Monthly Archives: April 2020

The Oaxaca Mask Project Progress Report #4: Getting Masks to Villages

Thanks to the 58 donors of The Oaxaca Mask Project, we are making and distributing masks beyond Oaxaca city, getting them into villages. Seamstresses we are working with have made or are in process of making 1550 masks. We have received $3,636 to date and all of these funds will be spent by Thursday this week.

To keep the project going, more support is needed.

Donate Here:

We are keeping seamstresses employed and people safe with your gift.

Moreover, friends have made and donated 420 masks that I have shipped to Oaxaca via DHL. Some have also sent the finest cotton quilting fabric that can be sewn there, too. As 100% cloth resources are scarce in Oaxaca, this is an extra-special gift.

50 more masks coming from Sam (Frances) Robbins, Columbus, Ohio

Alvin Starkman, founder of Mezcal Educational Tours, has been a huge help. He has distributed 30 mask to Cuilapam de Guerrero, 20 to San Martin Tilcajete, 25 to Teotitlan del Valle, and 25 to San Marcos Tlapazola. He is also sending 25 masks to the interns at the IMSS Hospital #21 in León, Guanajuato, because they return to work May 1st with insufficient gear. 

Red clay pottery makers Gloria and Maria, San Marcos Tlapazola

Today, he is picking up another 100 masks from San Felipe del Agua maker Rocio Bastida, to distribute later this week to Santa Catarina Minas, San Baltazar Chichicapam, San Pablo Gúilá, San Dionisio Ocotepec and Santiago Matatlán.

Seamstress Ines Lopez Hernandez and her children, Tlacolula de Matamoros

Zapotrek owner Eric Ramirez Ramos is working with seamstress Inez in Talcolula de Matamoros; 100 masks are ready today for him to distribute and we have ordered 100 more. This work is a lifeline for her and her two children.

Gail Pellett, who lives in San Agustin Etla, Oaxaca, is working with a seamstress there to make and distribute 100 masks.

See the Teotitlan del Valle public health video or watch below.

In Teotitlan del Valle, on-the-ground organizer Cristy Molina Martinez gave 46 masks to the president of the Union of Moto-taxis to distribute to all the tuk-tuk drivers. Cristy and Luvia Lazo made a public health information video, and the village president participated in helping distribute masks at the Sunday public market.

Rosario Lazo, is sewing masks in Teotitlan del Valle
Zapotrek guide Rocio Buitron will help Eric distribute masks today

Yesterday, I ventured out with Jacob to the local DHL shipper. The shipment contained 150 masks made by Sam Robbins, Shuko Clouse of Mano del Sur, and Yumiko Wilson. I also included fabric Claudia Michel, and Susie Robison, owner of Cheerio Textiles. Later in the week, I will send fabric and masks made by Sam Robbins (who used to own a quilt shop), Hollie Taylor who makes Protest Pearls, and from Barbara Kuhns in Arizona.

Our DHL box to Oaxaca, Mexico
Shuko Clouse with a bundle of masks

Last week, I met Shuko Clouse, of Mano del Sur, halfway between her house in El Segundo and Jacob’s house in Huntington Beach. We found a leafy, unpopulated park in Long Beach and sat a safe six feet away from each other, talking over a Bento Box picnic lunch. She gave me 100 masks to ship off to Oaxaca that she and Yumiko made. We wanted to hug, but didn’t!

Yumiko Wilson wearing a mask she made for us

Thanks to everyone for your caring and support. Your help is providing jobs for people who sew, and health care safety for those who accept our gifts.

These are difficult times in Mexico, just as they are in the USA. There is both fear and disbelief. The Washington Post reports that Mexico is on the brink of economic collapse and pushing more people below the poverty line.

We are making a very small impact, and yet, we do the best we can with available resources. Everything we do will help someone stay healthy. Thank you.

The Oaxaca Mask Project Report #3: Thanks to the Makers–Our Heros

As it is said, It takes a village, and we have one!

Women are sewing masks in Oaxaca city, Teotitlan del Valle, Tlacolula de Matamoros and throughout the USA. Mask-makers in the US are friends who have responded. They are mailing me masks. I will then send the masks via DHL to Oaxaca using funds raised here. Thank YOU!

Masks from Shuko Clouse

I want to give a shout out to teacher Cristy Molina Martinez who lives in Teotitlan del Valle. She is organizing work with two seamstresses there to make 400 masks for fast distribution. One of the seamstresses is my friend Rosario Lazo, who has a sewing machine that I gave her several months ago. This project will give work to Rosario and who needs to feed her family. It’s a win-win for everyone.

Mask pattern — one version of many

I especially want to thank Kalisa Wells who paired me with Cristy.

Masks made in Tlacolula

Cristy went to Oaxaca city yesterday to buy 100% tight weave cotton cloth. She bought the remaining yardage at Entretela, an excellent fabric shop on Arteaga. All the other fabric stores are closed, she says. Others say the same. Cristy then went deep into Abastos Market to buy the filter cloth.

