The Spirit of Giving

Interview with Bernardo Sada

Photos by Anna Bruce

In September 2017, three 6+ magnitude earthquakes shook Mexico, the strongest of which hit the state of Oaxaca especially hard. While the village that Manos Zapotecas works in, Teotítlan del Valle, was largely spared, other parts of the state saw extreme levels of destruction and unfortunately, rebuilding has been slow.

We knew we wanted to help. As a fair trade company, our focus is primarily on creating and sustaining jobs. We measure our impact by the work generated and wellbeing of the artisans and pride ourselves on offering opportunity, not charity. However, we've been blessed with a successful year, and we wanted to pass on the abundance, and extend a hand to our larger Zapotec community. 

Last month, for the week prior to Thanksgiving, we earmarked 10% of sales to donate to support earthquake victims. A HUGE THANK YOU to everyone who purchased items prior to Thanksgiving, opting not to wait for sales, but making a purchase when it would directly support those in need.

We scrutinized several organizations doing relief and rebuilding work in the region, and decided to partner with Fundación Comunitario Oaxaca - or Community Foundation of Oaxaca. In the spirit of true transparency, we interviewed Founder & Administrator Bernardo Sada and want to share exactly where and how the funds are being used. 

MZ: Where are you focusing your relief efforts?

Bernardo Sada: We have delivered goods and enacted projects in several communities in the Istmo [region of Oaxaca] including Juchitán, Tehuantepec, Iztaltepec, San Dionisio and Lagunas del Mar, which we visited just last week. We have also offered support to Mixe communities such as Yaveloxi and Yahuivé.

MZ: Can you describe the current state of affairs in the region where you just visited?

BS: It's absolutely shocking to see the current state affairs, even two and a half months after the earthquake. As much as 90% of buildings show damage and many people who have lost their homes and are still living on their lands, roofless. You can hardly drive through the streets since they are still full of rubble from all the fallen buildings. 

MZ: What do you see as being the biggest issue facing earthquake victims and what help is needed?

BS:  A vast number of those affected don't have a roof over their head. As we enter into the winter, people are facing cold nights outside. This is especially hard for the elderly and families with young children. 

In order to rebuild the rubble needs to be cleared first, and this is a serious issue. Huge piles of gravel are polluting the river and breaking the ecological balance, affecting many local species.

MZ: What is the Foundation is doing to help? 

BS:  In the Mixe region we focused our efforts on opening roads that were blocked due to land slides.

In Juchitán, we have focused on reactivating the economy and rebuilding. We are currently working on a house design that is inexpensive to construct and reuses the gravel that needs so badly to be cleared. An example of the kind of economic support we are doing, is raising funds to purchase a loom for a weaver, so they could get back to work, and support their family. 

Thank you to the Foundation for the important work they are doing, and to those who made it possible for us to make this donation, through their purchases. 




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