— Ohki Forest
Chiapas is a southern state of Mexico, bordering Guatemala, a region known for its natural wonders. It is the richest state in Mexico — abundant in coffee, cacao, fine woods & oil, & producing 80% of Mexico’s hydroelectricity. In spite of this, Chiapas is among the poorest regions of the 3 Americas. The systematic exploitation of these natural resources has enriched a few & left the large majority of Maya natives of Chiapas in absolute misery. Additionally, NAFTA treaties & globalization, together with flagrant neglect by the government, have increased & accelerated the deprivation & impoverishment of Native communities.
Chiapas registers one of the highest levels of illiteracy & malnutrition on the continent, resulting in serious social & agrarian underdevelopment. This is a great paradox for a people whose ancestors had one of the most advanced civilizations & highest levels of spiritual development in the ancient world. Indian populations are the first to be affected by globalization & economic destabilization. A male laborer in Chiapas does not earn enough to provide food & basic provisions for an average family of 6 children. Most of the time the children cannot attend school but must work hard in the fields, or sell crafts in the streets for almost nothing in order to meet the family needs. There is no creative future for women except serving their families.
The poor of Chiapas cannot afford medicines when there is a family illness. At times there is little food, if any. Our indigenous brothers & sisters survive day-to-day, not knowing if there will be a tomorrow. Always being poor & having to count each bit of money at every moment creates constant depression, for the evolution of a people can only be based on a natural sense of abundance in life.
In the Western world, we take social services for granted, but in these rural indigenous communities, there is a shocking scarcity of help. People who are ill need to be carried by family members on foot to distant medical facilities where they may die in the hallways while those of lighter skins are attended. Women in labor must walk for miles to get help, as there is no transportation to take them to the hospital. Children have to walk miles every day, alone, to fetch wood & water. In response to these extreme inequalities, Red Wind Councils offers vital support, both financial & technical, to help ensure through our projects that natives re-discover cooperation, find self-sufficiency, & develop responsibility for themselves & toward neighboring communities.
A celebration of the past 30 years of accomplishments supporting the Maya in Chiapas.
The story of Dominga, the reality of an urban indigenous girl & a Maya children’s ceremony for world changes.
The story of Ana Maria, a voice for healing, dignity & justice for Maya women & children
The stories of Luz, a rural indigenous girl, & Consuelo, a Maya grandmother
Our Social Justice Projects include:
- Women’s Development: Sewing, weaving, embroidery, bread making & corn mills, literacy, employment, family planning
- Healthcare Development: Funding for emergency medicines & surgeries, food & transportation subsidies for local volunteer health promoters, building & supplying local pharmacies & clinics
- Educational Development: Building materials for alternative schools, school supplies, food & transportation subsidies for local volunteer educators, shoes & lunches for the children
- General Community Development: Water systems, solar systems, communication systems, community meeting buildings, community stores, community transportation solutions, Fogon wood-saving stoves, organic farming, greenhouses & other ecological efforts
- Urban project: Providing Hope & Skills for Urban Maya Youth. A program that provides culturally respectful education, decent work, legal protection & healthcare to Native children & teenagers who are homeless & exposed to domestic violence, sex trafficking & drugs.
Health: Birthing a Foundation for Life
The Maya people often die of curable diseases such as fevers, parasites, diarrhea, tuberculosis & bronchitis. To meet this terrible reality of their constant life & death struggle, Red Wind raises funds for the medicines needed to prevent, treat & cure these diseases, as well as administering a fund for emergency health-related needs. In the past decade, Red Wind Councils has subsidized the training of several dozens of healthcare volunteers, & built several small clinics in communities, reaching thousands of families.
Food: Ending Malnutrition
Food Projects are at the heart of Red Wind’s concern for the people. Not being well fed is one of the worst aspects of poverty & illness. Seeing young children who never receive adequate sustenance for their proper development is heart-breaking. Besides sending corn where urgently needed, we have, over the years, implemented several options to bring decent nutrition to the people.
Integral Farming projects include greenhouses built with Red Wind funds to grow a wider variety of vegetables for a healthier diet. The main diet in poor communities is often only tortillas & salt, thus the need for encouraging the indigenous to grow vegetables has been pressing. Members of communities learn about organic gardening techniques & seed preservation in the face of GMO threats.
Animal Husbandry projects provide pigs, fish, chickens, cattle, sheep & turkeys. These animals provide wool for weaving projects, eggs for the community, & leather for a multitude of uses. Fish & meat, besides supporting entire communities, can be sold to provide for other sustainable projects.
Education: 100% Maya Today
Proper education is difficult for the Maya to obtain. Government schools don’t offer education in the children’s own languages & usually scorn Native culture. Red Wind Councils has built alternative schools & helps provide Native educators with basic books & supplies for the children. As a result, Native girls & boys are learning to read & write in their Maya tongue, as well as the official Spanish language, thus stopping the brutal cycle of illiteracy & marginalization.
Projects completed over the past 30 years include:
- By building communal stores, we have provided financial resources to communities & promoted collective administration of the resources & goods. The sale of staples has created emergency health funds & animal husbandry projects, among other improvements
- Through funding water cisterns & pipe systems reaching people’s homes, we ended decades of women hauling water from distant wells so they can pursue the revival of their traditional crafts
- By planting trees for reforestation, we created a healthier environment to protect the water springs for generations to come
- By providing Fogon wood-saving stoves, we solved acute problems of firewood scarcity in rural areas & reduced the high risk of serious lung & eye diseases in women & young children resulting from the smoke in traditional kitchens