How To Repair Our World: Oaxaca Earthquake Donations and Magnitude of Need

Last night, when I returned to Durham, North Carolina, I opened my mailbox to find three checks totaling $700 USD for Oaxaca earthquake support. Most of these gifts were collected by Mary Randall, my Oaxaca friend who lives in Modesto, California. Others came because people contacted me directly asking if they could send a check instead of making a PayPal donation.

Oaxaca earthquake rubble, photo by Denise Lechner

Special Thank You to:

  • Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Stanislaus County, Ca. where Mary’s call to action resulted in a collection of $300 USD!

And to these individual donors whose checks I received.

  • Mary and Sara Randall, Modesto
  • Christine Fiedler, Modesto
  • Mary James, Modesto
  • Richard Kowalczyk, Springfield, VA

And, thanks to so many of you who made your gifts directly via PayPal.

I’m expecting another gift from Mary in the mail. Her daughter Sara is an elementary school teacher. The Third Grade at Garrison Elementary School, Modesto, gathered $47 USD for earthquake relief. Mary says a neighbor kid’s grandma is buried in the rubble in Mexico City.

In line for aid, San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca, photo by Denise Lechner


There was another 6.1 magnitude earthquake in southern Oaxaca yesterday. This was one of several yesterday in the same region of the 8.2 quake. USGS officials are saying these are aftershocks. I’m certain people are jumpy and suffering from PTSD, fearful for loved ones, not having the resources to rebuild.

Fissures, photo by Denise Lechner

There is a lot of need right now in our world. What we choose to repair is a personal decision. If you have extra resources for Oaxaca, here’s what you can do:

  • Mail a check to me, payable to Norma Schafer, 500 N. Duke Street, Apt. 55-307, Durham, NC 27701. I will send the funds on for direct aid to either the Toledo Foundation or to Denise Lechner. Please specify.
  • To Francisco Toledo Foundation   Francisco Toledo’s Foundation IAGO (Instituto Artes Graficas de Oaxaca) (This link is no longer working. I’m trying to find out why.)
  • To anthropologist Denise Lechner who is working in the field
  • To Alfredo Harp Helu Foundation as follows via wire transfer:

Special thanks to Mary Randall, a knowledgeable historian and resource about Oaxaca. Her talks at the Oaxaca Lending Library attract eager audiences whenever she is in residence.

Magnitude of Need is 10.0

Oaxaca got hit with another earthquake yesterday, a 6.1, and then there is Puebla, where major historic sites were damaged, and Mexico City, where people died buried in rubble from the 7.1 earthquake last week. Climate change and destruction are upon us. Where to start? It’s your choice! There is so much to do.

From on-the-ground-in-Oaxaca:   I’ve been in Oaxaca city since early August. Experienced both of the big quakes, on 9/7 in the Isthmus and on 9/19 in Puebla state. We got a scary ride on the terremoto machine, but the city and surrounding areas, including the (north) Oaxaca coastal area, are fine. The massive old buildings here, built of huge blocks of solid rock, seem to do well with the earth shaking. 

All around the city are pop-up centers for gathering donations of food, water, clothes, diapers, medical supplies, etc. that are going to Juchitan and smaller pueblos in the Isthmus, where the devastation has touched everybody. And Norma has already published the ways we can donate funds that will be matched and will be assured of getting to the people in need. We can help too with our purchasing dollars.

–Winn Kalmon

Note: There is some controversy about how aid is being distributed, especially through NGOs that have ties to the government with reports that funds are being diverted to political use.

Dr. Anja Widman, administering aid, photo by Denise Lechner

I assure you that my friend, anthropologist Denise Lechner and Dr. Anja Widman, who is working with her, have taken a Mobile Clinic and donated goods to provide care services and supplies to people in communities that need them most on the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and neighboring mountain villages.

Isthmus of Tehuantepec is hardest hit, Matias Romero took latest hit

If you made or make a gift directly to Denise Lechner, the Toledo Foundation or Helu Foundation, please let me know. I would like to recognize you and give you public thanks. I am not sure how donors will be acknowledged by these organizations. They are too busy giving aid.  With appreciation, Norma


10 responses to “How To Repair Our World: Oaxaca Earthquake Donations and Magnitude of Need

  1. Thank you Norma for this informative post. I just sent $25 to Denise Lechner via PayPal. I’ll also post on FB because it seems all of the attention is going to Mexico City. While DF needs help too let’s not forget Oaxaca! Thanks again.

  2. Thank you for continuing to keep us up to date. I also have my son and daughter in law in Mexico City. I have made donations to the ones you suggested (no need to mention my name please) and to one other group — topos. Mexico is my second country.


  3. Hi Norma,
    I just sent $100 to Denise via PayPal. I am so grateful to you for providing the links to people and organizations who are working in the field. It’s so difficult to get this sort of info from the internet and knowing who to trust, especially given the predatory environment created every time there is a natural disaster. It seems to bring out the best and the worst in people.
    Thank you so much for being our eyes and ears!
    Beverly Keitz

  4. Hi Norma,
    Thanks for all the information about Oaxaca and Mexico City. The earthquakes are so terrible. Hard to believe there were 2 major sismos in 11 days!
    I just wanted to let you know that the recent New York Times article about weavers in Teotitlan del Valle was reprinted in our local paper in Sonora, CA [county pop. 50,000]. I was so glad to see that. Here is the link:
    Sorry we won’t see you when we come to Oaxaca. We leave Oct. 11 for Mexico City, then Pto. Escondido, then Oaxaca for Day of the Dead, and finally back to Bela’s in San Cristobal de las Casas. We will definitely visit Teotitlan del Valle.
    Thanks again for all the information.

  5. A few days ago, I left a comment promising a donation, which I did complete to donativoistmo. $100. I happened to be in Tehuantepec the day before the earthquake but was moved to go back to Oaxaca City a day early. I feel very close to this situation. I experienced it from 430 miles away in the city, it was no picnic even there. For two days, I felt periodic spells of dizziness. As a former Californian, I know about the PTSD aspect that comes from repeatedly experiencing aftershocks. 6.2? Ugh. That’s huge.

    • Yes, Laurel. 6.2 IS HUGE. I’m also a former Californian. We know the fear of living in quake-dom. I left before the Northridge earthquake, but my brother lived there then. The buildings surrounding his collapsed, killing CSUN students. My sister’s house was damaged and things destroyed in the Santa Cruz Loma Prieta quake. Every time I visit and drive into an underground garage, I wonder. My son lives a mile from the ocean in Huntington Beach. I always talk about tsunami’s when I go there. We live in an unsteady world. Thank you for sharing your experience. I’m with you.

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