Addressing Water Scarcity in Mexico City
Mexico City is the largest city in the Western Hemisphere with about 22 million residents. Additionally, the city uses a lot of water. Mexico City draws on a vast sub-surface aquifer to supply water to millions of residents. Water scarcity in Mexico City continues to increase due to the aquifer shrinking every year.

The Problem

Water scarcity in Mexico City is surprising because the city should have plenty of water. In fact, the area receives more annual rainfall than London, leaving one to wonder where it all goes.

The answer to that question lies partly in Mexico City’s other water problem: flooding. The heavy rainfall that occurs every year during the wet season results in floods that stop traffic, damage buildings and cause sewage overflow. The city has created infrastructure to channel rainwater out of the area to prevent flooding. Furthermore, the existing infrastructure that pipes water is outdated and inefficient. Mexico loses about 40% of water due to leaky pipes. As the city expands and more concrete and asphalt cover the ground, less water will percolate through the soil into the aquifer. In short, as the city expands, the aquifer will get exponentially smaller.

Widespread shut-offs of city pipes are becoming more common due to the growing water scarcity. This disproportionately affects impoverished areas of the city. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this problem and has made the already unreliable water distribution trucks even harder to find for thousands of residents.

Isla Urbana

The nonprofit organization Isla Urbana teamed up with Mexico City’s government regarding the rollout of a rainwater catching system. This system promotes sustainable, reliable water access in areas outside of the city’s central hydraulic network. Additionally, this system goes on the roof and costs around $750. Furthermore, it catches and filters rainwater for use in bathing and household chores. Carbon filters can provide potable water. Additionally, Isla Urbana’s system is capable of supplying households with 40% of their annual water usage.

However, rain-catching systems have the obvious shortcoming of requiring rain to function. Mexico City does receive heavy rainfall. Yet, the city receives rainfall in only a few, select months. It also experiences a few large storms.

Ecoducto

The Mexico City planners decided to bury the area’s biggest river under concrete to make room for more buildings. Since then, the now underground river has become contaminated with waste from the city and is unusable without filtration. Thus, Ecoducto is one project that aims to use natural vegetation to filter the river’s water for public use by uncovering the river. Ecoducto is a 1.6 km long linear, living park above the Rio Piedad that also functions as a completely natural filtration system.

Furthermore, it takes water from the Rio Piedad and removes up to 99% of the bacterial content in the river. Ecoducto removes E. Coli from up to 30,000 cubic meters of water per day. Fortunately, Ecoducto costs much less to build and maintain than more expensive, fossil-fuel-reliant treatment plants. Furthermore, it currently operates at a fraction of the scale that the entire Rio Piedad could if it were daylight.

Both proposed solutions to combat water scarcity in Mexico City are in their early stages. In addition, the government’s promotion of both points to an initiative that improves water quality and access. As the weather becomes increasingly unreliable due to environmental challenges, solutions such as Isla Urbana’s rain-catching systems and the Ecoducto represent the future for sustainable and affordable resource use.

– Kieran Hadley
Photo: Flickr

E-learning in Mexico
In Mexico, education has led discourse within the public and private sectors. Improvement efforts in education depend greatly on government administrations. However, the country’s government has been hindered in its efforts to improve education. Mexico has grown a lot in the last decades, but structural inequality and regional economic disparities are prevalent. Four out of every five people are in situations of poverty or are vulnerable to poverty. Additionally, only 40% of people in rural areas have internet access and the pandemic has only exacerbated this issue. Due to COVID-19, internet service has become crucial to guarantee proper education, as well as tools for students and entrepreneurs. Increased use of e-learning in Mexico is imperative now more ever.

Previous Projects in Education

Approximately two decades ago, Mexico began to carry out several academic-related projects. Universities, such as Tecnológico de Monterrey, and the government worked together to provide information and communication technologies (ICTs) in rural and remote communities. More precisely, the Virtual University of the Tecnológico de Monterrey established an initiative that built over 1,000 Community Learning Centers.

These centers guaranteed online education to rural communities by providing computers with internet access. Faculty members, teachers and students all contributed to this effort. They provided support and guidance to these rural and remote communities, which directly contributed to the development. The beneficiaries of this initiative reported that these centers helped them obtain employment opportunities, carry out their businesses and facilitated educational involvement.

