Tag Archives: donations

Oaxaca Face Masks for the Good

In the despair that has gripped the United States of America in the last week that peels away once more deep-seated and unresolved racial disparities and undue police force that plague us, I have found succor in focusing on The Oaxaca Mask Project. These times demand us to be proactive to make change for the good however we can, wherever we are living now and where we come from.

I am deeply grateful to all who have contributed and those who still plan to. We continue to welcome your support.

The Oaxaca Mask Project Phase II started May 23, 2020. Since then, we have raised $8,830 USD from 134 donors. Eight seamstresses are employed and have made 1,410 masks to date.

To contribute, click here:

By the end of this week, we will have given over 500 masks to the Teotitlan del Valle public health clinic operated by the village and underwritten their purchase of gallons of isopropyl alcohol, hand sanitizer and pulse oximeters (used in the detection of Covid 19). Thanks to Cristy Molina Martinez and Samuel Bautista Lazo for their help to get masks into the hands of village leaders and to connect me to Armando Gutierrez Martinez, a health committee member.

The village tells me they need a portable Welch-Allyn vital signs monitor to buy used/refurbished in the USA and ship to them. I’m seeking a $700 donor to help us buy this medical equipment to ship to Teotitlan del Valle. Contact me: norma.schafer@icloud.com

IMSS doctors and nurses with our masks

I’m also happy to report that Alvin Starkman from Oaxaca Mezcal Tours got 100 masks into the hands of doctors and nurses at the Oaxaca public hospital IMSS. They did not have sufficient PPE and they were required to purchase same at their own expense. These masks were made by Rocio Bastida Cruz in San Felipe del Agua.

Karen Nein, from Eldorado, NM, sent high quality 100% cotton fabric to Kalisa Wells in the Centro Historico who got this to Beatriz at Telarcito Lindo in El Tule, where she and her staff are sewing 200 masks to be at the ready for those who ask us.

In San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya, Moises Garcia Guzman de Contreras, a Zapotec linguistic activist and head of the cultural center, gave 100 masks to their village health officials to distribute to market vendors and shoppers. They have asked for 150 more for taxi and bus drivers, and others.

Teotitlan del Valle president receives over 400 masks for villagers

Patrice Wynne, owner of Abrazos San Miguel, contributed enough cotton fabric of their design for us to sew 400 masks. The box will arrive in Teotitlan del Valle via DHL this week. We are grateful.

I’m talking with Bordados Xime, a family operated apron-making embroidery workshop in San Miguel del Valle, just outside of Tlacolula, to sew masks for their village. I am guiding them on design and we will compensate them for what they make, of course!

Armando Sosa, a doll maker in San Pablo Villa de Mitla, continues to make masks for us, too. This gives him and his sister much needed income during this time of economic stress.

Kari Klippen-Sierra is getting masks to community service organizations through the Episcopal Church, and has given masks to Alan Goodin to distribute in Santiago Ixtaltepec, where he lives. Alan is helping a family who lost everything in the Abastos Market fire, too. We are planning to designate the next 100 being made by Alfredo Hernandez Orozco in El Tule to Alan.

Beatriz at Telarcito Lindo marks mask pattern on Karen’s fabric

We will continue to work with Rachael Mamane, Food for All, and her connections with puente.org, an organization of organic farmers in the Oaxaca valley and Mixtec region.

It’s hard for me right now to think about when our textile tours will start up again. I hope, as our travels are curtailed, that you keep Oaxaca and Mexico travel with me in your dreams!

Stay healthy! Stay safe! Saludos, Norma and The Oaxaca Mask Project

Generosity Knows No Boundaries: Oaxaca Mask Project II

We put out the call on Monday, May 25, that we were starting Phase II of the Oaxaca Mask Project. On Tuesday, May 26, an article in Mexico News Daily featuring the project appeared, written by journalist Janet Blaser. Oaxaca blogger Shannon Pixley Sheppard, View From Casita Colibri, reposted our Monday cry for help.

