During the initial phase we raised $4,190, which after GoFundMe fees, translated to $3,936.94 that went directly to this project! Thank you all for the good vibes, shares, likes and donations! We could not have gotten this far without y'all!
As you remember, the money collected in phase one, allowed us to drive from Tacoma, WA to Cuautla, Jalisco, Mexico in order to pick up a hydraulic adobe block press and deliver it to a community in the Mixe (pronounced Mi-heh) Region of Oaxaca, where earthquakes in September of 2017 wiped out roads and left many without a home. We made it! And, as promised, the left over money in the amount of $1,038 has been applied to this second phase of building.
After a mostly uphill drive from Oaxaca city, sprinkled with intermittent stretches of dirt roads and remnants from earlier landslides, we arrived to the community of Cerro Costoche, Santa Maria Tepantlali, Oaxaca in the Mixe Region on May 24th. We were offered a community kitchen to live in, where we fashioned benches and table tops to make a bed and heated water by open fire to have warm bucket baths. Being that Cerro Costoche is 6,476 feet above sea level, night time can get a little chilly, so a splash a warm water before bed was pretty nice.
Even though Spanish is understood and spoken at a conversational level by many, Mixe is the language of the people and used in all daily dealings. Luckily, people were very nice and willing to translate for us. It didn't take long for members of the community to open their homes to us and invite us for coffee and breakfast.
The project in Cerro Costoche consists of rebuilding 26 houses- 16 of which were total losses, 10 partial damage that are not safe to live in. These were the first homes selected to be worked on by the local organization, Una Nueva Esperanza Para Comunidades Mixes, that we have partnered with. The other organization involved is, Casa Samasatti, from Mexico City. They have essentially "adopted" this project and are committed to raising all the funds associated with building these 26 homes- paying the architects, foundation, plumbing, electrical, roof, windows, doors, etc.
Our specific project is to help provide the primary building material- adobe blocks. By tapping into the custom of Tequio- an organized work party for community benefit in which neighbors help each other out in times of need- to provide community involvement and labor, and by using the adobe block press we figure we can make all the blocks necessary to build the 26 homes in about two months time. However, the plan isn't to stop there- we want to make as many blocks as we can while we have the machine, as there are many more people in the area who have approached us for help.
We spent two weeks living in Cerro Costoche, getting to know the community and leading workshops to teach the people how to use the adobe block press. Initially, the community was skeptical about the machine, but once we got into a groove we made 230 blocks in 2.5 hours- a number that can be improved upon with more practice! The houses that have been designed by our partner architect will require roughly 1,500 blocks and though the adobe block press is capable of making two blocks per minute, we are being conservative and shooting for a goal of 600 blocks daily. Currently, it is rain season in Oaxaca and the project is suspended until the weather dries out in early November. At that point we will resume block making, and providing our partners in Mexico City are ready to go with funding, we will start building in early 2019!
Fundraising is now in full effect by all involved! We have been working with the people of Cerro Costoche to sell products that they make and/or are produced in the area including coffee, mezcal and chintexle (a spicy chile spread used by the Mixe) in Oaxaca city. They make the products in bulk and we package and sell them with all profits going toward the project. The money raised in this second phase will largely be used for gas, oil and general upkeep for the adobe block press machine as well as paying for use of an excavator and dump truck to source clay rich soil from a neighboring community as the soil in Cerro Costoche contains too much sand.
Our short-term goal is to fully fund the block making process. Because of the excess funding from phase one and our fundraising efforts in Oaxaca we are only $300 short of that goal!
Once that is fully funded, we set our sights on helping our friends at Casa Samasatti with raising the funds necessary to build all 26 houses in Cerro Costoche. By hitting this $10,000 (minus $4,190 from from the original goal), we will give a great boost to their fundraising efforts!
Check out our short video about the project and the pictures below!
Coffee, mezcal and chintexle ready to sell at our fundraiser event in July.
- Isela Rodriguez
- Lawrence Jeffryes
- Gabriel Connolly
- Allyson Eames
- Ilene Lerner
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