In 2012, México Conectado (Mexico Connected) was implemented. The project’s aim was to provide a national network that guaranteed internet connectivity for the entire population, especially for those in rural communities. This achievement would promote greater access to all people and also contribute to social inclusion. By the end of 2012, there were approximately 14,000 connection points around the nation. Three years later in 2015, the 14,000 connection points skyrocketed to a total of 101,000 connection points. This initiative helped reduce the digital gap and promoted e-learning in Mexico’s public schools and universities.

Current Status

The pandemic has generated a shift in social demands. Actions are needed to provide e-learning — not for comfort, but out of necessity. Public health, social equalities, economic prosperity and effective education all rely on increased access to e-learning in Mexico. Currently, around 30 million Mexicans in public schools must learn from their homes. In cities, the number of people enrolled in online courses skyrocketed, but distance learning in rural areas has become challenging. The cost to rent a computer with internet access — a requirement for remote learning — is approximately $0.50 an hour. This cost may seem low but the reality is that the income in some areas in Mexico can be only $5 a day. Furthermore, nearly half of the educational institutions previously utilizing México Conectado for internet access no longer have internet service.

As a result, Internet para Todos (Internet for All) replaced México Conectado. The new program seeks to provide internet service to remote and highly marginalized areas. It aims to facilitate government actions and promote economic development. Nonetheless, budgetary insufficiencies and improper management of resources have hindered contract renewal with the suppliers as well as the overall availability of e-learning in Mexico.

As a result, the Mexican government was forced to create a distance learning program through television and radio. Although it is a way of solving the problem, it is an outdated method that does not contribute in the same way as e-learning does to the economic development of communities. Investment into the education sector is undervalued as an effective mechanism for poverty reduction. Improved e-learning infrastructure is crucial in order to achieve integrated economic development and sustainable growth.

A Call for Increased E-Learning

Education is a fundamental pillar for the progress and integral growth of societies. It is necessary to implement strategies to fulfill the current social and economic needs of communities. Currently, the education sector is shifting to e-learning due to remote schooling during the pandemic. Even after quarantine measures end, innovative internet technologies will have permanently shifted education strategies. Location will no longer inhibit access to education, as quality education is becoming accessible anytime and anywhere.

Social programs should provide these tools to all the national territories to give students and entrepreneurs the necessary tools to continue creating prosperous communities. E-learning in Mexico enables economic development and poverty reduction, making it the way to a brighter future.

Isabella León Graticola
Photo: Flickr

Indigenous Poverty in Mexico
Mexico has a rich tapestry of cultures mixed together. Its indigenous community reflects its own diversity with many different traditions and languages. However, indigenous poverty in Mexico is very prevalent and many seldom discuss or address the issue. Here are some facts to shed light on the challenges indigenous people face along with examples of their opportunities for a thriving future.

Poverty Statistics

Nearly 26 million indigenous people live in Mexico today. Furthermore, 68 different indigenous communities live in the country. A staggering 75% of these families live in extreme poverty. The majority work in low-skilled, manual labor jobs with little hope of upward social mobility. As a result, many have to migrate from their homes to find economic opportunities elsewhere.

The Government’s Clumsy Attempts To Help

Mexico’s government has noticed indigenous poverty in Mexico. In fact, Mexico has attempted to address the vast economic disparity by investing in large infrastructure projects and supplemental programs. However, the government did not consult with indigenous communities on implementation or whether it may unintentionally harm social and cultural values. Mexican President Obrador announced the construction of a 948 mile-long train to boost tourism in historic Mayan territory in 2018. Many activists perceived the Maya Train as an encroachment on indigenous sovereignty as it would cut through ancient jungles in the Yucatan Peninsula. Furthermore, environmental concerns arose when the construction of the train uncovered thousands of artifacts.

Education Challenges

The 2018 Report on the Evaluation of Social Development Policy indicated some harsh truths about education levels within indigenous Mexican communities. It indicated that adults between the ages of 30 and 64 had an illiteracy rate of almost 20%. More than half of the indigenous population never sought education past the primary level. This reinforces extreme poverty.

