessions. All the children from Hekab Be painted flags, as did all the children from the Akumal public schools, and Akumal’s Otoch Paal Montessori school. Over a thousand flags have been painted in preparation for November 9th through 11th, when they will decorate the streets of Akumal during the festival.

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These are just a few of the wonderful works of art they have created – you can see more on the Hekab Be facebook page, or go and see the flags flying during the Akumal Art festival!

Baking Cookies at Turtle Bay Cafe

October started out with a trip to learn how to bake at Akumal’s favorite place for sweet treats – Turtle Bay Bakery and Cafe.  Owner Jennifer Smith shared some of her trade secrets with the children, who worked together to make fresh mango cookies. Thanks Jen, the cookies were delicious!

New Socks for Everyone!

We get many wonderful donations from visitors who stop by Hekab Be, and we are always very grateful for everything you so generously gift to the children. This month we were surprised by a donation of over 30 pairs of cute socks! While we live in a tropical climate it can get chilly in the winter, and most houses have bare concrete floors and are not well sealed against cold north winds. So a pair of cozy socks for each child was a welcome and fun gift.

Please Help Us Keep Helping Others

Don’t forget to drop off donations of lightly used clothes, household items, and good condition toys for our fundraising sale in the middle of November. We are also starting to prepare for our Christmas party, and this year we’re organizing our gifts slightly differently. If you would like to make a difference in the lives of these children, you can see our wish list on the website, or contact Kaori directly through our Facebook page. You can find our Hekab Be Holiday wish list in a separate post.

Keeping Hekab Be open costs money, and some parts of the buildings are badly in need of repairs. If you wish to donate to help for ongoing operations expenses and maintenance, you can make a US tax-free donation via Paypal.

Everyone had a fantastic time at Hekab Be Summer Camp!

For three weeks this summer, Hekab Be was transformed as we explored the art and culture of Mexico, learning about the traditions of our local Maya, as well as the Aztec and Huichol cultures through crafts, theater, sports, dance, and cooking.

A total of 64 children attended camp this year, and we’re proud that tuition and supplies were covered thanks to generous donations from our friends, families of the children attending, and the Akumal business community. Thank you all!

Judging from their smiles, the children had lots of fun. Camp ended with a big celebration, where each class of children performed a play, and everyone danced the traditional Aztec “danza de los concheros,” complete with traditional dress.

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The smallest children, aged 3 to 5, were taught by Kaori. They learned about native animals from the Yucatan jungle. In their play, two explorers went into the jungle to meet the animals and learn their names in Maya.

Lucy taught the 6 to 9 years old, who performed a play about the legend of “El hijo del Maguey.” This traditional Mexican legend tells the story of Meconetzin, the son of the agave.

The older group, ages 10 to 13, were taught by Elizabeth, and created a play based on the Maya and Aztec gods. They not only performed, but wrote and directed the play and created their own beautiful costumes of the gods.

Every child who attended summer camp left with a backpack filled with supplies for the new school year, and an additional 26 backpacks with supplies were given to children who attend class at Hekab Be during the year, but were unable to attend summer camp.

Working together for the Akumal Art Festival

It wouldn’t be an Art Festival without art from the children! As part of the upcoming festival scheduled for this November, we are working with the Akumal public schools and Otoch Paal Montessori to decorate the Pueblo with beautiful, hand-painted fabric flags. We wanted to make flags that would last a while, but not become trash to litter the streets, so we are painting on fabric which will naturally decompose after a period of time. We want to include ALL the children of Akumal in this project, so if your child goes to school outside Akumal and wants to paint a flag, please contact Kaori to make sure they get an opportunity to be part of this event.

We are entering the Fall semester excited and energized, with a great group of children and volunteers. We’ve already had some great classes, including an introduction to scuba where the children made cardboard scuba gear and practiced how to descend and underwater communication. Every second Saturday you’ll find us in the ocean for real, learning to swim and just enjoying the beauty of Akumal bay.

Coming up on Oct 30th we are planning a bazaar to be held in the Akumal Pueblo. We are asking for donations of good quality clothing, small household items, and toys to sell to benefit Hekab Be. We’d also love any old bicycles (working or non-working) that we can use at the library for the children. Please drop items off at the library during open hours.

If you’d like to share you expertise with the children by teaching a class, contact Kaori. Or stop by anytime and join in the fun. Classes are Monday through Friday from 3:00pm to 6:00pm, and Hekab Be is open weekdays between noon and 6:00pm, and Saturday mornings.

