Tag Archives: donations

Sunday Gratitude from Oaxaca Street Children President: Ojala!

The impact of our gifts has been felt! Oaxaca Street Children president David Slaymaker wrote to tell us so and add his thanks. (See below)

Yesterday, I made a personal gift to Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots to sponsor the education of a child for one year. The cost: $250. It seems like a small price to pay for help that will go a long way, administered by a trusted organization. If you can, please make a matching gift. This is one very important and direct way to help Oaxaca during this time of unprecedented crisis.

Make your donation here.


Hi Norma- This is Dave Slaymaker from Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots. Thank you so much for putting Marla’s guest article on your site. The response has been, frankly, amazing!  I also noted that you just made a donation for a sponsorship as well. Thank you so much!

I am still trying to tally all the donations generated from your site and Marla’s guest article, but with yours we have at least 7 new sponsors and numerous donations. As an example, I got a new sponsorship today inspired by Marla’s article on your site, had a brief correspondence with the donor, and he immediately sent an additional $1,000 for the general fund.

As you well know things are very difficult in Oaxaca and environs lately and I worry daily about our families. My biggest fear is that they will return to the kind of poverty I was seeing 20 years ago ago. Fortunately, with help from people like you and those that follow you we are able to continue our primary mission – education, and have expanded to food distribution as we seek to keep our families safe and well. Right now we have around 700 children and young adults in our program and around 550 families so the help we have received from those that follow you will have a tremendous impact!

Again, I have never seen a response like this for anything we have done in the past and I have been president of the organization for more than 10 years. I can’t begin to express my personal appreciation, and I can’t tell you how much your spreading the word is helping our work. I would like to get down to Oaxaca as soon as possible, but with the pandemic I don’t know when that will be- hopefully soon. I would certainly like to meet you and thank you in person when I do so.

On behalf of the children, young adults, and families we serve in Oaxaca, my sincerest thanks!



You are so generous, my friends! You have my personal and heartfelt thanks, too, for everything you do for the place we love … Oaxaca!

Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots — Centro de Esperanza de Infantil

I have offered FREE FACE MASKS to Oaxaca Street Children, too, made possible by the gifts that many of you have made to our Oaxaca Mask Project. The face masks, or cubrebocas, are sewn by women friends in Teotitlan del Valle, Oaxaca. They are needing work, too, and this project gives them a lifeline for direct support from us.

If you have the inclination to help with a donation to to the mask project, please choose one of these links. You can be assured that we get these masks to people who need them most.

Still accepting gifts. To contribute to The Oaxaca Mask Project, click here:

And, stay tuned for more Oaxaca huipiles coming in the next week from San Mateo del Mar on the southern Oaxaca coast, hard-hit by the 2018 earthquake and not yet recovered, and the third shipment coming in from San Juan Colorado.

Finely woven blusa from San Mateo del Mar

Guest Post: Help for Oaxaca Street Children

Marla Jensen wrote to me to ask if I can help put the word out for help to support The Oaxaca Street Children Grassroots. This is the USA-based, 501 (c) 3 not-for-profit that provides funding for Centro de Esperanza Infantil in Oaxaca. Some of you know it, located on Crespo Street. Marla knows how generous our readers are because you have been so supportive of The Oaxaca Mask Project. I invited her to write a guest post to tell us why help is needed during these Covid-19 times. I hope you read through this! It is worthy of our generosity.

By Marla Jensen

They say: Give children pesos on the street and you feed them for a day. Give them an education and feed them for life.

Oaxaca is a magical destination for so many of us who love Mexican art, culture, food, history, and adventure. These charms sometimes mask the reality that Oaxaca is the second poorest state in Mexico, with the poverty rate nearly three times the national average.

About 24% of Oaxaca people live in extreme poverty. Oaxaca’s population is about 58 percent indigenous, with many living in relatively isolated rural locations with marginal services such as electricity and clean water. Getting an education is only a dream for many children. We have seen young children in the city working all day and late hours to earn money for their families.

Families try to survive on an average daily wage of $6.00-$7.00 USD. Their future is dim without the promise of an education. Current conditions with Covid-19 make the conditions much worse for poor families.

Your support matters because we give kids a start here. Many go on to graduate from college.

As visitors or expatriates, how do we give back to a place that gives so much to us? Our tourism dollars help, we buy the beautiful crafts, and try to respond with donations to those on the streets. But what about giving a child an education?

How Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots Started

After many years of helping children in Oaxaca, in 1996 a couple from the U.S., Jodi and Harold Bauman, along with friends and supporters, created a non-profit 501-C called Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots (OSCGR) with the mission to help get children off the streets and into school. To facilitate the work in Mexico they partnered with Centro de Esperanza Infantil, which does the work on-site in Oaxaca.

Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots has a volunteer board in the United States dedicated to supporting and providing funding to Centro de Esperanza Infantil. The Centro has a small staff and volunteer help who provide continual services to about 700 children and youth.

Donate Here!

The Centro de Esperanza Infantil is a warm welcoming center on Calle Crespo providing social services, a daily meal, some medical and dental services, tutoring, a computer lab, and library. If you drop by the Center, you will see happy kids, a beautiful environment, international students volunteering, and lots of energy.

Children attend public school with the donated funds. The original goal was to serve children who had never attended school and for them to complete sixth grade. Now, they serve the poorest children who need support to remain in and complete school. OSCGR takes students all the way through university. There are now almost 600 students enrolled in the program from elementary through high school. An additional 104 are enrolled in technical, university and graduate school programs.

In the Spring of 2020, they celebrated their 100th university graduate!

Marla’s Personal Story

I first visited Oaxaca in 1986, following my interest in folk art. For almost 35 years I have returned regularly and deepened my relationship with this magical place. My sister Sharon and I learned of Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots in the 1990’s and together we sponsored an 8-year old child, Bryan Flores Vallejo. We met his family, took him with us when we visited sites, and introduced him to our families. He graduated from high school and now runs a successful business. I love the relationship we have had as his madrinas.

Sharon, Bryan and Marla

Sharon and I operated La Sirena Oaxaca Gallery for several years, buying and selling folk art, and donating a percentage of profits to OSCGR. We invited friends to Oaxaca with us, bringing along donations of clothing, toothbrushes, and school supplies.

Sadly, in August 2019, my sister Sharon passed away from metastatic melanoma cancer. As a way to honor her memory as a teacher and lover of Oaxaca, I gathered a group together and we sponsor Sharon’s Children. What a meaningful legacy……to educate five children!

I am so pleased to turn a personal loss into something positive. I have recently joined the Board of Directors of Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots and am hoping to spread the word about this wonderful program.

Covid-19 is taking it’s toll in Oaxaca as around the world. The lack of tourism greatly affects the economy and already marginalized families are struggling. Oaxaca Streetchildren has put out requests for additional donations and the response has been tremendous, but it is still not enough!

The Centro has been able to give out several hundred “dispensas”, or food packages. There has been additional help given as needed for utilities, water, medical needs. The center has been modified to provide physical distance and safety so services may continue.

There are several ways to support Oaxaca Streetchildren Grassroots. Your donation of $250 a year will enable an individual child to get an education. A $500 -a-year-gift will support a university student. You will be assigned a specific child and receive information about them and their academic progress. You will be able to visit and develop a relationship if you choose.

Your donation gives the child a pair of shoes, a pair of tennis shoes, a school uniform, a P.E. uniform, a backpack, school supplies, inscription fees, guidance and counseling. In addition, the child may come to the center for a daily meal, use the computers, library, take extra classes, get tutoring and help with homework.

You may also donate to the general fund and the gift will be used for children who do not have a sponsor or for other program expenses.

Please make a gift. Your support has a direct benefit to make a difference in a child’s life. And, your gift is USA tax-deductible.

Thank you.

Together We Will Change the World Through Education!

More Masks Needed for Oaxaca: Will You Help?

So many of you have been very generous with repeated gifts since we started the Oaxaca Mask Project in April 2020, as soon as covid-19 reached Oaxaca and started to spread. Requests for masks continue. The need now is more in the remote villages than in the city, I’m told. Will you consider us again in giving support to Oaxaca?

Puente gave our masks to Mixtec farmers

We ordered the making of 400 masks today from your gifts! Thank you!

Late last week, Alvin Starkman from Oaxaca Mezcal Tours, who has been an immense help distributing masks, wrote this to me after I asked the question, Does Oaxaca need more masks?