We talked about how to best get the masks distributed and used. We think it’s most effective to go through the village municipal leaders and Cristy will talk with the community president and head of public health to help. This is because there is a lot of disbelief, especially in the older population.

Contact me to donate masks.

Help The Oaxaca Mask Project. Donate here:

Karen Nein, Eldorado, New Mexico, is making 100 masks to send directly to San Martin Tilcajete. We are paying for the DHL shipment to Jacobo and Maria Angeles Ojeda who will distribute them there.

Hollie Taylor masks with nose fastener

Hollie Taylor, from Chapel Hill, NC, is making 50 masks for adults and 50 masks for children, that I will ship to Oaxaca. I’m set to receive them on April 24.

Shuko Clouse, Los Angeles, California, has made and collected 95 masks. I will receive them on Friday, April 24, too. and combine this gift with the one from Hollie.

DHL can get a box to Oaxaca in three to five days!

Public health education message in Zapotec, translated by Janet Chavez Santiago

As fabric and supplies dry up in Oaxaca, these USA mask gifts become even more important to keep the supply chain open. I have a pattern if anyone needs it — in English and in Spanish!

Thanks to Mask-Makers, Organizers, Distributors

  • Rocio Bastida Cruz, in San Felipe del Agua, is sewing 200 masks.
  • Alvin Starkman is taking 100 masks to Tlapazola and Guila tomorrow.
  • Eric Ramirez Ramos is having 100 masks made in Tlacolula for local use.
  • We received 100 masks yesterday from Cherie Verber in Patzcuaro. She tells us it is the last because of safety concerns to mail.
  • We are trying to identify makers in San Jeronimo Tlacochahuaya

News today is that Mexico is entering Phase 3, the height of the pandemic. Still many people are incredulous. There is definitely more to be done for public health education! And, of course, it is no different in the USA where state governors are talking about opening up! Suspend judgment.

Teotitlan Municipio Government Message prohibiting outsiders from entering

The Oaxaca Mask Project: Progress Report #2–Thanks to Donors

Good News! We have 600 masks ordered. 200 will be delivered by the end of this week and ready to be distributed. 400 masks are being sewn now and we hope to get them into people’s hands by the end of next week. Ojala!

We have four mask-makers in Teotitlan del Valle, one in Oaxaca city, and one in Tlacolula. We are concerned about quality control and requiring that seamstresses use 100% densely woven cotton. We had to correct one seamstress who wanted to use curtain fabric with a open weave! Intervention is essential to protect people.

Public health campaign called for. We attach use and care instructions on each mask.

Teotitlan del Valle Market, April 21, 2020–What do you notice?

Send gifts to

BIG THANKS to all donors (most recent listed first, as of April 22, 10:45 a.m. PDT) who are making The Oaxaca Mask Project possible. Together, we have raised $2,566 USD. Gifts are coming from the USA, Canada and Mexico. People who have a relationship with Oaxaca care deeply.

Winn Kalmon, Taos, New Mexico, and Oaxaca
Beverly Oda, Los Angeles, California
Phil Schlak, Evanston, Illinois
Mike Bronn, Oaxaca
Janet and Jude Waterston
Kajal Patel, Quintana Roo, Mexico
Shuko Clouse, Los Angeles, California
Lesa Porche
Gail Barraco, Great Barrington, New York
Lynn Nichols, Denver, Colorado
Lisa Michie, Newport Beach, California
Carolyn Urbanski
Kay Michaels, Oaxaca
Dennys Eymard, Kula, Hawaii
Julia Erickson, Massachusetts
Sam Robbins, Columbus, Ohio
Chris Clark, Lake Chapala, Jalisco
Sunnie Hikawa, Chicago, Illinois
Natalie Klein, South Bend, Indiana
Laura Renger, Long Beach, California
Lynda Nelson, Reno, Nevada
Nancy MacBride
Phyllis Milder
Barbara Beerstein, Santa Cruz, California
Anne Damon, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Catherine Johnson
Maureen Parker
Sandra Wilcox, Long Beach, California
Gloria Yeatman,
Diana Huber, San Diego, California
Liz Styles
Robin Greene, Fayetteville, North Carolina
Ellen Benson, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nancy Craft, Telluride, Colorado
Marla Jensen, Auburn, California
Diane Manning, Los Gatos, California
Susan Barkoff, Atlanta, Georgia
Jacob Singleton, California
Mary Earle
Susie Robison, California
Deborah Mersky, Johnson City, Texas
Wendy Sease, Durham, North Carolina
Elaine Saunders
Martha Sorensen, Oaxaca
Diana Huber
Claudia Michel, Oregon
Kate Rayner, Canada
Donors to The Oaxaca Mask Project as of April 22, 2020–THANK YOU

Please let me know if you have additions or corrections! And, if you want to tell me your city and state (location), send me an email and I will add it after your name, above.