Thank you for everything you do to help us provide educational and cultural opportunities for the children of Akumal.

Summer is Coming at Hekab Be

It’s Nearly Time for Summer Camp!

That’s right; we’re already gearing up for our Curso de Verano 2018! This year’s theme is The Art and Culture of Mexico and we’re busy organizing a fun and education four weeks, but we need your help!

Can you afford $300 MX (approx. $15 USD) to sponsor a child to attend our summer day camp?  Donate HERE, and note ‘summer camp sponsorship’ on the form, and a child will attend camp thanks to you! We will allocate sponsorships on a needs basis, so you can be sure it will go to a deserving child. Remember, the link is Donate!

If you’d rather donate supplies, we are very short on art and school supplies. One of the things we do for each child at the end of summer is gift them a new backpack filled with supplies for the new school year. This is not just a fun gift for the child (there’s some pretty cool stuff out there!) but also takes the time and money burden of purchasing school supplies off the parents. Come visit it us at the library any day between 10am and 6pm to drop off your gift. Thank you!

What about donating yourself?! If you are in Akumal this summer, please consider spending a day or two with us as a volunteer during summer camp. What do you love doing? Sports, arts and crafts, nature, a life experience or an unusual career … Please join us and share your passion!

Summer camp will be held from Monday 16th of July through to Friday the 10th of August. All local children are welcome; please contact Kaori for more information or to enroll your children.

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Our School Time Weekly Activities

Too much time has passed since our last blog, and we have been working hard but always making time to play! We have classes every week day afternoon from 3:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

Monday and Thursday are for homework help and practical skills classes. On these days Kaori teaches a variety of subjects including mathematics, reading, cooking, English, and Japanese.

Tuesday’s are nature classes with Elizabeth, who is teaching the children how to care for the earth by recycling, planting an organic garden, and learning about local plants and wildlife.

Wednesday is Global Volunteers International (GVI) day, where the young adults volunteering with GVI here in Akumal come and teach the children. Every week the subject is different, and once they even performed a puppet show, which was a big hit!

Friday is the day that talented local artist Rory Eade comes to teach art. If you follow us on our Facebook page you’ll know that the artwork the children create with Rory is amazing.

And Saturday, of course, is BEACH DAY! The children walk just down the road to beautiful Akumal bay for two hours building sandcastles, learning to swim, and having fun in the sun! (With proper protection of course!)

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Spring Cleanup

We took advantage of the last of the cool weather to give our property a much needed spring cleaning! Volunteers from the community, local snorkel cooperatives, GVI, and of course our regular library crew all joined forces in a massive effort in which we:

  • Rebuilt the entranceway
  • Created a garden along the entrance path
  • Cleared the parking lot
  • Spread gravel on our entrance path
  • Cleared all the trash that had been dumped in the jungle behind the library
  • Moved rocks and leaves and cleared the boundaries of the library’s lot
  • Re-secured the fence and closed off the area behind the building …
  • … and lots more!

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Thank you to ….

A shout out to to super volunteers Eileen McCormick, Rozanne Quintero, Lisa Picardi, and all the amazing Hekab Be family of volunteers, staff and children who worked so hard to make this day happen. And of course, a big HOORAH to the super generous Akumal business community who donated materials and/or employees to help us out. You rock!

Please visit and support all the local businesses when you are in Akumal, as most of them are long-time Hekab Be supporters and are always on our thank you list.

Children’s Day and Mother’s Day Celebrations

Dia del Nino is always a BIG holiday in Mexico (and why not?) This year we had TWO celebrations – we took a trip to the ruins of Tulum, where we had a guided tour of the site and enjoyed a picnic. Then we had a big party at Hekab Be, with gifts, dancing, pinatas to bash, and a wonderful cake from Jen at Turtle Bay Cafe.

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Just a few weeks later it was time to celebrate our mothers. Mother’s day is always the 10th of May in Mexico, and that afternoon we invited all the families to join their children at the library for a party. We had more fun, games and cake, and the children all gave their mothers a handmade gift.

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NOTE: Due to low attendance last month, our community Mercado is on hold until after the summer. Check back with us in October or November!





Clean Up, Carnival, And Our First Organic Art Market

Have you seen the signs on the recycling boxes by the colectivo stop on the highway? They were made by the children of Hekab Be! We helped the Pueblo community and snorkel cooperatives to clean trash from the path between the highway and the beach, and have been painting wooden signs and setting up boxes to separate trash for recycling.

painting cal
Painting trees with ‘cal’

We’re busy cleaning up, not just along the beach road, but inside the library as well. Elizabeth is teaching classes on organic gardening, and the children have transformed plastic buckets into pretty pots to grow their own mini gardens. They also painted tree trunks with ‘cal’ (powdered white lime and water), and learned how the natural material repelled bugs that harm the trees.

