Tag Archives: Philanthropy

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.

Messed Up in a Good Cause!

By Frances Bauer

When I planned my visit to Huatulco I had no idea that I’d have an opportunity to become a parrot feeder. But on Easter Sunday my granddaughter and I accompanied our friend Maggie to the Iguanario in Copalita, a village outside of Huatulco. Maggie and her husband moved from Alberta to Huatulco after they retired. She’s been feeding the parrots at the Iguanario several mornings a week for a while now. The Iguanario’s mission is the protection and breeding of iguanas but when a poacher was apprehended in mid-March with 500 baby parrots the Iguanario agreed to care for them until they were mature enough to release back into the wild. Continue reading Messed Up in a Good Cause!

Project TEN: An Israeli-Mexican Partnership in Oaxaca – Part 1

screen-shot-2017-01-24-at-6-58-43-pmBy Marcia Chaiken and Jan Chaiken

Our visit to Project TEN, high in the hills of Pluma Hidalgo, a bit over an hour’s drive from Huatulco, was one of the most memorable of our many experiences in Mexico. We arrived as outsiders and within a few hours were made to feel at home and welcome to ask as many questions and observe as many activities as we needed to understand the goals, objectives, and processes of the TEN project. Since the TEN volunteers are almost always on the move or participating in meaningful discussions when not on the go, we were totally immersed in TEN life both in the villages they visit five or more days a week and at the isolated, jungle-surrounded TEN Center. Continue reading Project TEN: An Israeli-Mexican Partnership in Oaxaca – Part 1

Babies and The Blues

By Brooke Gazer

Huatulco has some worthy non-profit organizations. Among those is Un Nuevo Amanecer, which helps children who suffer from a wide range of disabilities. With an eight-month grant from Beneficencia Pública, (part of the Federal Government), they have recently added a new proactive program to their already extensive list of services. Hospitals and midwives in our region can refer at-risk newborn infants to UNA, where they are evaluated and treated according their specific needs. These are babies who are at risk of developing a broad spectrum of physical and or intellectual impairments if left untreated. Continue reading Babies and The Blues

Palmas Unidas Yard Sale and the Doghouse Café

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

On Sunday, December 4, Huatulco was treated to its first Bazar Navideño de Segunda Mano—a Christmas yard sale. More than 100 supporters of Palmas Unidas Bahias de Huatulco, one of Huatulco’s two animal welfare organizations, cleaned out their closets and store-rooms, donating housewares, books, tools, planters, clothes, and so much more. Continue reading Palmas Unidas Yard Sale and the Doghouse Café

The Dream Festival: Bigger and Better than Ever!

By Deborah Van Hoewyk

Save the date—Saturday, January 21, 2017, from 5:00 to 10:00 pm. Kick off your new year in great bi-national style as the Bacaanda Foundation / El Sueño Zapoteco stages its second annual Dream Festival (Festival del Sueño). You’ll have a great time in Guelaguetza Park (right beside Marina Park Plaza). Eat Mexican tacos and burritos, right alongside your norteño hot dogs, hamburgers, and Italian sausages! To go with? Aguas frescas, spring water, wine and beer. You’ll get to watch traditional Mexican dancing—even the little kids do it—and the best of local singing groups. There are raffles galore with terrific prizes showcasing Huatulco’s activities and services, and an artisans’ market chock-full of Mexican creations. Not to mention a dunk tank, a zipline for kids, face painting, games—a unique night out in Huatulco! Continue reading The Dream Festival: Bigger and Better than Ever!

The Privilege of Pets

2017-jan-pics-2016-12-22-at-7-48-30-amBy Jane Bauer

My first paying job at the age of nine was as a dog walker. There was Scarlet, a very mischievous Irish setter and two sister pitbulls; people always crossed the street when they saw us coming. My upbringing had prepared me well for this line of work – our house was a menagerie of animals. My father was an animal psychologist: cats lounged on counters, dogs slept on the living room couch, hamsters ran their wheels and there was a red-eared turtle in the bathroom. In the basement there were iguanas and a 10-foot boa that weren’t really pets, but animals that had nowhere else to go. Continue reading The Privilege of Pets

LA BIBLIOTECA DEL MAR A Library and Community Center by the Sea

Screen Shot 2016-04-04 at 8.45.25 AMBy Geri Anderson

Bumping along the narrow country road twelve kilometers from the all-inclusive beach resorts of Bahias de Hualtuco, you wouldn’t expect to end up in one of the most idyllic places in the state of Oaxaca. A few cows graze in roadside pastures, and you’ll pass a banana plantation and acres of tended trees in a reforestation project. A grove of palms will be harvested for palapas and another patch of palms, heavy with coconuts, provide coco milk and sweet coco meat. Here and there splashes of graffiti brighten rocky cliffs. Continue reading LA BIBLIOTECA DEL MAR A Library and Community Center by the Sea

Recap of The Blues

By Brooke Gazer

This year’s “Blues on the Beach” concerts set new attendance records with 610 attendees in January and 630 the following month. In January, the energy level set by Enrico Crivellaro and Brian Templeton was a hard act to follow. However, with Jack DeKeyzer, Cheryl Lescom, Jerome Godboo and Chuckee Zehr all sharing the same stage, the bar was raised yet another notch. I can’t wait until 2017 to see how they plan to top this. Continue reading Recap of The Blues