Unique Challenges of Indigenous Women

Indigenous poverty in Mexico puts women at a greater disadvantage. A study by the National Institute of Statistics and Geography revealed that indigenous women showed the lowest literacy rates and education retention. In addition, the report showed indigenous women reported high rates of domestic violence, health problems, pregnancy risks and mortality. Psydeh is an NGO that launched projects to empower women from indigenous communities. Furthermore, it is currently raising thousands of dollars to train women to launch self-sustaining initiatives for long-term community growth such as distributing stove ovens and growing organic farms.

Indigenous poverty in Mexico has a lack of upward mobility, poor quality of life and a lack of educational opportunities. Many measures have undergone implementation to alleviate inequality. Moreover, the Mexican government has provided mixed results. However, with help from organizations such as Psydeh, indigenous people can obtain more opportunities for a better life.

– Zachary Sherry
Photo: Flickr

Food Security in MexicoIn 2018, almost 42% of the Mexican population lived in poverty. Furthermore, in the same year, it was estimated that more than 10.4 million people in Mexico experienced severe food insecurity. This figure has risen since 2016, with 10 million severely food insecure individuals registered. CIASPE is an NGO that believes that sustainable living is vital to improving food sovereignty and food security in Mexico.

CIASPE Mexico

CIASPE is working toward food security and sustainability by empowering families and communities through education. CIASPE is located in the central Mexican city of Querétaro, and its food system designs continue to spread through Latin America. Additionally, CIASPE offers training and consultation services that range from the fundamentals of agriculture to the latest innovations in sustainability. CIASPE was founded in 2011 by agronomist and agricultural engineer Gabriela Lucas Deeke. Deeke strives to equate food sovereignty with food security. Furthermore, she works to give communities the tools and know-how to provide for themselves.

Gabriela Lucas Deeke

Deeke has a master’s degree in integrated watershed management from the Autonomous University of Querétaro and another master’s degree in rural tourism from the University of Argentina. In addition, Deeke served 10 years in public service with the Ministry of Agriculture. Furthermore, she took courses in bio-intensive agriculture, which studies how to achieve the biggest crops out of the smallest plots of land.

Deeke’s dream is to give rise to conscious farmers and ensure families can live off what they produce. Additionally, Deeke and CIASPE strive to teach people about the importance of giving back and creating sustainable systems. The organization’s courses reflect this holistic yet practical approach to agriculture.

Agricultural Education

CIASPE offers courses on the fundamentals of farming, advanced practices in sustainability and much more. It opens with basics such as raising poultry, sheep and rabbits. Additionally, it offers a kitchen workshop that focuses on basic nutritional education. The organization preaches respect and care for the land through courses such as agroecology farming, which focuses on making the best use of nature without doing damage to the resource or land. Lastly, it seeks to complete the circle of life with a workshop on composting.

This philosophy runs counter to many of the farming practices deployed today. For example, pesticides and over-farming detract from the nutrients of the crops on an industrial scale. This renders the land useless in the long term. In addition, local impoverished farmers often resort to shortcuts that are ultimately detrimental to their yield and their health. CIASPE looks to combat these harmful practices from the ground up through its educational offerings and focus on the family unit.

Food Sovereignty

CIASPE’s team believes that food security in Querétaro, Mexico, Latin America and beyond can be achieved family by family, community by community. The organization collaborates with other NGOs, schools and entrepreneurs to plant community gardens. Additionally, it employs women who work in handicrafts to help facilitate the sales of surplus produce. CIASPE’s family projects provide a blueprint on how families can live sustainably.

CIASPE works extremely hard to equip communities with everything that they need to be self-sufficient today, tomorrow and in all years to come.

Greg Fortier
Photo: Flickr

sports in mexico
The nation of Mexico is well-known for its tacos and tequila, but less known for its staggering poverty rates and rising obesity cases. The Mexican State of Jalisco has a poverty rate of 41%; nearly half of the population lives without basic nutrition and suffers from the violence and theft of local drug cartels. Children raised in the vicious cycle of generational poverty suffer the most. Sports can provide a refuge for these children growing up surrounded by violence and hardship. Organized sports in Mexico provide children with the safety to build confidence and essential life skills that can help end cyclical poverty.

Sports Address Health Concerns

According to Mexico’s national social development board in May 2020, half of all Mexican children ages five through 14 hadn’t engaged in physical exercise for at least a year. The lack of physical activities and available sports contributes to Mexico’s climbing obesity rate, which neared 30% as of early 2020.

