In early May, covid-19 appeared in Tlamacazapa, a terribly worrisome situation given the number of highly vulnerable people, a situation that will become increasingly critical over the next months.
Atzin promoters are frontline workers in their community of 8,000 people. In spite of the hot weather, they are doing such a good job, distributing food and cloth face masks to more than 400 impoverished families every two weeks. They are visiting every house again this month to provide more information about the care of peoplewith covid-19 symptoms in the home. Promoters are also making sure that people on Atzin’s special-needs list receive their medications and vitamins for chronic conditions, and recently, have assisted women in situations of domestic violence.
This table summarizes advances up to May 15th, all of which required considerable planning, training, organizing, sewing, and sourcing of materials.
Number of families registered for food packages in Tlama – 409
Number of bags (1kg) of beans, lentils distributed – 2,672
Number of cloth face masks distributed (in Tlama and elsewhere) – 2,356
Number of children under 5 years weighed at first distribution in Tlama – 211
Thanks to donations from people like you, the important work of these dedicated and hard-working women continues.
Again, from all of us on the Atzin team, Thank You.
Dear Friends of Atzin and Tlamacazapa,
In these difficult months, now stretching out to years, we persist through the consequences of events beyond our control, events that have taken such a toll on those living in poverty and on Atzin programs and sometimes, have struck hard at the morale of our team.
I take comfort in the wise words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes: “In any dark time, there is a tendency to focus on how much is wrong in the world. Do not make yourself ill by becoming overwhelmed.” (2001/2016).
Clarissa says (and I paraphrase): Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of reaching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small act that one can do to assist another will help immensely.
Having learned the art of survival, we at Atzin know that dramatic change comes with the accumulation of acts, one by one - acts that pile up until their weight collapses the rotting fabric of this suffering world, leaving open the possibility of a new way of being, of believing, of speaking, of behaving, of relating.
Responding to need, we are “simultaneously fierce and merciful” and bravely display “the light of awakened souls in these shadowy times.” Just in February 2020, that light included such seemingly small acts as these,
It is true: when we hunker down in protection, yes - we are safe. But that is not what Atzin, a small but mighty organization, is made for.
In grateful appreciation of your support for these fierce and merciful acts,
As always, Susan
Dear Friends of Tlamacazapa and Atzin,
Known as “Día de los Reyes” (Day of the Kings), January the 6th is a special occasion in Mexico. It commemorates the three wise men who followed the Star of Bethlehem and brought gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh for the baby Jesus. As the Epiphany of the twelve days of Christmas, this festival dates back to the fourth century.
Children throughout Mexico receive gifts on this day after enjoying hot chocolate and a piece of rosca. A rosca is a crown-shaped sweet bread covered in dried fruit that has small doll figures (muñecos) hidden inside it, representing the Christ child. Anyone with a doll in their piece of rosca will provide tamales (steamed corn cakes wrapped in cornhusks) for Candlemas Day on February 2nd.
In Tlamacazapa, the custom of sharing roscas only started about thirty years ago, starting first in the church and primary school, and then spreading to people’s homes. Ana, a young Atzin team member, explained, “People cut the rosca and drink hot chocolate in their homes, but few children receive gifts. When I was a child, the Day of the Kings was a time to drink chocolate, be with my family, and especially, the excitement of finding a doll inside the rosca!”
For families in Tlamacazapa, the Day of the Kings is about togetherness and belonging. Today, the day is also celebrated with a mass, a procession in the streets, and on arrival back at the church, church stewards distribute rosca while children break piñatas filled with candy, oranges and jicamas, and unshelled peanuts.
Learning about the celebratory traditions of different peoples is such a glorious way to enlarge our worlds, and in the process, we become bigger people: more understanding and inclusive and so, stronger in spirit.
In grateful appreciation of your spirited gifts during 2019, and with warmest wishes for 2020,
Dear Friends of Tlamacazapa and Atzin,
Posadas are an important Christmas tradition in Tlamacazapa. Having originated in Spain, a posada, meaning "accommodation" in Spanish, takes place each night from December 16 to 24th, re-enacting Mary and Joseph's difficult journey to Bethlehem and their search for shelter.
In Tlamacazapa, Mary and Joseph, often played by a young girl and boy, brave the cold and lead a procession at dusk through the streets to the church, with participants holding lighted candles and singing carols. Arriving at the church, they sing outside asking for shelter. Those inside sing in response, saying that there is no room at the inn. The song switches back and forth until finally, the “innkeepers” agree to open the church door. People stream inside and gather around the Nativity manger to pray. The hosts distribute food, often tamales and hot drinks like ponche or atole, and the children eagerly break star-shaped piñatas, letting loose an avalanche of candy, peanuts and mandarins.
The posadas are about a pilgrimage in motion, song, food and prayer – an annual tradition that deepens faith and builds community ties. We at Atzin are also in motion, working to alleviate acute poverty and to create a better quality of life. Your donation during this festive season helps us to do this – a sheltering posada of a different sort.
Giving Tuesday on December 3rd is DONATION DAY! The Giving Tuesday Campaign at Global Giving, our crowdfunding partner, means proportional distribution of US$500,000 among participating NGOs. Again, be prepared on Tuesday, December 3rd. Your donation will be boosted – support that is also in motion!
Gratefully as always, Susan
November 1st, 2019
Dear Friends of Atzin and Tlamacazapa,
Today is the Day of the Dead here in Mexico when departed loved ones are remembered with ofrendas, special alters that are set up in homes to celebrate their lives and acknowledge their passing from this world. The ofrenda is adorned with candles, photos, cempasúchil (tall marigolds), flor de terciopelo (velvet flower), fruit, favourite foods, and delicious pan de muerto (bread of the dead). People await the spirits of their loved ones who will gently visit during the night. Today and tomorrow, families form a steady stream into the cemeteries, cleaning the grave sites, and placing incense and flowers. Many will share a meal while others play guitars and offer songs to their departed. The smoke and smell of copal hovers like a light fog over everyone present.
Among the Atzin staff and families in Tlamacazapa, we have lost many this past year, and while this loss has taken its toll on everyone, now is a time to remember them. In Mexico and across the Americas, people are again engaged in fierce struggles against inequality, racism and ecological degradation, with the deaths of students, environmental activists, immigrant children escaping violence and acute poverty, and those protesting unfair prices and privatization. The celebration of the Day of the Dead is an act that honours death, life and resistance. Especially today, sorrow about loss is held simultaneously with a determination to hold on tight to a spirited dream of a bountiful future for the living. Your support helps us to hold on tight.
Abrazos fuertes to everyone.
Gratefully as always,
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