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It’s been two months since a lethal 8.2 earthquake devastated the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca.  For a brief time, this oft-neglected state had captured the attention and relief efforts of Mexico and the world.  Aware that relief supplies were desperately needed, I was informed that my friend and manager of Casa Colonial B&B, Amado Bolaños, with the blessings of the Casa’s owner Jane Robison, was driving supplies to villages in the Isthmus.  Within 24 hours of returning to Oaxaca on September 16, I filled three large trash bags with clothing, sandals, sheets, and towels for him to take.

Unfortunately, the focus soon shifted.  On September 19, a deadly 7.1 earthquake hit central Mexico and caused severe damage to several neighborhoods in Mexico City.  And then there were the hurricanes….  As a result, the damnificados (victims) of this second poorest state in Mexico continue to suffer the effects of the strongest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century.  Thus, Amado continues to carry pickup truck loads of needed items to stricken communities.

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Amado Bolaños speaking at the Casa Colonial earthquake relief fundraiser

So, last week I wasn’t surprised to receive the following email from Amado addressed to Casa Colonial friends:

It’s been a while since our last email, many good and bad things [have] been happening all this time. One of the bad things are the earthquakes in different parts of Mexico and of course in our dear Oaxaca state. Although the situation in Oaxaca city in not bad at all, things at the Isthmus of Oaxaca are not so great, many many entire families lost their homes and they are living in a horrible situation.

Personally with the help of many of you,  I have  been taking trips to these places, carrying  food, medicines tarps and other things, that my paisanos are in need of.

This is why CHEAP SEATS AND CASA COLONIAL are putting together a Benefit Concert this coming Sunday the 5th at 4pm

All the money collected would be used to get more tarps and food that the Istmeños are in need. The donation entrance fee would be $200 pesos per person and of course you can also bring the following:

• rice • beans • painkillers • powdered milk • toys • clean clothes (in good condition), for adults and many more for kids and babies • tarps • water • canned food • diapers.

If you think in anything else, bring it over, I`m sure we can figure it out.  Muchas gracias por todo…see you guys this coming Sunday….we´ll have hamburgers, hot dogs and margaritas of course

blessings
Amado Bolaños
Casa Colonial Manager

Of course, I went.  The hamburgers and margaritas were yummy and, as you can see from this brief clip, the music by the Cheap Seats was rousing and had the crowd clapping and cheering.  However, the purpose of the event was not forgotten and during intermission, Amado painted a heartfelt and revealing picture of the conditions people in the Isthmus are still having to endure.  Formal relief efforts and agencies are scarce and aftershocks continue.  One of the medicines, which he didn’t have access to but was much requested was for anxiety.  And, he told the story of a 3-year old coming to get a relief package for his family and, when asked where his mother was, he was led by the boy to what remained of his home and discovered the mom sheltered under a tarp where, with the help of another woman from the village, she had given birth to twins the night before.

If you can made a donation, please contact Amado Bolaños at Casa Colonial B&B.  You can be assured your donation will go directly to the people who are in most need, not into the coffers of some politico and his cronies.

Amado Bolaños
Phone: +52 951 516 5280
Email: oaxaca@casa-colonial.com

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In Oaxaca city, while nerves remain on edge, life is going on as usual with only a few signs of the recent earthquakes:  Buildings years ago labeled “inmueble en mal estado” (property in a bad state) now sport yellow caution tape, as does Templo De La Virgen De Las Nieves, which has a huge crack along one of the bell towers.  And, on my block, a plywood retaining wall has been erected to contain a wall that collapsed back in 2012.

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Those atrapada (trapped) by the September 7th and September 19th earthquakes have mostly been rescued, though réplicas (aftershocks) continue daily, especially in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region — still in the 4 to 4.5 on the Richter Scale (though not felt in Oaxaca city).   Damnificados (victims) and escombros (debris) are all that remain in the hardest hit areas but tens of thousands of people are being forced to live in the streets.  To add insult to injury, they must cope with torrential downpours and flooding from this very long and destructive rainy season.