Malnutrition is typically equated with being underweight, but overweight children in poverty are also victims of malnutrition. In both instances, the child’s brain remains underdeveloped and cannot reach its full potential. Without proper nutrients, it is increasingly difficult for children to retain information and benefit from education.

The Social Significance of Sports

An aspect of poverty often overlooked is the lack of opportunity that children have to build and practice social skills. Sports in Mexico provide a safe space for children to play, socialize and build friendships without the threat of theft and violence that lurk on the streets.

Often played casually without referees, sports in Mexico frequently result in a conversation or reflection post-game. These discussions often revolve around gender equality, teamwork, perseverance, diversity or cooperation. Such discussions exemplify how the universal language of sports can help people find common ground and grow together.

Organizations Creating Space for Sports

Organized sports in Mexico offer a haven for children trying to avoid violence. Exercise and engagement in a stimulating social environment provide further benefits for their future. Thanks to the efforts of Children International, there are five community centers in the capital of Jalisco. These community centers provide protected spaces where children can read, use computers, play sports and learn about healthy eating habits.

At the beginning of 2020, the UEFA Foundation for Children collaborated with the Fundación del Empresariado Chihuahuense (FECHAC) to open and run 88 schools that offer an opportunity for children to get involved in sports. The organizations hope to increase that number of schools to more than 100 in the next two years.

The Sports for Sharing initiative, or Deportes para Compartir, aims to teach children healthy lifestyles while also introducing cultural diversity and social issues. The initiative has reached more than 63,000 young Mexicans across the country and aims to expand internationally. The program empowers girls who are playing sports for the first time and reduces street violence by providing sports outlets for young men.

The physical and social rewards that children gain from sports in Mexico cannot be overstated. In addition to health and social benefits, playing sports acts as an escape for children leading difficult lives in poverty. It allows children to feel normal, forget the harshness of their world and imagine a better life for themselves. Moving forward, it is essential that more organizations make increasing opportunities for children’s sports in Mexico a priority.

– Veronica Booth
Photo: Pixabay

Child Refugees in MexicoIn recent years, Mexico has become an increasingly significant place of asylum. More than 70,000 refugees have submitted asylum applications in 2019, and despite an initial drop in applications in 2020 due to the pandemic, COVID-19 claims for asylum in December 2020 hit a record high. The well-being of child refugees in Mexico is of particular concern.

Child Refugees in Mexico

People are arriving in Mexico from El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Venezuela in search of safety, local integration, Mexican residency and a pathway to U.S. citizenship. In 2020, one in five refugees were children. With such alarming demographics, it has been essential for Mexico to address its overwhelming influx of asylum-seekers and find solutions to protect those vulnerable, especially children.

COVID-19 has heightened poverty among child migrants. Child refugees in Mexico are escaping forced recruitment, gang violence and crime that is a daily reality in their Central American countries. This has resulted in displacement, food scarcity and poverty. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, levels of insecurity amongst these children have only increased, with about 5,000 children (60% unaccompanied) returning to El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Mexico.

COVID-19 has devastated children and families as extended lockdowns, school closures, stalled essential economic activities, neglected migrant reparations and rising violence has escalated vulnerability. Children seeking asylum are most affected by the virus due to the lack of access to safe water, sanitation and other essential services. Restricted access to international protection and regular migration pathways are other obstacles they are facing as they search for safety.

UNICEF has responded with efforts guided by the Core Commitments for Children in Humanitarian Action that focus on providing 2.3 million children and their families, including children affected by human mobility,  protection from the exposure of COVID-19.

Trump Policy Endangers Child Refugees

Since the Trump administration’s 2019 Remain-in-Mexico program, 70,000 non-Mexican refugees have been waiting in asylum camps for their U.S. court hearings in northern Mexico. Within this group, 700 children have crossed the U.S. border alone as their parents wanted them to escape the terrible camp conditions and show themselves to U.S. border officials since unaccompanied minors cannot be returned to Mexico under U.S. policy and law.

CBS News reported that the Office of Refugee Resettlement has been able to house all children who had left their parents in Mexico and 643 of them have been released to family members in the U.S. Although this is good news, the Justice Action Center has filed a lawsuit against the Trump administration for its plan to deport children with circumstances like these, threatening their safety if they go back to their home country. The NGO, Human Rights First, has complied more than 1,300 reports of murder, rape, kidnapping, torture and assault against migrants returned by the U.S.

