Atzin promoters during covid training
Dear Friends, after four months in the thick of covid in Tlamacazapa, I recorded a message to donors and volunteers shortly after my return to Calgary earlier in September - please have a look,
When I look back on our covid work in Tlamacazapa over the past six months, the whole experience takes on a blurry, rather exhausted feel, and it is difficult to distinguish one day from another.
As a team, we planned a covid response and worked the plan thoroughly – that all was immensely satisfying. At the same time, we were rebounding from one crisis to the next: a family devasted by a death; a critically sick person suffering at home, refusing to go to hospital; too many people asking for food, far exceeding our supplies; key staff waylaid by injury and illness.
All the while a constant underlying tension existed, urging us to get organized; figure out the different presentations of covid in this population; fend off covid naysayers (who just ignored the death count and the sheer numbers of really sick individuals); deal with street stress caused by men hanging around drinking; and importantly, remain united as a group despite the workload.
Highlights of our work are:
- Ten distributions of food packages (beans, rice, lentils and more) every two weeks, increasing from 400 families to 780 families by distribution #8. Negotiation of donations from private businesses in Mexico as well as from individuals and groups internationally; transport and storage of food on site; development of systems and promoter training for orderly distributions.
- Production of seven flyers and information sheets in Spanish, posted on atzin website;
- Completion of two rounds of covid education visits to all households, street by street, by promoters;
- Rapid shift to production of 4,200+ cloth face masks in the sewing workshop, with distribution;
- Condolence visits to families with a death, with gift of food package, 200 pesos and confirmation of symptoms of patient;
- Initiation and maintenance of a detailed death registry for Tlamacazapa from 26 April- 24 August (total of 47 deaths, of which 38 probable covid);
- Production of a five-minute video about covid in Tlamacazapa, with Rodrigo Cruz (see below);
- Delivery of 22 information packages with example flyers and information sheets to different institutions, government departments and women’s groups in Guerrero.
Without diminishing the suffering caused by covid in this vulnerable population of 8,000, there were evident blessings: promoters learned to carry greater responsibility by suddenly having more responsibility; their organizational skills advanced considerably as they processed hundreds of families; and importantly, stronger goodwill between Atzin and the community was forged by fast response to acute need and visits of condolence to those with a death in the family. The promoters’ work as frontline workers over the past six months was nothing short of inspiring.
On a different note – the long-awaited re-construction of the Atzin website is now LIVE. Check it out at www.atzin.org. A wizard of a woman, Terri Charchuk, took on that immense task (interesting tidbit: Terri was one of Atzin’s first international volunteers, arriving in 1999 for four months). Also, a group of four (Phil, Shelley, Ann, Naomi) kept up zoom conversations with me each Sunday for four months – listening, encouraging, giving thoughtful questions and comments. I cannot thank all of them enough.
Again, our grateful appreciation to all of the heroes of the heart who donated, supported and cheered us on during these months.
PS in case you missed it, our 5-minute video on covid in Tlamacazapa