Wednesday, September 13, 2017

"Help the Poor" in the Aftermath of Earthquake

(Photos for this article, showing the aftermath of the earthquake,
were downloaded from the Internet)
Help the poor.
Help poor me.
I'm in trouble, don't you see?
Only your love can save me.
Help the poor! Help the poor!
-       B.B. King

Listening to B.B. King and Eric Clapton sing the song “Help the Poor” seems appropriate during these days following Mexico’s strongest earthquake—magnitude 8.2—in a century. It occurred just before midnight on Thursday, September 7. I was lying in bed in my third-floor apartment when the shaking began. I have experienced several earthquakes in Mexico during the past thirty-five years, but this was definitely the scariest.

Mexico’s three most indigenous states—Guerrero, Oaxaca, and Chiapas—are also Mexico’s poorest states. Here in Guerrero there were landslides and blocked roads but no loss of human life and little destruction of buildings. The situation was very different in Oaxaca and Chiapas, home to about nine million people. About a hundred people were killed, thousands were injured, thousands lost their homes, and many schools and hospitals and churches and workplaces were damaged or destroyed.

For years Mission Mexico has been a partner with the Missionaries of the Holy Spirit, first in Tlapa and presently in San Marcos Xochitepec, here in the State of Guerrero. This religious congregation quickly organized an effort in Mexico City to respond to the needs of the injured and displaced people. My respect to these friends for their quick response to the crisis.

Another partner of Mission Mexico, the Champagnat High School of the Mountain, run by the Marist Brothers in Potoichan, learned that a high school also run by the Marist Brothers in Ixtaltepec, Oaxaca, was badly damaged by the earthquake. The school had to close its doors for the time being. It is too early to say when the school may be able to function again.

And Mission Mexico has heard from many of the young people who are studying university in different places in Mexico thanks to a scholarship from Mission Mexico. These students tell of classmates who now have no home to return to or who lost family members. In many places these students are organizing to assist their friends in this terrible time of need.

Other friends who have been involved in assisting the indigenous communities here in the Mountain of Guerrero were also affected by the earthquake. Just as an example, Father Eleazar Lopez Hernandez, who works with CENAMI (the National Center of Support for Indigenous Missions), now has to help his elderly parents whose home was destroyed by the earthquake. Bishop Alejo Zavala Castro, who visited Canada several times as a guest of Mission Mexico, is the vice president of the Advisory Board of CENAMI. And people involved in health and education projects from the impoverished area of Xalpitzahuac—with support from Mission Mexico—are also partners with CENAMI.

So, with so many of Mission Mexico’s friends—and friends of friends—directly affected by this terrible tragedy, B.B. King’s lyrics seem apropos. “Help the poor.” “I’m in trouble, don’t you see?” “Only your love can save me.” The Diocese of Calgary, through Mission Mexico, has been trying to share that love for the poorest of the poor for almost twenty years. Thanks to the supporters of Mission Mexico for your solidarity.

No comments:

Post a Comment