Mexico Enlists Reforms to Protect Child Refugees

As of November 2020, Mexico has approved reforms that apply to children in all migration contexts, accompanied or not. The reform will put an end to immigration detention centers for boys and girls and instead will be referred to alternative accommodation. It will also allow international protection and eligibility for temporary humanitarian visas to prevent deportation or return until the migrant child’s best interest can be resolved.

The U.N. Refugee Agency (UNHCR) is collaborating with associated government agencies, U.N. sister agencies and civil society organizations to certify that referral procedures and appropriate shelter capacity are arranged.

Mexico’s Solidarity Plants Seeds for Progress

For a country that has been overwhelmed by the influx of migrants desperately seeking asylum, Mexico has responded with compassion and an assertion to reform its immigration policy. This combined with other humanitarian efforts will provide monumental aid and help eradicate the suffering of child refugees in Mexico.

– Alyssa McGrail
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in Mexico
The progress of psychology, medical intervention and social work is making mental health and illness awareness a necessary part of daily life. In Mexico, estimates have determined that 17% of the population has at least one mental disorder, with the expectation that one in four people could suffer from an ailment once during their lifetime. According to Plan Seguro, a health insurance provider, the financial and economic costs of mental illnesses in developing countries is equal to 4% of a country’s GDP. Red Voz Pro Salud Mental (VPSM), a nonprofit organization in Mexico, is doing its part to better serve the community and bring understanding and resources to those struggling with mental health disorders. Gabriela Cámara, psychologist and honorary president of Red Voz Pro, addresses the issues surrounding mental health in Mexico through education and the establishment of vital rehabilitation programs and facilities.

Combating Stigmas Around Mental Health

Red Voz Pro Salud Mental is a nonprofit network of organizations providing services for those suffering from mental illnesses in Mexico, as well as their families and professionals in the field. These resources range from establishing support groups and publicizing vital information on social media to providing psychoeducation of clients and promoting laws to the federal government. It also teaches the National Alliance of Mental Health’s Family to Family course and VPSM’s Land Ahoy course for patients. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Cámara contended that the most urgent challenge facing VPSM is “combating the stigma” that comes with mental illness. According to Doctor Medina Mora’s study at the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Mexico ranked second in the world in the level of stigma associated with mental health services. As a result, outreach is a crucial tool in Red Voz’s belt.

The biggest misconception regarding mental health in Mexico is the belief “that one gets better with cleansing or esoteric methods, or that it is the fault of the mother or family or the patient themselves.” This mythmaking, blame-casting idea affects a patient’s ability to get treatment, find employment and social interaction opportunities or disclose their concerns with family and friends. Red Voz Pro’s solution is one of publicity and support.

The Key is Education

Cámara insists that “through support groups, messages on social media and psychoeducation,” Mexico can overcome the stigma of mental illness. By eradicating stigma, the country can turn its focus to fostering a communal understanding of mental health and thus develop a greater ability to help those afflicted. Mental disorders among young people are almost twice as high in Mexico than in the U.S. and Canada. This likely mirrors poverty’s relationship with mental illness. Cámara points out, “lower-income increases the chance of family violence, stress, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicide,” all of which one can combat with education.

Depression will be the second leading cause of disability in the world in the decade ahead and the first in developing countries, such as Mexico. The number of people experiencing mental health illnesses only continues to increase, putting the onus on learning how to recognize, accept, investigate and nurture the thoughts and feelings that one may associate with malaise. While education might appear the trite and oversimplified solution to mental health in Mexico, Cámera asserts it is the way forward.

Institutional Organizations Help Support Mental Health

VPSM focuses on “uniting similar civil organizations with government programs, crisis hotlines, and rehabilitation facilities” as a means to serve its population. The need for comprehensive health coverage is a problem that Mexico, and other nations, face. “Approximately 40% of the population has no insurance,” says Cámara, leaving integral treatments underdeveloped and underfunded. Mexico is waiting to see if the current administration is willing to tackle these issues. Number six of Red Voz’s 13 “Objectives at the National Level” is to work with the federal health system to detect and prevent issues that arise from unidentified mental health problems. By giving an increased voice to nonprofit health services such as VPSM, the federal government can receive support from a caseload and transparency point of view.