You responded.

We send you our sincerest, most grateful thanks. Special thanks to Janet and Shannon!

Your generosity gives us the wherewithal to go into mask-making overdrive. Even more important now that the virus is spreading to the villages and more cases are identified.

100 masks went to Macuilxochitl, adjacent to Teotitlan de Valle

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We have cried this week. There were seven (7) funerals in Teotitlan del Valle, two on one day. There are cases diagnosed in neighboring villages and towns. For every published case diagnosed, the multiplier is eight (8) for the underrepresented numbers. If five (5) cases are known, the likely total is 40. The curve is no where in sight.

Mexico’s health care system is in disarray. Upon taking office, President AMLO (Lopez-Obrador) started dismantling the system to reorganize. There is little PPE and health care workers are taxed. The New York Times reports today that 25% of Mexico’s coronavirus cases are health care workers.

In all this, we are hopeful that the masks we offer FREE to people will mitigate the spread of disease in the Oaxaca valleys. Thank you for your generosity, your big heart and your gifts.

It takes a village to protect a village. You and I do this because we have a connection to people and place. We do this because we respect the creativity and hard work of Oaxaqueños. We understand. Thank you, again!

Since Monday, May 25, 2020:

  • 108 donors made gifts
  • $6,746 USD received
  • 1100 masks ordered
  • 4 distribution partnerships formed
  • 8 mask-makers employed
  • Expanded mask-making and distribution to San Miguel del Valle apron-making village
  • More to do!
Rocio Arecely Garcia Lopez, left, San Miguel del Valle, will sew masks for us

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.

In Oaxaca, Stories of Hope: Face Masks, Food and Dogs

How to feed impoverished people has always been a challenge in Mexico. Now, with the ravages of coronavirus destroying fragile infrastructure, street corner businesses, and tourism that feeds Oaxaca’s economy, needs are even more acute. Here are a few stories about people rising to the occasion to help.

Face Masks and Distribution

Getting masks is one thing. Distributing them to Oaxaca friends and people in markets or on the street is another thing. Explaining in Spanish how and why to use the masks in public is essential for public health education.

For a start, Kalisa Wells ordered 50 face coverings from Patzcuaro for distribution in Oaxaca. They arrived today. She announced on Facebook that “They are here at my place in the centro, ready for pick-up.”

She says,
“The Mujeres Mágicas are a group of low income women in Pátzcuaro who have been taught to sew and sell high quality products to help support their families, increase their self-esteem, and gain lifetime skills. The changes in their lives and those of their families have been phenomenal. As their shop is closed now and they are in quarantine at home, they are sewing pleated protective face masks from double fabric with elastic ear loops. They can be washed dried, and are reversible. For only 30 pesos each [$1.26USD], you can purchase these masks for everyone you know and help empower women at the same time.

Donate via PayPal to cherie.verber@yahoo.com

“For more in-depth information about the Mujeres Mágicas, please visit their Facebook page, Pátzcuaro Mujeres Mágicas. They need donations and can receive them in dollars or pesos via PayPal.

The problem is that many local women do not feel at risk. Kalisa plans to hand some out to people she meets on the street, but this necessitates explaining the importance of using the mask — in Spanish, which fortunately, Kali speaks well.

Shannon Sheppard says, “The masks will probably help protect us and others from the droplets/spray (cough, sneeze, breath) coming from the wearer. If we all wear masks, we protect each other.

Cheri Verber says, “Education is everything. Those who are distributing the masks in Pátzcuaro are native speakers who explain to people exactly how they can protect themselves and everyone with whom they come in contact.

I suggested adding hang tags in Spanish to explain how to use and why it is important just in case the giver doesn’t speak Spanish.

Feeding Vulnerable People in Oaxaca: Friendly Food Donations

This message is from Jesi Jello, a founder of Friendly Food Donations.

“Hello, everyone! ❤️ My partner Erick Garcia Gomez and I have just created a Paypal account to receive direct donations that will go toward the immediate purchase of produce from local farmers.

