Jun 19, 2020

Amextra Los Altos in times of Covid-19

Dear friend,

Thank you for being a part of this project and for your interest in learning about the advances of health and nutrition programing in Chiapas.  As with most non-profit organizations, we have undergone some changes to our operational plans this 2020. The global spread of Covid-19 has had effects across Mexico, including in the Los Altos region where we work in this project.  

In the spirit of sharing some good news in an otherwise dark time, here are two of the achievements we had this trimester, up until Covid-19 made our visiting the communities unsafe for our teams as well as the remote tzotzil families. 

Bio filter for water. Right before we paused our visits to communities, in February a bio filter was built the community of Tzacucum in Aldama, Chiapas. A bio filter is a tool that helps remove contaminants from the water using materials such as: coarse gravel, sand, biochar and stones, the purpose of which is that the quality of the water is safer for home use. Eight people from the group in Aldama participated in the preparation of this filter (as seen in photos). Access to clean water is one of the most important determinants of childhood health, and we are thankful to have built this filter as access to water is more important than ever.  

Beekeeping. Beekeeping is important for environmental protection, biodiversity, and as a source of employment and income generation for many families. That is why in the community of Xulumo Aldama, Chiapas, we carried out activities such as strengthening of hives and raising queen bees to introduce to weak hives. Three people who participated in the workshop learned about these activities in order to improve the management and control of diseases in bees and obtain better quality honey and derivatives in the future. During the pandemic our agricultural coordinator has traveled to the hives several times to provide essential maintenance and supervision. However, in to provide the least risk these visits were carried out alone and without calling families to be present.  We were able to carry out a few visits before March, like the one in Xulumo pictured below. 

We look forward to working with the communities in person once again as soon as we evaluate that it is safe. Through these trimestral reports as well as through our Facebook (@AmextraOficial) we´ll be sharing more information about the achievements we have throughout the following months. 

Stay healthy and safe.  

May 8, 2020

Tultitlan COVID-19 Response

A mechanic, a construction helper, a toy refurbisher, and a building security guard. Joaquin, Leonardo, Karina, and Juan. What do they have in common? Unfortunately, all are currently without work due to closures for the COVID-19 crisis and are struggling to make ends meet. Each of their incomes has been reduced to zero for nearly a month. 

Before these closures times were already difficult in Tultitlán and Lomas de San Isidro, where Amextra has worked with families since 2009 and 2006, respectively.  In Tultitlán, most families were living previously on a mere $4,500 pesos ($200 US dollars) per month, an amount that in many cases has dropped to zero, or even into negative numbers as expenses overcome even the small savings and emergency sources of income family may have had. 

Our normal services of formal education, book clubs, English classes and psychological accompaniment in Tultitlán and Lomas de San Isidro to have all been suspended for the time being in response to COVID-19. What families most need now is help reaching their basic needs, and preventing the spread of COVID-19 in their family and their community.

After conducting a diagnostic in the communities, Amextra has decided to provide three types of support for families:

  1. Provide food packages to 140 families
  2. Provide hygiene kits to 100 families
  3. Include verified information about Covid-19 to the families in the form of paper handouts and on social media.   

Our hope is that this support provides not only an economic relief but also emotional relief from the stress caused by the lack of work and alarming rumors about the virus. We completed are first delivery to families from April 17-24, and currently preparing for the second delivery later this month.

Donations to this project at this time will be used for these current needs. We appreciate you being a part of our community and will be sharing updates on the effects of COVID-19 in Tultitlán through these quarterly reports on GlobalGiving as well as on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages (You can find us at @AmextraOficial on Twitterand Facebook, and @AmextraMex on Instagram)

Wishing you the best, 

Stephanie and the entire Amextra team

Apr 1, 2020

80,000 strong standing up for womens rights

At the beginning of March there were two historic days calling for a widespread stop of violence against women in Mexico. On Sunday, March 8th, nearly 80,000 people (primarily women) marched from the Monument of the Revolution to the Zocalo in Mexico City to call attention to the alarming rates of femicides and other acts of gender-based violence in the country. Then, on Monday, March 9th, women staged a national strike, with 7 out of 10 women participating in some way. To participate in the strike, women were invited to miss work, not buy anything, and not use social media as a simulation of disappearance and as a way of remembering and reflecting on all the women who have disappeared or been killed in Mexico. 

These recent events have caused us to see even more clearly the importance of projects like Community Narrative Practice (CNP), which open discussions of gender relations in communities. With CNP, men and women talk about the current relations in their community not by being pressured to talk about their own lives, but by talking about characters in storybooks who were created based anonomous interviews in their community.  With reflection about the current situation comes an opportunity for change. 

Currently, Dr. Kathleen Cash is in the process of reviewing the more than 120 interviews collected in Chiapas and finding the patterns.  Then, the storybooks will be created, local leaders will be trained, and discussion groups can begin. Once we evaluate the program in Chiapas, Amextra plans to implement the program in other regions where we work as well, starting with the Highlands of Guerrero.  
Thank you for joining us on this journey. 

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