The Oaxaca Mask Project: Progress Report #1

Rocio Bastida Cruz (right) is sewing masks for us, with help from Dave Crosley (left)

As of today, The Oaxaca Mask Project has

  • raised $1,831 USD
  • received gifts from 31 generous people
  • ordered 300 masks for delivery in the next 10 days
  • help from Eric Ramirez and Zapotrek eco-tours
  • help from Kalisa Wells
  • help from Alvin Starkman and Mezcal Educational Tours to distribute masks to San Marcos Tlapazola and
  • help from Teotitlan del Valle teacher Cristy Molina
  • received mask patterns from Hollie Taylor Novak and Judi Ross
  • translation help from Janet Chavez Santiago, Fe y Lola Rugs

Eric is identifying seamstresses in Tlacolula de Matamoros and Cristy is identifying seamstresses in Teotitlan del Valle. They will both commandeer distribution in their villages. Our goal is to decentralize production and distribution to get the masks out into the villages faster. I’ve asked Arturo Hernandez in Mitla to make and distribute masks throughout his pueblo. All mask-making and distribution costs are supported by this project.

In addition, public health education is essential so people understand why it is important to wear a mask and how to care for it. We are asking each maker to print and attach hang-tags to each mask with this message:

Protégete de la infección viral COVID19. Cada vez que salgas de tu casa usa un cubre bocas. ¡Si te cuidas tú, nos cuidas a nosotros! lavar primero y después de cada uso.

Ways to GIVE and Support the Project

You can make a gift to me directly using this PayPal link:

You can read more about The Oaxaca Mask Project here.

What Your Gift Will Do

  • $25 will buy and distribute 10 masks with hang-tags
  • $50 will buy and distribute 20 masks with hang-tags
  • $100 will buy and distribute 40 masks with hang-tags

Time is running out. The virus will reach its peak in Oaxaca around May 5, 2020. We need to get these masks made and to people NOW. Can you help?

Contact Norma Schafer with any questions or to volunteer.

The Oaxaca Mask Project: Sew and Give to Keep Oaxaca Safe

Dear Friends: If you sew masks in the USA, I am expanding The Mask Project to ask you to mail me masks as a donation to keep Oaxaca safe. Our intention is to give out a FREE mask to all who will wear one in the city and surrounding villages — market and street vendors, customers, NGOs to distribute to their constituency. This will require a lot of masks!

How? You mail masks to me in Huntington Beach, California. I will collect the masks, put hang-tags on them explaining use, and send them via DHL to Oaxaca for distribution. When you SEND ME AN EMAIL, I will send you the mailing address. Thank you.

Send me an email to participate.

We are building a distribution network now — people on the ground who will go out and encourage mask-wearing. The government has mandated that everyone wear masks. Their use is not widespread. Perhaps this is because masks are hard to find. Perhaps, it is an unfamiliar practice. Perhaps it is because some people may not believe the gravity of the virus. We are in novel times.

Our job is to educate and disseminate. Our job is to help Oaxaca and her people. We can do this from afar, too.

Send me an email to participate.

I accept gifts of masks of any quantity, starting at ONE. The more the better!

Don’t make masks? Make a gift.

If you don’t sew, send a gift of money to support the effort to buy and ship masks. Send to: We are buying masks made in Mexico — in Oaxaca and Patzcuaro, too — to fill the need. This necessitates money. Please give what you can. You can also send direct via PayPal to my account there — use Send to Family and Friends:

Mask made by Rocio Bastida Cruz, San Felipe del Agua, Oaxaca

What the hang tags will say:

Protégete de la infeccion viral COVID19. Cada vez que salgas de tu casa usa un cubre bocas. ¡Si te cuidas tu, nos cuidas a nosotros!

Protect yourself from coronavirus. Each time you leave your house use a face mask. It protects you and all of us!

Thanks, Janet Chavez Santiago, for the translation.

Rocio in her workshop

We are using hang tags as an educational tool because many people do not believe there is a virus. It is something they can’t see. Many are uneducated. Many are poor and need to continue working to feed their families. Most have no savings to carry them through. Our help has no judgment.

Send me an email to participate.

Whatever you can do to help will be greatly appreciated.

Rocio’s Story

Rocio Bastida Cruz is a professional seamstress. She worked in a clothing store in Colonia Reforma and recently lost her job. Dave Crosley encouraged her to start making masks. She uses high quality cotton, double faced and elastic ear bands. She explains that to make the cubre bocas, she cuts two 17x20cm pieces of fabric. Everything is double stitched and ironed. She can make 450-500 mouth covers per week. My goal is to employ her and distribute this quantity or more per week, and perhaps she can hire on others to help her. This also expands employment opportunities for those who have lost their jobs.

Thank you for helping!

Dave Crosley is helping Rocio develop her mask-making business