Moreover, institutional restructuring and cooperation is a process that Cámara maintains is vital to help citizens get through these hardships. “Institutions must have programs of relapse prevention, support for families, people working to decrease suicide, etc.” Without these social nets, human beings lack adequate understanding of what they are going through and thus make struggle and despair an obvious pathway. VPSM aims to be there for Mexicans looking to steer back toward the road of recovery and community.

Red Voz Pro Salud Mental is consolidating an alliance between mental health networks in Mexico by promoting psychoeducation to improve the quality of life of those struggling with mental disorders. In a world where systems feel impervious to mental health, particularly in Mexico, this nonprofit stands out by valuing human-to-human management, supporting other civil organizations and understanding mental health disorders.

– Spencer Daniels
Photo: Flickr

Slow Fashion in Mexico
Mexico is rich with indigenous craftsmanship but it is slowly disappearing because of fast fashion. Without artisanal work, indigenous communities have had to work in different markets or migrate to seek jobs overseas. This has caused highly skilled artisans to leave behind their craft and their unique culture in exchange for underpaid jobs with inhumane working conditions. Brands and consumers that prioritize Mexican artisanal work help preserve the textile heritage and techniques unique to indigenous communities. Here is some information about the relationship between poverty reduction and slow fashion in Mexico.

Slow Fashion

The concept of slow fashion takes into account the resources and processes necessary to make clothing with a positive social and environmental impact. It means valuing the fair treatment of people, animals and the planet. Slow fashion in Mexico has been most effective through the small-scale, ethical and eco-friendly production of textiles and garments that artisans make. Carla Fernandez, designer and pioneer of slow fashion in Mexico, set the framework to prioritize a bottom-up creation process rooted in studying the artisanal textile-making techniques so that artisans can be the protagonists in the production and design process. This allows respect to go to ancestral production techniques and designs and helps preserve traditional pre-hispanic craftsmanship.

The Partnership with Conaculta

In 2013, Fernandez and her team partnered with the Mexican Secretary of Culture to systemize a methodology to work with artisan cooperatives. The Barefoot Designer Manual published the research and the General Directorate of Publications of Conaculta edited it. Partnership with Conaculta meant greater institutional responsibility for preserving Mexico’s cultural heritage through fashion. It also allowed more designers to take part in slow fashion through the detailed training manual. This has empowered rural artisans because they can receive fair wages for their labor and greater market access as more designers acquire knowledge on sustainable production techniques in indigenous communities and how to fairly integrate them into the fashion industry.

As indigenous artisanry secures more commercial success at international value chains, it also helps shift the industry to slow fashion. This transition especially supports Mexican artisans based in rural areas. In 2016, Mexican Household Income and Expenditure Survey data revealed that citizens within major federal entities earned more than 50% in comparison to those in rural areas. Artisanal cooperatives would help bring economic growth within Mexico’s most remote areas, which was previously not achieved by top-down NGO and governmental development programs aimed at supporting and training artisans.

Benefits of Slow Fashion

At the beginning of the pandemic, Mexico’s federal government and two companies committed to purchasing handmade face masks produced in Mexican communities that the pandemic hit the hardest. The National Fund for the Promotion of Handicrafts managed 139 artisanal groups which included Mayan, Mixtec and Zapotec artisans to make cloth masks using their traditional techniques. This initiative provided $85,560 USD for materials and provided training to ensure masks met health requirements. Every mask produced has had the name of the maker and the name of their town embroidered on it. This initiative is an example of how artisans are capable of producing essential goods during COVID-19 while still promoting cultural diversity through slow fashion.

By understanding the problems of unemployment and artisanal skills unique to each region, it has allowed for economic opportunities to open up. This helps preserve traditional artisanal activities, supports the growth of slow fashion and empowers forgotten and invisible rural artisans.

– Giselle Magana
Photo: Pexels

In the small town of Agua Prieta, Mexico, about 20 minutes past the US-Mexico border, live a resilient, selfless and connected people. Many interconnected organizations are working to improve the lives of the community; making it a safe and enjoyable place to work, live and visit. In the poem, “Home,” by Warsan Shire, it says: “You only run for the border when you see the whole city running as well.”

Here are five organizations working to improve life in Agua Prieta.

