A special message from Ann Lutterman-Aguilar, CGEE-Mexico Site Director:
Despite the terrible tragedies caused by the recent earthquakes in Mexico, people are recovering amazingly quickly and demonstrating the incredible warmth and generosity of the Mexican spirit. Small mom and pop businesses have been giving out food and supplies to survivors of the earthquake, as have hardware stores and other businesses. Almost everywhere you go, you see people who have set up relief collection centers in their homes, and people going to drop off donations. Many schools are serving as shelters for people whose homes were destroyed or damaged in the earthquake, and our state university is helping to coordinate relief efforts throughout the state. The government has opened up toll roads and made them free so that people can travel more easily and inexpensively during this time. Even a lot of banks have stopped charging a fee to withdraw money regardless of whether it is your bank. These are just a few of the endless examples of the overwhelming love and solidarity being shared by ordinary citizens and all kinds of institutions.
The international response to the earthquake has also been tremendous. On Friday, I witnessed the arrival of 15 Canadian women rescue workers with their rescue dogs. They received a huge round of applause everywhere they went in the earthquake because people could identify them as a result of the vests that both the women and dogs were wearing. And the Canadians aren’t alone. People from the United States and Cuba and all over the world have been helping out in person and through donations. As a result, students and customized program participants have an incredible opportunity to learn from a wide range of people about what schools, social workers, activists, ordinary citizens, governments, and businesses do to respond to emergency situations.
Our current semester students were with their host families during the last (and worst) earthquake here last Tues., September 19, and they and their Mexican families were all fine. In addition, the staff in our study center are all fine, and no one lost a home or has had to evacuate, although a few staff members have some damage to their homes. We are among the lucky ones, as are all of our current host families and all of the host families in the neighborhood of Plan de Ayala.
While lives and homes were lost in Cuernavaca, most of the largest tragedies took place in the southeastern part of the state of Morelos, closest to the epicenter of the quake. Towns such as Jojutla and Axopian and Tenancingo were devastated. Ixtlilco el Grande, where many CGEE students (especially in the Social Work program) have participated in rural homestays lost at least 15 homes, some of which belong to former host families. Those who haven’t been to Ixtlilco but have studied in Mexico may have learned about the circulatory migration between that town and Minneapolis from Augsburg adjunct professor Raziel Valino, who is completing her doctoral dissertation on that topic. She reports that the host families are physically fine and recovering from the trauma. Even as they work to rebuild their own homes, they are helping out the other towns in their region that have suffered greater loss. Again, the show of solidarity is very inspiring.
Amatlan de Quetzalcoatl, where numerous CGEE groups have had homestays, also suffered from the earthquake. Like Ixtlilco, Amatlan did not suffer the loss of lives, but numerous homes were destroyed, including that of elderly farmer Dona Irene Ramirez, who has often given talks about her heirloom corn and her views of GMO corn.
If you have already donated to earthquake relief in Mexico, thank you. If you haven’t and would like to, there are many great organizations that could use your help. The following link provides a few great suggestions for how to help: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/20/reader-center/donate-mexico-earthquake-.html.
CGEE-Mexico is currently trying to compile a list of host families who lost homes in Amatlan and Ixtlilco that we can share so that you can know how your former host families are if you have not already been in touch with them. We are also hoping to set up a mechanism to channel funds directly to the CGEE host families in Amatlan and Ixtlilco who lost their homes. Therefore, please stay tuned for updates.
CGEE-Mexico Site Director
UPDATE: To donate to our campaign for host families, please visit the go fund me page at: https://www.gofundme.com/earthquake-relief-cgee-host-family.