As well as the children’s efforts, a group of adult volunteers have been busy cleaning the bodega and sorting and shelving our English fiction collection. We have slimmed down the collection on the shelves, but we have many books for sale at just ten pesos each.

One major triumph this month was receiving the official permit from the Tulum municipality giving us rights to the parking area directly outside the library. This had been a long time in the works, and Elizabeth deserves public recognition for finally making it happen. Thank you Ely! Next up is installing a chain, cleaning the area, and clearly marking it as parking for Hekab Be use only. If you are coming to the library, we will have a small sign for you to display in your car so the police know you are visiting us and not on the beach! 🙂

Celebrating Carnival and the Organic Art Market!

The children celebrated carnival on Friday February 16th with costumes and dancing, and attendees at the Organic Art Market the next day enjoyed a repeat performance of some of the dances. Everyone was invited to join in, and we had a great time pretending to be cowboys and line-dancing along with the children. YeeHaw! It was a lot of fun, and good exercise! This video shows the children dancing. If you were at the sale and have photos or video of the sale, please post them on our facebook page. We’d love to see them!


If you missed last month’s market, we’re doing it again THIS SATURDAY MARCH 3rd 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

The Organic Art Market was such a success that we have decided to make it a regular event for the first Saturday of every month. This means that the next one is coming up THIS SATURDAY March 3rd from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

In addition to unique art work and handmade products we will have organic produce, natural therapies such as ear-candling and chair massage, and delicious local food and drink. Vendors who would like to join us for either the April 7th or May 5th markets, please message us through the Facebook page: www.facebook.com/Hekab 

Welcome Jocelyn and Mauro!

We have two new volunteers who will be assisting Ely and Kaori each afternoon. Jocelyn and Mauro are both studying Hotel Administration in Tulum, and are coming to Hekab Be as part of their work-study and community outreach program. Mauro knows Hekab Be well, as he grew up in Akumal and came to classes at the library when he was a child. Jocelyn has experience working at a Mexican library, and so is going to help catalog our extensive book collection.

Mauro and a new friend
Jocelyn and children display a bucket they just painted

Please come by the library to visit us, and to see the ongoing changes. We are open to the entire Akumal community from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and welcome everyone to come in and get away from the heat and dust of the beach road. Volunteers are welcome to join in the afternoon classes or help with clean-up, and the office is always open with free wifi and a place to sit and relax.

A New Year Brings New People

It’s been a busy start to 2018 at Hekab Be, with a change-over in staff bringing new ideas and new energy to the library.

A New Director …

Replacing Emilia as Director is Kaori Sueki, who has been working with the children as an assistant since last summer.

Kaori with Children
Kaori Sueki with two of her students

Kaori was born in Japan, but has lived in both Nicaragua and the USA. She has been a resident of Akumal for the past two years. She holds a Bachelor of Design Management from Nagoya University of Arts, with specialist certification in teaching.

As well as being an experienced teacher and artist, Kaori is fluent in Japanese, Spanish, and English. She is in charge of coordinating the library’s educational program, and welcomes visitors and residents of Akumal to come and join in with the library’s afternoon classes.

And a New Administrator …

We are also welcoming Elizabeth Bautista, known as Ely, who has taken on the role of library administrator.

Elizabeth Bautista busy getting the library’s administrative files in order

Ely is a Mexican national, and holds a degree in Environmental Technology Engineering. She recently moved to Akumal from Campeche, where she was in charge of coordinating training and development activities for the staff of Consultoría CONCES, S. C.

Although she has been on staff for less than a month, Ely has already made some wonderful changes, including sorting through and re-organizing the office filing system and book collection. She is in the library from 10:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday to Friday. Ely has studied English, but is a little rusty so she needs to practice. Please stop by and say hello to help her out!

Although Kaori and Elizabeth have jointly taken over the reins of day-to-day operations, we’re happy that both Emilia and Jake will continue to be involved with the library as volunteers. Emilia will continue to help out with special events, and Jake will be teaching art and helping with special projects.

There have also been some changes in the US non-profit Board of Directors, with Nicky Lawson, David Kustra, and Betsy Amy-Vogt joining to replace members who had to step down due to family and work commitments.

