Tag Archives: helping

The Power of Giving

By Russell T. Greene and S. Price

Every autumn people across North America eagerly anticipate Black Friday (weekend beginning November 25) and Buen Fin (weekend beginning November 18), the kick off for sales to begin their holiday shopping sprees. At the same time, people with a desire to support charitable and non-profit organizations have balanced retail spending with philanthropic giving. Giving Tuesday, which happens on November 29 this year (the last Tuesday in November), was created as “a day to encourage people to do good.”

In Huatulco many charitable organizations and community groups have benefitted from the generosity of tourists, snowbirds, and a growing number of permanent residents who look for ways to support their homes away from home. Donations of time and money have contributed to the local Red Cross, built and supported rural schools and provided much needed medical equipment. Each completed project, and the donations given, is a testament to the calling many of us have to help people living in vulnerable situations.

It’s with the calling of being a Christian that Randy Clearwater and his wife Kimberly were determined to feed the hungry, cloth the unclothed and provide shelter, especially to the widowed, the elderly, and single mothers. After volunteering themselves in Canada, Randy and Kimberly wanted to bring similar charitable work to Oaxaca, though on a smaller scale and in keeping with local culture.

To fulfill this ongoing mission, the generosity of individuals who see the life-changing results of their efforts is needed. Donations in the form of food, clothing, building supplies, and – of course – money are constantly needed. Without the continued support of all, nothing happens.

On September 7, 2017, an 8.2 magnitude earthquake struck southern Mexico, with its epicenter in the Isthmus region. In a rapid response, Randy delivered food hampers to the community of Chahuites, a small, impoverished mountain community east of Salina Cruz, four hours from Huatulco. While there, it became evident that in addition to food security, families were in need of safe housing and basic furnishings.

With the help of local residents, families in greatest need were equipped with material to rebuild their homes. Since 2017, the community has come together to give of their labour, skills and resources to construct 12 casas including making their own cement bricks, adding metal roofs, doors and windows. Randy and Kimberly have travelled several times to Chahuites to witness the progress and they are so thankful for the hearts and generosity of the donors who have made this possible.

Following the 2020 earthquake (magnitude 7.4), with an epicenter near Salina Cruz, and Hurricane Agatha in May 2022, which made landfall at Puerto Angel, access to safe housing and simple comforts like a bed to sleep in and a table to eat at became growing priorities. So, in 2022, Safe Shelters Huatulco was developed alongside the Huatulco Food Bank to give donors an option to support different projects in the community.

Safe Shelters Huatulco has been focused on building basic furniture like bunk beds, tables and shelving to provide the comforts of home. Local pastor Wilfri Justiniano serves as a community liaison and has been identifying families in the area that will benefit from this work. In many families, parents have a bed in which to sleep, but children often sleep on the ground. The cost to build a single bunk bed strong enough to hold the weight of multiple children and withstand the elements is substantial – the lumber alone is well over $5,000 mxn ($250 US).

While there will be volunteer opportunities to build the furniture in the future, there is a constant need for financial support through donations and fund-raising. Without the generous contributions of time and money, these projects are not sustainable.

This November 29, take a moment to consider what is important to you and find a local charity or nonprofit group that needs your support. And remember that while Giving Tuesday makes it easy to get the donations started, your support is needed all year long.

If you would like to support Safe Shelters Huatulco, please donate through PayPal (@rlclearwater) or Interac (rlclearwater@gmail.com).