“All donations go directly to supporting small local vegetable farmers who will deliver a month’s worth of produce directly to the door of the most vulnerable people and families in the different communities surrounding Oaxaca City, Mexico.

“The donations consist of generous amounts of fruit and vegetables with staples like eggs, beans, rice, and cooking oil.

“All money goes toward the purchase of food directly from the farmers and all food goes directly to the door of those who need it, no price inflation.

“My partner and I started this so that we can be 100% certain that no one is profiting and that all money goes directly to feeding people in need. We are also more likely to get donations from our own personal connections, clients, friends, and family this way…. There is so much poverty here, I say we need all the help that we can get. This is my personal effort to help people and I am just sharing it in case someone is back in their country and wants to reach out and help people in Oaxaca.

“We are opening a donation account in case we are able to reach even more vulnerable people and families. We have been doing our research through the people we know and have our own personal and confidential list of families who are presently suffering, who have no money or food. We will not be taking any profit for ourselves.❤️ Donation link is: http://www.paypal.me/friendlyfood ❤️ Please Share ! ❤️”

Help for Monte Alban Street Dogs

Earlier this week, Norma received this message [below] from Mark Allen Brown asking for help to care for street dogs on the road to Monte Alban. Norma immediately referred him to Merry Foss in Teotitlan del Valle who runs TeoTails, Tanya LaPierre who volunteers with APA OAX the Oaxaca animal rescue and sterilization organization, and Rebecca Durden Raab founder of Friends of Megan Animal Rescue. They responded quickly. Please help; you can make donations directly.

Beezie, a Teotitlan del Valle rescue dog, 2018

Here is what Mark wrote:

Hi, Norma,

There are 15 to 20 abandoned dogs along that short climb to Monte Alban. They’re usually grouped into 2 packs; they include puppies and old dogs.

I’m on a bicycle. It’s the only transportation I have. But every day for the past couple of weeks I’ve cycled up there carrying as much water and food as I can. It’s never enough. I notice other people are aware of the problem and help, but all the help combined is not enough. I will worry about them if I were to miss a day. 

I would like to see the population reduced.

All of the dogs are well mannered, most are kind, appreciative, and loving. They clearly have been with families and will make great companions. 

Some of them need to be fixed. I’m willing to pay for that. 

I’m also willing to support a number of the dogs with their medical issues and food while homes are found.

I rent an apartment in Oaxaca and cannot keep any dogs myself. I intend to stay here long-term, but as soon as the pandemic has passed, I’ll be traveling for several months. 

Can you tell me of any organization, or better, any person who can advise on this matter or help me with it? I know nothing of Facebook or Instagram. 

Thanks! Mark

Monte Alban archeological site, Oaxaca

Felices Fiestas: Happy Holidays from the Heart of Mexico

I’m smitten with this story about women who weave and use natural dyes under the shadow of Orizaba in the state of Veracruz, just over the border from northern Oaxaca state. It is a testimony to ancient wisdom, the grandmothers, folklore, cultural preservation and the strength of women to remember and to make and to teach it to the next generation. It is a tribute to everyone in Mexico who works hard and under extreme circumstances, to create the wonderful textiles that we love.

See the Video on my Facebook page or watch it HERE (below).

Tlakimilolli: Voices from the Loom from APM-ColMich on Vimeo.

This is a long video, almost 30 minutes. I encourage you to watch it. Then make a gift to ensure support the immigrants who are mistreated in the USA, by choosing one or several of these organizations.

If you have a favorite Not-for-Profit USA 501 C 3 that helps Mexican immigrants in the USA or helps textile weavers in Mexico, please feel free to share a link in the comments, with a reason why you support them. Thank you!

And, please remember, when you make a purchase of a textile that is made by hand, you are helping to support individuals, families, villages, communities and cultures to do more than survive, to thrive and continue their traditions.

Felices Fiestas con abrazos fuertes from Oaxaca, Mexico.