“They beat us and left us for dead!”
That is how Gaspar Chablé Camaal, one of my partners, and a dear friend in Oaxaca, described what happened last weekend in Eloxochitlán. the village where I took a medical team last October.
Church and community development is my day job in Mexico. For over 20 years, I have worked to bring hope, life and help to people, primarily in the cities of Ensenada, Guadalajara and Oaxaca.
I have seen villages bulldozed, unimaginable poverty, protests and faces literally scratched off by children affected by lice. Nothing prepared me for the news from my friends that they were under attack in Eloxochitlán last Sunday.
If you talk to different people, you will hear different reasons about why this happened. However, the basic facts remain the same.
On Sunday, December 14th in the middle of the day, Eloxochitlán, more than 6 hours away from Oaxaca City, erupted in political violence between people holding opposing views of the role of government in everyday life.
At the end of the day, 2 people died, both friends of mine. It turns out that people we expect to keep the peace, were the instigators of the violence. Currently the mayor and the police chief of Eloxochitlán are in jail for their roles in this tragedy.
Gustavo, one of the dead gave his life protecting our partner Elisa Zepeda. Gustavo leaves a wife and 4 kids. Manuelito, Elisa’s brother, was also killed in the violence. He was stripped, tied to a pole and beat to death. He leaves a wife and two young children. One of the women beat is 86 years old.
Multiple houses were set afire, houses where our medical team recently stayed. Cars, trucks and businesses were burned and people near and dear to us, including Chablé, were seriously beaten. Two of them, Malena and Elisa, are still in the hospital, having been beaten to within inches of their lives. Doctors are now working to save Malena’s right eye and help Elisa walk again.
The houses of everyone who served with us, where we stayed while helping more than 350 people receive medical care, were the main houses attacked. Some were completely destroyed. I know every single person affected by the events of that day.
Having lost everything, the families escaped to my friend Chablé’s ranch south of Oaxaca City, near Zimatlán. to recover, rest, and consider their future. It is at this ranch that we hold our summer camps for kids. While there, the kids learn important life skills, techniques for increasing crop yields, effective water use and even cooking skills.
Guelaguetza Restaurant of Los Angeles and Origen, of Oaxaca have both helped sponsor these camps in previous years, and much thanks is due to both Rodolfo Castellanos and the Lopez family for their incredible help.
We now have five families living at that ranch. Many of them have lost everything. Houses? Gone. Furniture? Gone. Clothing? Gone. Property? Gone. Money? Gone. Cars? Gone. The other day a local church brought some clean clothes for the kids. Finally they could change their dirty clothing.
Step back and think about that for a moment. They have not lost a lot of stuff… they’ve lost everything.
As Chablé put it, we now have a group of refugees and no way to get around town and get the things they need. His truck was one of those burned in Eloxochitlán. Stop and consider what that means. A rancher has no way to go and get food. No way to bring feed back for his animals. No way to take his young son to to school.
I doubt many can imagine what that must be like. You wake up one morning, and by the time the day ends, you’ve lost everything.
I need your help. My friend Chablé needs your help. Manuel, Vicente, Malena, Elisa, David, their families, friends and kids need your help. 10 adults and eight children.
The government of Mexico is not going to help in Oaxaca. The evening news is never going to publicize this and ask people to help make Christmas happen in the face of this unspeakable tragedy. No one will be starting an internet campaign to help them. No one will be reaching out to help these people.
Except us, and if you choose, you.
I am asking you to consider making a sizable donation to these families. We need to pay off medical bills, provide food, clothing and see if we can get Chablé another truck to replace the one he lost.
Our foundation goal is to raise $20,000.00 in the next two weeks. That will enable us to get a truck and provide for the families who are now living at the ranch. We expect that they will be there for at least a month.
Many of you reading this, particularly if you are in Oaxaca, have known me for years, and know my work. We’ve provided water wells for people, water filters, personal greenhouses so people can grow vegetables, and all manner of humanitarian help. We’ve held medical clinics in Ensenada, the central valley of Oaxaca, the Amátlanes, and of course, Eloxochitlán. We cried and prayed with more people in Mexico than we could count.
You have always said if there ever came a time when I needed you, to let you know.
This is that time.
Here’s how you can help, even if you are new to My Mexico and just love the people of Oaxaca…
Give financially. 100% of what we receive towards this relief effort will be used to support the displaced families, Chablé, as he serves them, and the expenses at the ranch where the families are now housed. You can give electronically through Adventures in Life, my foundation for work in Mexico or by sending a check to the address below. Any donation is 100% tax deductible.
If you are in Oaxaca, help provide food for our people. Even 20 kilos of rice, beans, or carne, will make a substantial difference.
If you are a chef, or connected with the food industry in Oaxaca, go to our ranch and cook a meal or two for our people. Chablé’s wife is exhausted from serving this group and I know your help would be appreciated.
Finally, pray! The people of Mexico have a long history of turning to God in times of need. Let’s ask him to help.
If you need more information, or would like to visit the ranch in Oaxaca, leave us a comment, and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible with directions.
The events in Eloxochitlán exposed the worst of Mexico. Imagine if this time, in the face of yet another unspeakable tragedy in Mexico, together, across borders and cultures, we could link arms and make a real difference for a change.
Think about it, and thank you in advance for your support, prayers, and consideration.