Actually, more masks are indeed needed, so if anyone wants to participate in the program, contact Norma Schafer to donate so we can get more produced. I am mentioned regarding distribution in San José del Chilar. I just learned last night from Lucina, doctor in charge of the health clinic in the village, that word has gotten around that she is giving them out to those in need, so much so that some people are coming to the clinic and feigning injury just so they can get a free cloth mask. So we need more for the Cañada district of the state.

Drivers use our masks when delivering Food For All orders

We are down to zero masks to distribute! We have had some funds come in over the last couple of weeks and I have asked for another 100 to be sewn right now for distribution. Still, we can use many hundreds more. It takes a bout a week to cut and sew 100 masks. We have sewists in villages waiting for our contact to sew more. Can you help us do this?

If you are inspired to give to The Oaxaca Mask Project, click here:

Many of you are keeping up with the semi-foro (traffic light) system of virus spread alerts in Oaxaca. The state continues to move back and forth between red (stay home) and orange (proceed with caution). Green is not in sight. Many of us believe that orange is in place to keep the informal economy functioning, otherwise people will starve. There is not less virus than there was before! Mexico is third in the world for virus spread and the health system cannot handle the number of cases.

Our masks covering medical staff at Oaxaca’s IMSS hospital

We will also provide masks for Friendly Food Donations. Here is what founders Jesi Jello and Erick Garcia Gomez say: Hello Friends! We are looking for mask donations here in Oaxaca City for our upcoming food deliveries, many people in the communities we donate food to do not have a mask or they do not have one that properly protects their nose and mouth. Often they have 2 amongst a family of 7 people.

And, this came in from Tanya LaPierre in Oaxaca who volunteers with local communities and is an active leader in an animal rescue/spay and neuter clinic.

Norma, I am contacting you about getting masks to San Isidro Roaguia. I will be doing a fundraiser for food basics for the village, and no one there has masks.

I replied to Tanya, yes, of course, we will make and give you as many masks as you need!

Mask wearing family, Teotitlan del Valle

If you are inspired to give to The Oaxaca Mask Project, click here:

Of course, this promise to make masks depends on the generosity of our readers. I know many of you have given and continue to do so. Will those of you who haven’t yet, will you please consider supporting our effort.

With deepest thanks,


Friendly Food Donations

We are still here! Covering Faces in Oaxaca

I must confess it is difficult to be away from Oaxaca for so long. I have peripheral news to give you about daily life other than what we all read. I’m in the same boat as you … depending on others to tell me what’s going on!

Mostly, it’s the same story. The Orange Light is now on. Which means that businesses are opening up and people are back on the streets and in the markets — except for those who are disbelievers. It’s important now to continue to question the common sense of business as usual, here or there. (Name your location.)

Lucina and Kalisa with 60 masks

Kalisa tells me that she is still in hiding for the most part, and stepping cautiously and quickly in and out of Benito Juarez Market. Most of our guera friends continue to isolate, wear masks and keep distance when out and about. My family in Teotitlan del Valle is doing the same.

About the Photo Above: On the left is Alvin Starkman’s goddaughter Lucina. He and Arlene have been supporting her education for many years and she has just finished medical school. She will be taking 60 of our masks to a remote village (TBD) where she will do her public service at the end of the month. Kalisa has a repository of our masks that she keeps on hand to give to those in need. Alvin and Lucina picked them up the other day.

We continue to make and distribute masks.

A friend told me the risks in the villages are still high and people are dying, especially the vulnerable elderly. Numbers, I’m told, are in high double-digits, for some villages where commerce is a way of life.

Still accepting gifts. To contribute to The Oaxaca Mask Project, click here:

We continue to make and distribute masks, albeit as I said earlier, at a slower pace. But, your gifts continue to be welcome.

Representative weaving examples from new project

I am working on a new project.

Soon, I will receive a shipment from a remote Oaxaca coastal village. The women there grown their own cotton and use natural dyes to color it. They formed an outstanding 16-member cooperative, but they have no Internet presence — no knowledge of technology and limited marketing savvy. I will help them sell during this time of scarcity.

Photo by Ana Paula Fuentes

The box contains a dozen beautiful hand-woven textiles fashioned into garments that are a perfect weight for summer. Here in North Carolina, it’s been over 90 degrees and this will continue for another couple months. Clothes that breathe are essential for this climate and many other parts of the USA.

I will post photos and prices here as soon as the box arrives.

Made by hand, indigo and wood bark fine gauze blouse

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