Hekab Be Needs You!

While we are blessed with a team of dedicated volunteers, we still have room for more! We have opportunities for teaching the children, assisting Elizabeth with the book collection, and we’d love a volunteer who would be willing to help out with simple handyman projects such as patching concrete and painting. If you are interested in becoming involved please email via the library Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Hekab/ or just stop by the library anytime during opening hours: Monday through Friday 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

Our 2018 To Do List

On our wishlist for 2018 is to complete the renovation of the classrooms; clear, clean and repair our current bodega as a room for community use, and separate the current single bathroom into one for girls and one for boys. Last year we were able to install new doors and front windows for the classrooms thanks to a donation from a group of visitors from the Hard Rock Hotel, but the rear windows are still the older style wooden shutters that do not do a good job of keeping the rain and dust out, some of the older concrete is starting to crack and flake, and the walls need a new coat of paint.

One project that was undertaken and completed this month, was clearing the lot in front of the library and re-painting the building façade to be more visible from the road. Can you see us as you drive past? Taking charge of this was Agustin, an artist who has painted murals with school children in communities throughout Mexico, Central and South America. The finished work is a collaboration work of art painted by Agustin and the children of Akumal in a true group project.

Staff and students pose with Agustin in front of the completed mural. Thanks Agustin!


Plans for the future include starting a garden for the children to learn about growing vegetables, and we have an art show and book sale planned for Feb 17th at the library. We are hoping to have as many local artists as possible join us for this event. Cost will be $100 MX per space, with 100% of funds raised going directly to support Hekab Be. Artists will be able to show and sell their work. We welcome everyone who creates hand-made, original works of art whether they are life-size portraits or artisanal bars of soap. Please contact us via the Facebook group to reserve your space.

We’re looking forward to a wonderful and productive February, so stop by and say hello and see what is happening.


Posada Navideña at Hekab Be

A big thank you goes out to everyone who made this day possible. Emilia for organising the day. All our employees for putting in the extra hours to make it such a special day. Betsy and Jennifer at Turtle Bay Cafe for doing all the shopping for gifts. All the parents and volunteers who helped wrap the presents and serve food. Lol-Ha, La Taverna, La Buena Vida, La cueva, Secrets Akumal and Turtle Bay for donating mountains of food, drink and cake. And last but most certainly not least Bart for braving the warm weather to come down as Santa Claus. It was an awesome afternoon and we can’t thank you all enough for your continued support. It means so much to us and the children of Akumal that we can all come together to make events like this happen.

Please be sure to subscribe to our new youtube channel and Like, Comment and Share.


Feliz Navidad! Christmas Party on the 15th December

You are invited to join us for our Christmas party on Friday 15th December from 3 – 6pm. The children have been practicing a dance and song to perform on the day and other traditional dances will be performed by local artists as well. Come and enjoy the show and eat the tasty food that will be donated by our lovely friends over at The Taverna restaurant, Lol- Ha and La Buena Vida. And also cake and cookies will be donated by the wonderful team over at Turtle Bay Cafe and Bakery. With refreshments being donated by our awesome supporters over at Secrets Akumal.

We are still collecting presents and we need a lot as we expect up to 100 kids to be here to receive a present from Santa. ( Yes that’s right Santa is braving the heat of the Caribbean to give out presents! ) You can see our Christmas wish list Here.

And for those that are too far away to give a gift, you can also donate money for us to go and buy gifts. Just follow our Paypal link Here and request you donation that your donation is to be spent on gifts in the notes box when you go to donate.

Feliz Navidad!



“Janal Pixan” Our Day of the Dead fiesta!

“Janal Pixan” is Mayan for “food of the Souls” otherwise known as Day of the Dead or Dia de Los Muertos in Spanish. Please join us for this great celebration of the dead here at Hekab Be on the 2nd November 2017 from 10am till 6pm we will be offering food aplenty to go on the altar as an offering to the dead. This is one of the most celebrated holidays in Mexico but is usually celebrated on a night so we thought it would be best to help the kids celebrate by throwing our celebration throughout the day.

The Christmas Wish List is Live!

Hola Todos! Hi Everyone!

Our Christmas wish has just been posted up on the website so if you are coming down to Akumal soon and wish to make a child very happy at Christmas then please take a look at the list of toys that the kids have asked for from good ol’ saint nick. You can find the list right here… wishlist!

Of course, we are still in need of our usual school supplies which are all listed on there also.

Many Thanks

Hekab Be Team x