The Oaxaca Mask Project Report #7: Donate by May 15

Tomorrow, May 15, 2020, we are accepting last donations for the time being to make and distribute masks to Oaxaca and the villages. I’m taking a break until we see if there is more demand. Thanks to all who responded earlier this week to The Last Push post! Many of you made second and third gifts!

We still need several hundred dollars more to pay Oaxaca mask makers for orders in progress and complete mask shipments. Thank you for making a gift. Please use this link:

We started this project on April 15, 2020 — one month ago!

www.paypal.me/oaxacaculture

Alert: I just received a notice from Cristy Molina Martinez that the Oaxaca government has announced that they cannot accept any more COVID-19 patients at Oaxaca’s specialty hospital. They are at capacity!

Cristy Molina Martinez has been our right-hand person in Teotitlan del Valle. This morning she received a shipment of masks from Portland, Oregon, from Claudia Michel. Claudia made an in-kind donation to the project by purchasing and shipping masks at her personal expense.

Cristy Molina Martinez in traditional Teotitlan del Valle traje

Cristy will take masks to San Jeronimo Tlacochuhuaya where graphic artist Gabriela Morac will distribute them in her hometown. Some will go to San Pablo Villa de Mitla where doll maker Armando Sosa is redirecting sewing efforts to mask-making. He will use our masks as a pattern, and we will send him funds to also make masks to give out to villagers and taxi-drivers. .

Print by Gabriela Morac https://moracgabriela.wixsite.com/gabrielamorac

Gabriela closed her studio in downtown Oaxaca shortly after the invasion of COVID-19 and returned home, staying safe and selling online.

We have two other mask shipments in transit. Another 100 masks are going today to San Martin Tilcajete from Karen Nein to Taller Jacobo y Maria Angeles. The famed maker of alebrijes, ceramics and curator of a sustainable copal forest has a vast network of friends and relatives who are wearing our masks.

Karen Nein with masks for San Martin Tilcajete

Early this week, Alvin Starkman, Oaxaca Mezcal Educational Tours, took 60 more masks, made and donated by Rocio Bastida Cruz and Dave Crosley (contact them to order in Oaxaca), to villages where he has mezcal-making friends. Alvin says,  “I have been assisting distributing to several of the mezcal villages over the past few weeks. The good folks at Mezcal Vago (Judah Kuper & Dylan Sloan) have most recently agreed to distribute a bunch to the villages where their mezcal is produced, to the growers, jimadores, palenqueros and their families, especially those older / with pre-existing conditions, in Sola de Vega, Candelaria Yegolé, Miahuatlán and Tapanala. Thanks guys (and gals). Let’s keep ’em all safe.”

Yesterday, I shipped 100 masks made by Sam (Frances) Robbins from Columbus, Ohio, for Cristy to deliver along with fabric that Rosario Lazo will sew.

100 masks made by Sam Robbins

Jacki Cooper Gordon received 150 masks from us for EnVia Foundation to give to the women (and their families) in the villages who are recipients of their loans.

The Casa de Kids with Drew Vogt

The Episcopal Church in downtown Oaxaca has our masks, too. So does the health clinic in Huayapam thanks to Kari Klippen-Sierra and Rudy Sierra. Kari just told me she made contact with and gave 50 masks to Steve Friedman with Seeds of Hope in Zaachila, an organization that works with impoverished people who live in and around the dump there. She also gave 30 masks to Drew Vogt from Casa de Kids. They work with children, often orphaned, to help them get through school.

In Santa Maria El Tule, I am working with weaver Alfredo Hernandez Orozco who is making us 100 masks. They should be done by early next week. Then, we will figure out who needs them most, who will get them out to people, and will wear them!

Alfredo Hernandez Orozco Mask, handwoven
Alfredo Hernandez Orozco mask, interior — muy comodo!

As of today, we have contracted for, shipped and distributed almost 2,500 masks, and received almost $5,000 in funds. This does not include gifts of masks made by friends of the project which I will tally as in-kind gifts in my final report.

I want to do a special call-out to Kalisa Wells, who has been the central point person in Oaxaca Centro. She coordinated receiving and distributing masks made by Beatriz of Telarcito Lindo. Kalisa also connected me with Armando. She has a million (just kidding) of his dolls. She is a fan.

Kalisa Wells with Armando Sosa, Tlacolula Market

If we keep going, we will need to raise more money to fund the project. Cristy and I are assessing need and should know more in a couple of weeks. Everyone has been so generous. What is your will?

Handmade doll by Armando Sosa, San Pablo Villa de Mitla

During this intensive one-month project to get our Oaxaca friends protected from coronavirus, I have been gratified, ecstatic, overwhelmed, discouraged and tearful with the joy of so many people stepping forward to help. I have felt like a mask-jockey, juggling where to distribute masks available immediately to those who want and need them immediately, waiting for more to be ready and re-deployed.

Thank you for trusting me with your gifts to make this project happen. Thank you for your willingness to sew. Thank you for your effort to bring masks to people who will wear them. Thank you for trying to bring masks to the people when they reject the offer of help.

We can only do the best we can, one step at a time. For now, we will wrap this up …. unless someone else wants to step forward for a while!

Sending love from Command Central, Durham, North Carolina

Friends ask, When are you coming back to Oaxaca? My best answer is, I don’t know. As with most things these days, we are driven by the virus and much is to revealed and it is too soon to know. They say, no one vaccine will protect against the many iterations of this scourage. My intention is to continue to shelter-in-place, take walks, eat healthy, Zoom with friends and drink MEZCAL.

Abrazos fuertes.

8 responses to “The Oaxaca Mask Project Report #7: Donate by May 15

  1. You are something else, Norma Schafer!!!!
    A true force and phenomenon.
    With ultimate admiration,
    Leslie

  2. So great, Norma! What a fabulous job you and your networks have done! It is inspirational!

    Here, we are still going forward. We have received more than $3000 and have distributed more than 500 masks. We have received donations of a sewing machine, instructional sewing, filters, and lots and lots of support. Our 11 families have received money for rent, utilities, a baby crib, and other essentials. Mostly, they do not feel alone or abandoned. The work has kept one woman from going back to house clean, and another to stop babysitting…so I feel we have been Successful in some ways.

    We keep on…
    Abrazos fuertes
    Susan

  3. Thank you Norma for spearheading this very important project. You and many others have contributed greatly to the health and well being of los Oaxaqueños. Am so hoping I can return to Oaxaca over Christmas’s we shall see what direction this all turns…
    Stay well and safe…
    Cata

  4. Thank you, Norma, for all you’re doing and have done. The world needs more angelitas like you! And I’m sure Oaxaca says muchisimas gracias also.

    Consuelo

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