A New Dawn for Un Nuevo Amanecer

By Dan Thompson

Un Nuevo Amanecer (A New Dawn) is a Huatulco organization that focuses on the detection, prevention, and treatment of disabilities, including educational needs and delayed development needs, in children. This civil association (associación civile, a certified Mexican nonprofit) has been meeting the needs of these children for almost 25 years. It is the only center of its type on the Oaxacan coast; last year, UNA offered over 7,000 individual sessions to about 150 children from Huatulco and surrounding municipalities.
Unfortunately, UNA and its work still remains unknown to the great majority of both locals and foreigners. You can learn more about them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/Un-Nuevo-Amanecer-en-pro-del-discapacitado-AC-185242528169754.
Supporting the Work of Un Nuevo Amanecer
The organization Amigos de Un Nuevo Amanecer was founded to educate residents and visitors about the incredible work done by Un Nuevo Amanecer, and to encourage donations and support for this organization. Their Facebook page is at http://www.facebook.com/groups/219989236981319.
Amigos de Un Nuevo Amanecer started the annual Blues on the Beach concert 10 years ago as a fundraiser for UNA; the event has grown to the point that it provides 60% of UNA’s operating budget. Alas, COVID canceled the 2021 concert, and put a crimp in UNA’s funding, and yet despite this, the center continued therapy sessions, actually treating more children with the assistance of hard-won grants, donations and small-scale raffles. COVID being still with us, there will not be a Blues on the Beach concert of the same scope as past years, but the need for funding remains the same – your donation of $300 pesos (about $15 USD) provides one individual therapy session.

A New Home for A New Dawn
Since its beginning, UNA has operated from the second floor of the founder’s family hardware store. There is an urgent need for a safer and expanded center to enable UNA to better serve existing families, and to assist more families. Now, after many years of effort to build a new home for Un Nuevo Amanecer, it is finally becoming a reality. A building lot has been titled, engineering and architectural plans are being developed, and groundbreaking is scheduled for early June.

The project is split into three phases, each of which will cost approximately $1,000,000 pesos. UNA has secured enough commitments to start the project, but funding for the subsequent stages must be raised. UNA needs your support both to fund its ongoing activities and to complete this critical building project.

Donations can be made via Paypal by going to http://www.paypal.me/unnuevoamanecerhux.

If you require a Canadian Tax receipt, you can donate through AMISTAD at http://www.amistadcanada.org/donate/. Instructions for donating from your bank and by check are on the left; the online donation column is on the right. Please make sure to click on Un Nuevo Amanecer as your desired charity.

The Important Role that Grassroots Organizations Play in Oaxaca, Mexico

By Pete Noll

As I was thumbing through previous editions of The Eye during the start of our quarantine in amazing Huatulco, I was pleased to see a number of social organizations highlighted. After college, I took the path most followed by many of my peers and began a job in finance and sales outside of Los Angeles. Fortunately, that journey ended when I got the news that I had been accepted to join the Peace Corps and would be going to Guatemala.

Since then, I have transformed my vocational pursuit, or life strategy as I now refer to it, to working in social justice, primarily in the nonprofit sector. In addition, I went back to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania) to add to my academic portfolio of the theory and practice of public policy and management, with a focus on structural change. I believe that, while far from perfect, the nonprofit sector can provide a space and balance to address many issues that are underserved, intentionally or unintentionally, by the private and public sectors. I would include independent media as a fourth element, although we are regrettably seeing most of the content absorbed by a handful of corporate media outlets.

Since 1997, I have had the opportunity to work in both rural and urban centers in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico. I have had the opportunity to un-learn a lot of my beliefs about top-down management and miracle market forces and, ultimately, have discovered the empowerment gained from participatory social processes.

I often refer to two sayings that I believe exemplify grassroots work. The first one uses the image of a person atop a donkey, with the caption “Only the donkey knows how hot the ground is.” You can draw your own reflection. For me, I have been humbled time and time again when I have left my preconceived ideas in the background and observed and learned from the local people and customs. In Oaxaca, the people have deep traditions in community action, like gueza, guelaguetza, and tequio, indigenous words (Zapotec and Nahuatl) for slightly different forms of reciprocity. I have been inspired by those forms of collectivism and solidarity. And thus, to my second adage: “If you want to go quickly, go alone. If you want to go far, we go together.” I hold a strong belief that humankind is best served when we can focus on the common good.

