One of the most active charities in the Huatulco area, El Sueño Zapoteco/Bacaanda Foundation is helping communities build schools in the rural, and providing educational materials for the classroom. As has been discussed in previous issues of the Eye, El Sueño Zapoteco has for several years been actively involved in improving the lives of the rural communities surrounding Huatulco. Initially working to provide dental health care and educational materials to these communities, the focus changed last year following devastating tropical storms. Many schools were lost, and El Sueño Zapoteco rededicated its purpose to building and repairing schools, and providing much needed materials to these schools. This includes what we take for granted as a part of any school: paper, pencils, colors, notebooks, literature books, and playground equipment.
In the last year, due to the kindness of many donors and volunteers, one school building was completed and the second is nearly done. The first building completed was for teachers of CONAFE to attend classes themselves, and the current 2 classroom project in El Derramadero is awaiting a roof and windows to be installed. These two school building sites were supported in large part by donors including Susan James and Richard Saunders of Huatulco, whose generosity paid for much of the building of the El Derramadero school. They have adopted this school, and are now spearheading a group of their friends to continue supporting this school, providing supplies and other necessary items for the classrooms.
As most visitors know, Bacaanda Foundation headquarters, with workshop and store, are located in Tangolunda. The crafts workshop employs young men and women creating works of art using natural materials from the region. Periodically, women from the mountain villages also travel many hours to the workshop to learn how to make handicrafts, which are then sold in the store. This coming year many of the items made by these women, including some lovely corn husk work (wreaths, Christmas ornaments), will be available.
The Foundation, as the saying goes, “depends on the kindness of strangers”. Most fundraising is actually done through the purchase of the craft items. However, donations still make the biggest impact. A school can be built for about $2500-$3500 USD, depending on need. They are being built with alternative (green) building materials, and the work is being done by the communities themselves, with support from a building committee that includes volunteer architects, engineers, general contractors, and volunteer workers from the local Huatulco community, including several expats who live here year round. El Sueño Zapoteco continues to need volunteers and money. Volunteers can get their hands into the craft experience, especially now, as they are getting their Christmas rush items completed. There is a signup sheet in the workshop, and if you would like to help out, stop by and sign up. There will be people there to train you, as well as educate you as to the Foundation’s goals and accomplishments thus far.
Donations are always welcome, and the list is long on needs for these community schools. Along with basic school supplies, garden supplies (as the schools are also building community gardens) are needed as well. Marinhe Rosas, of the World Wildlife Fund, is spearheading the gardens, as well as building dry toilets at the school sites. Needless to say, tables, chairs, white boards, markers, as well as supplies all are desperately needed.
If you have the time, or inclination (or dare we say $), please consider volunteering or donating to the Bacaanda Foundation. It is an investment in the future of the lives of these young, rural students, who do not have the economic opportunities that most people take for granted. These are students who have no alternative to education than through these rural schools. The teachers, young and dedicated as they are, teach with nearly nothing, under difficult conditions. As a former teacher in the United States, I felt incredibly humbled when I saw what they were doing with so little. Schools with no electricity, no running water, no bathrooms, and often the teachers live in the classroom, and yet somehow these children are achieving academic success.
Please consider adopting a school, maybe with friends or family. Visit El Sueño Zapoteco and talk with Britt-Marie Jarnryd, the Foundation director, for more information and an overview of the successes they have achieved this year. The Foundation has a Facebook page, check it out or contact information is below.
Fundación Bacaanda / El Sueño Zapoteco A.C.
- Local 4, Centro Comercial Punta Tangolunda
- Bahias de Huatulco, Oaxaca C.P. 70989 MEXICO
- Telephone: 958-5810536
The Bacaanda Foundation (US registered 501(c)(3) charity), all donations are tax-deductible
61 Hubbard St. Concord, MA 01742 USA (978) 287-4564