Mexico provides funds to sick children by recycling bottle caps

World Today

Child cancer is an issue affecting communities and countries worldwide, and a number of charities and medical organizations are dedicated to combatting it.

In Mexico, one organization seeking to help sick kids has worked out a way to raise money from even the most marginalized communities and get everyone to do their part. CGTN’s Alasdair Baverstock reports.

When she was just two, Ariadna Sebastian was diagnosed with cancer – a malignant tumor followed by surgery, six months of hospitalized isolation and no guarantee of survival.

“It was difficult to accept, and you ask yourself a lot of questions. Like, why me, why is this happening? What have I done wrong? All these worries we had as parents,” said Gabriela Martinez, Ariadna’s mother.

After Ariadna was released, her mother Gabriela contacted a child cancer charity called Banco de Tapitas, which works to improve the lives of sick children.

“We had heard through social media that they granted kids’ wishes, and she had dreamed of a Frozen-themed party,” said Martinez. “So I contacted them, and got an immediate response. They said, of course, Ari would have her party, in the ‘quinceanera’ style she wanted.”

The party remains Ariadna’s most cherished memory, and two years later, her family now runs a collection for the charity which organized it.

Funds raised by the charity go toward granting wishes, helping parents and paying for medical treatment, entirely from the donation of plastic bottle tops.

Soda bottle caps are made from a type of plastic called polypropylene. It’s a versatile material that is valuable to recycling operations.

In Mexico, one of the world’s top consumers of sugary soft drinks, even the poorest communities can do their bit for charity by collecting and donating bottle caps.

Gabriela has encouraged her entire community to get collecting.

“We started collecting them at home, and then my daughter had a social work project at school, and so she got her entire class collecting, too. We feel that we’re helping the planet as well as helping the children,” said Isabel Rosales, a bottle cap donor.

The project was founded by a team of entrepreneurs, who in the five years since it began, have spread across Mexico to more than 300 different branches.

“We aim to help families however we can, not just with their medical treatment. We help them get psychological help as well,” said Gabriela Cabrera, the founder of Banco de Tapitas.

“Sometimes they don’t get enough to eat, so we help them there, as well as helping siblings, because like it or not, they live through the illness, too.”

As Banco de Tapitas looks to widen its reach, it hopes to combat child cancer throughout Mexico, and send its message of innovative charitable giving even further.