Fundraising events are being held and centros de acopio (collection centers) have been set up to gather donations, with countless volunteers traversing damaged and dangerous mountain roads to deliver supplies.  The need is massive!

HOW YOU CAN HELP:

Como Ayudar – A large international list of information and links regarding assistance and distribution of goods to help those affected by the most recent earthquakes in Mexico.

How To Help The Earthquake Victims In Mexico City, Morelos, Puebla & Oaxaca – List of organizations collecting monetary donations, compiled by Mexico City based food writer, Nicholas Gilman

In addition, a couple of friends have asked me to publicize small organizations they are working with:

Help to San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca, Earthquake Victims – Norma Schaefer, of Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, is getting the word out on the earthquake relief efforts of cultural anthropologist Denise Lechner and medical doctor Anja Widman.

SER Mixe – An indigenous organization serving the Mixe people in the Mixe region of Oaxaca; recommended by Margaret Macsems, general manager of Khadi Oaxaca.

*** Words in red type have become hardwired in my brain — new Spanish vocabulary I wish I didn’t have to learn under these circumstances.

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Late on the night of September 7, 2017, in the mountains of Telluride, Colorado, my phone dinged — a message from a friend in Oaxaca concerned about my 91 year old neighbor.  That was my first news of the largest earthquake to hit Mexico in a century last week.  Needless to say, I spent half the night monitoring news sites, emailing, messaging, and checking status updates by friends and neighbors on Facebook.  Thankfully, all friends and neighbors came away relatively unscathed — save for severely frayed nerves.

The epicenter of the 8.1 (8.2 according to Mexican authorities) earthquake was off the coast of Chiapas.  Given its geography, the state of Oaxaca has been hard hit.  The red bullets on the map below show some of areas in the state most severely affected.

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As of yesterday, the death toll was up to 91.  According to reports from Oaxaca’s governor, more than 800,000 people in the state potentially lost everything and in Juchitán de Zaragoza, in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region, 5,000 homes were destroyed.  The earthquake also devastated the mountain communities of the Mixe.

Oaxaca and Chiapas are two of the poorest states in Mexico and help is urgently needed.  Maestro Francisco Toledo, who is from Juchitán, is collecting funds through his non-profit, Amigos del Instituto de Artes Gráficas de Oaxaca y del Centro Fotográfico.  For details see below:

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Oaxaca earthquake relief is also being solicited by the following organizations and individuals:

CADENA (Comite de Ayuda a Desastres y Emergencias Nacionales A.C.)
BANAMEX
Sucursal: 7009
CUENTA: 189458
CLABE: 002180700901894588
https://cadena.ngo/dona

The Harp Helu Foundation will match 1 X 1 for any contributions directly to:
Citibanamex
Cuenta 23, Sucursal 100
CLABE: 002 180 010 000 000 235
Formento Social Banamex, A.C.

The government agency, DIF Oaxaca is taking donations:
• Voluntariado DIF Oaxaca, Avenida Juarez 914, Col. Centro
• Hangar del Gobierno de Oaxaca, Aeropuerto Internacional, Santa Cruz Xoxocotlan
• Gimnasio Ricardo Flores Magon, Derechos Humanos s/n Col. America Sur
• Oficianas Centrales DIF Oaxaca, Vicente Guerrero 114, Col. Miguel Aleman

Casa de Esperanza House of Hope Anabaptist Community Church is receiving donations in any form (groceries, baby food, money, etc.) to be sent to the coast where many have lost their homes or family members. Please bring your donations to: Casa de Esperanza— Camino Nacional 929-3 Ixcotel Oaxaca Oax Te l 9 5 1 1 7 6 3 1 5 3

Omar Alonso of Oaxacking has set up a YouCaring crowd funding site to aid in relief efforts in Juchitan.

Flor Cervantes, who founded, Mujeres de 8 de Marzo in Juchitan, is collecting funds for the refuge.  For more information call her in Oaxaca at:  951 125 02 48

And, the Oaxaca Lending Library is working on collecting and sending supplies and money to the areas in Oaxaca most affected.

If you aren’t dealing with hurricanes Harvey and Irma destruction, PLEASE HELP Oaxaca!!!

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