5 Charitable Organizations in Agua Prieta

  1. DouglaPrieta Works Co-op: The co-op promotes “a mutual-aid ethic among community members, with the goal of economic self-sufficiency.” They teach women to sew, cook, create jewelry, build furniture and more. This empowers the women of Agua Prieta to support their families. DouglaPrieta Works also encourages people to donate canned goods in return for a hand-made reusable bag. Additionally, migrants who are staying at the nearby shelter are invited to work in their woodshop and garden; in turn, earning money for their journeys to a new home.

  2. Café Justo: Café Justo is a coffee shop that hires recovering drug and alcohol addicts. They partner with Agua Prieta’s rehabilitation center, supporting people on their journey to a better life. The cafe also supports farmworkers’ financial well-being by buying coffee beans at a fair price and selling them at a fair rate.

  3. Frontera de Cristo: Located just five minutes from the US-Mexico border, this organization offers many resources for migrants who are waiting in line to cross the border, either into the United States or into Mexico. This includes information about asylum, warm-weather and winter clothing as well as information about the various organizations in Agua Prieta.
  4. C.A.M.E: C.A.M.E. is a migrant shelter in Agua Prieta that not only offers safe room-and-board but programs and classes for adults and children as well. Because Agua Prieta is right on the US-Mexico border, many migrants stop in this town while they are filing for asylum. Migrant families can be especially vulnerable to gangs; this shelter ensures the safety of each migrant. The shelter often invites students from different countries to converse with migrant families over dinner; these conversations are a meaningful way for students and migrants to connect.

  5. C.R.E.D.A: C.R.E.D.A is a substance abuse treatment center offering rehabilitation programs in Agua Prieta. They also work to help reintegrate those in recovery into society; assisting them in finding housing and jobs. C.R.E.D.A. often recommends Café Justo as an option of employment for those who complete their treatment program.

It is evident the community of Agua Prieta works together to support each other as well as the migrants passing through. These organizations are working to make their community a better place for all.

– Naomi Schmeck
Photo: Flickr

Blockchain Startup in MexicoAs internet connectivity expands around the globe so do the benefits of blockchain technology and its potential to better the lives of those living in poverty. In Mexico, accessible financial services and insurance programs are vital to the improvement of the quality of life of Mexicans living below the poverty line. Saldo.mx, a blockchain startup in Mexico, helps facilitate this access.

Blockchain Startup in Mexico

A blockchain startup in Mexico has utilized the security of blockchain technology to meet the needs of Mexicans living in poverty. Saldo.mx offers Mexicans a secure and easy-to-use platform on which they can pay their bills using remittance money from abroad.

This is a significant development in the Mexican fintech market as Mexico receives billions of dollars in remittances from the United States each year, with $10.6 billion reaching Mexico in the third quarter of 2020 alone.

Especially during a time of economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the ability to securely receive timely remittances is crucial for the financial security of Mexicans who rely on remittance payments for their survival.

Saldo’s services have the capacity to reach millions of Mexican customers, as it has been estimated that by the end of 2020, upwards of 81 million Mexicans will have internet access and thus the ability to quickly receive and utilize much-needed cash without having to wait for physical cash to arrive from abroad.

Consuelo: Access to Affordable Insurance Plans

One of Saldo’s newer services is Consuelo, which allows users to find fixed health and life insurance policies. Consuelo uses blockchain technology to connect its users to an insurance plan with a “smart contract,” which eliminates the need for a claim adjuster and gives the users direct access to affordable plans.

By removing a costly middleman and lessening the financial bureaucratic burden on customers, Consuelo gives its users a chance at obtaining health and life insurance and decreases long-term financial insecurity concerns.

Consuelo also helps uninsured Mexicans bypass the bureaucratic messiness of the national public healthcare system, which is supported by numerous uncoordinated social security institutes. This allows for better continuity of care by allowing Mexicans to remain with the same doctor by staying on their plan provided by Consuelo rather than facing the possibility of having to switch to another doctor through the national system after losing their jobs.

The Diverse Applications of Blockchain Technology

Innovation is not confined to affluent areas of developed countries. Especially in the age of the internet, new solutions can be developed and rapidly disseminated from any part of the world and can impact the lives of millions. In Mexico, receiving international transfers of money and gaining access to affordable health and life insurance plans can be difficult for the unbanked and those without stable employment. Startups like Saldo exemplify the potential of internet entrepreneurship and blockchain technology in helping lift the global poor out of poverty.

– John Andrikos
Photo: Flickr