For the past 11 years, I have collaborated with Puente a la Salud Comunitaria (www.puentemexico.org); in August I started a position at TASH, Inc. (www.tashinc.org), an organization that helped initiate and grow a nonprofit hospital, La Clinica del Pueblo, A.C., located in San Martín Mexicapam. Since 2000, TASH has been able to support a total of 15 organizations in Oaxaca in addition to La Clinica. During the pandemic, we have also given a grant to a civil society coalition, AMOax (https://amoax.ong.mx/), or Apoyo Mutuo Oaxaca (Mutual Help of Oaxaca), which is giving meals and supplies to low-income families affected by the situation.

One might ask how the Mexican government or private sector supports these organizations. The unfortunate response is their responses are limited, with only about 150 foundations compared to over 86,000 in the United States. However, charity or generosity is complicated and nuanced, as the society and culture practice social contributions in their own ways, such as the solidarity after natural disasters or community support to those who need help. Moreover, differences in tax codes – i.e., whether or not they incentivize charitable contributions – affects giving around the world. Mexico itself has an anti-money-laundering law that makes reporting on incoming funding more of a burden.

In conclusion, if any readers are interested in engaging with any specific areas of health, education, environment, or a whole range of other possibilities, I am a promoter of collaborative efforts and you can reach me at pete.noll@tashinc.org. I live in Oaxaca City, while TASH currently supports projects in the Central Valleys, Sierra Juárez, and the Mixteca.

The Huatulco Foodbank

By Lenore Harder and Tamara Plugers

Community is an amazing gathering of people who make time for each other to help as needed, accept when needy, and be humbled without recognition. In the tropical paradise of Huatulco, we have just that thing, community!

Thanks to several ambitious kind souls and their commitment to help others during difficult times, countless hours have been spent to purchase, assemble, and deliver hundreds of essential food hampers to some of Huatulco’s less fortunate population. As Covid-19 has approached and affected the world, we want to thank these “warriors” for the additional time and energy they have put into this since, almost overnight, the Huatulco tourism economy shut down, leaving thousands without work and the means to support their families.

In 2014 Randy Clearwater partnered with his friend Wilfrido Justiniano and a local church to start the Huatulco Foodbank. The goal was to, in love, meet the physical needs of those in the community who could not support themselves and their families for various reasons. Initially funds came in by means of donations through the local church and the business community, as well as from expats who were made aware of the need.

In time, various fundraisers for the Foodbank started up; now, thankfully, the Foodbank is continuing to receive additional funding to help support some immediate and desperate needs via Facebook. In the past few weeks, hardworking teams have hit the ground running to make sure that as many people as possible could be served with food and basic necessities.

We are blessed to have Wilfri’s wife, Nada who because of her past work experience in the community, is well acquainted with many of the women and families in the area. Both Wilfri and Nada have huge hearts and a gift for comforting and supporting struggling people. One experience stands out in Wilfri’s mind:

One day we organized a trip to El Manantial [a small town on the on the road between Santa María Huatulco and Pluma Hidalgo]. Our friend Pedro, a Cuban volunteer and former Barcelo dancer, and I took around 25 food hampers to deliver to a group of people. When we got there, we realized that about 12 of the people had come from the mountain area called Loma Limón, walking two hours to get food for their families. They explained to us that there was no grocery store available, and because of the blockade [at the airport], there was no way to bring food from Huatulco by car to the community. So we felt so blessed to be able to put some food in their hands.

A hearty thanks to the hands-on team working on purchasing, assembling, and delivering the food hampers. Randy Clearwater, Wilfri Justiniano, Rock Berube, and Manny Novoa have organized and distributed in excess of 640 hampers in Huatulco and the surrounding rural communities. They have been on the front line, recognizing the risks involved in this epidemic. To assist even greater numbers of people, food is also being donated to local community kitchens in the outlying areas.

Let this be an exchange for years to come, no matter the circumstances. People Helping People.

We invite you to contribute however you can. More donations always gratefully accepted. To donate, go to Facebook and search for Huatulco Foodbank:

If you are donating from Canada, you can send an e-transfer; from the United States, use PayPal.
In either case, send your donation to rlclearwater@gmail.com.