After the earthquake that shook Mexico and the hurricane that hit Puerto Rico, Latinos Unidos de Alaska raised funds to help the victims. Along with the support of the Anchorage community, Latinos Unidos de Alaska organized a dance with an auction last November. $14,638.24 was raised in the event. After rentals and ticket printing expenses, $12,988.43 was left for donations in the two countries. This demonstration of solidarity is proof that united people transcend borders and when there are will and heart, the impossible becomes possible.
In the case of Mexico, the money helped four families from the town of Tepetlixpa, who were in great need of housing. Each family was given supplies to build a 13 x 13 feet home. Some families were able to get the support of a mason. Latinos Unidos de Alaska donated the cost of the masons’ labor whenever the families could not afford it.
The construction material was bought in a local store, so the money also helped a small business in Tepetlixpa. On the day the jobs were quoted, the exchange rate was 17.10 pesos per dollar.
Juana Martínez received one of the donations. She says that during the earthquake she was at the market, but when she got home she saw that her house had collapsed. So she began to scream, “Where are my children?” Fortunately, everyone had managed to get out and no one lost their lives. She had made a huge effort over many years to build her house, and it was lost in a moment.
Doña Juanita Romualdo received aid as well. She lives with her daughters and sons, some of whom have their own families, and her newest granddaughter is three months old. One room makes a big difference when the family is large. Doña Juanita sends blessings to those who helped her, and wishes that their wealth multiplies. Now her family has one more room to sleep safely and warmer. Tepetlixpa is cold, especially at night, and houses do not have heating or insulation. Juanita Romualdo’s family took over the construction with the supplies donated by Latinos Unidos de Alaska.
Rosita Ávila’s family also benefited. She lives with her husband Alejandro and her two daughters, Xóchitl and Yaretzi, six and two years old. Her husband plays in a folk music group, but he works at whatever else is possible because sometimes the money he gets from playing music is not enough. Xóchitl likes to go to school and is learning reading and math. Along with a mason, Alejandro took over the construction of the new home. They are very grateful to the Alaskan community because the donation will give their daughters a better quality of life; they had been sleeping in a makeshift room of salvaged boards, plastic, and cardboard sheets.
Mrs. Cruz Tecolapa received the last aid sent to Mexico. She lives with her daughters, son, and grandchildren. At first, she was very surprised that people in Alaska would care about them. Her daughters make tortillas by hand, and sell them by the dozen or the kilo. It has been difficult to rebuild after the earthquake, so this aid has been of great impact. The money has allowed them to stand up and keep fighting.
Photos: Itzel Yarger