Arpan Lobo @ArpanLobo
When Tere Avila moved from Holland to Santiago de Quer�taro, Mexico, in January 2019, she found that hiking trails in the nearby Sierra Gorda biosphere reserve offered unique and scenic paths to explore.
“I love nature and I love animals, and I cannot stay still,” Avila said. “I started hiking the Sierra Gorda, it’s a beautiful place.
“It’s a very biodiverse area. There’s a lot of different scenery, there’s desert, there’s forest. It’s very, very different. It’s the biggest biosphere reserve in Mexico. There’s so much to do.”
Along the hiking trails, which can stretch for miles, Avila was introduced to small, rural communities, which she described as being in “the middle of nowhere.”
Food accessibility can be scarce in these remote areas, where many live in poverty. When the Sierra Gorda was closed to outsiders in light of the coronavirus pandemic, the lack of food accessibility was only made more jarring.
It was because of this that Avila decided to do what she could to raise money to purchase food for these families.
Avila and Octavio Rodriguez, a trail guide who also hikes the region, launched the Feeding Isolated Families campaign. The fundraiser aims to raise $8,400 to purchase monthly food supplies to donate to isolated families.
The campaign is an “all-or-nothing” campaign, meaning that if Avila cannot raise the $8,400 by June 1, the funds will return to donors.
So far, donors have pledged over $3,000. Avila also purchased supplies for 25 meal boxes to kick the campaign off. She believes the all-or-nothing aspect of the campaign will drive her and her supporters to meet their goals.
“We are very committed,” she said. “I’ve been running like a chicken with my head cut off. I’m calling everyone I know, sending emails, posting on social media and I’m not even a social media type of person.
“I believe in this so much, I already purchased 25 pantries for people to distribute.”
Avila said that because Santiago de Quer�taro and Holland are sister cities, she thought residents might be encouraged to help families along the Sierra Gorda.
“We really need the help,” she said. “I know everyone needs help right now, but the things I’ve seen over here I haven’t seen anywhere else.”
Avila and others have begun distributing the meal kits she purchased. She said that she is trying to meet the needs of individual families as a way to make sure that are properly nourished.
“I wanted to know which communities and families and how many family members we’d be helping,” she said. “It also lets us know how to help them, for example, if they don’t have any children I’m not going to give them dry milk. We want to give them food that will nourish them and sustain them for at least a month.”
Additionally, non-food items are needed by families. Avila said she received a donation of 3500 matchboxes, which will help families prepare the donated food.
“The most isolated people do not have gas or electric stoves so they rely on firewood,” she said.
She added that since many of her friends and family still live in the U.S., they’ve been helping by raising awareness and donating when they can. She said her youngest son JP, a 2015 graduate of Holland Christian High School, has been especially helpful.
Avila hopes that she can garner as much support for the cause as she can.
“I know in the U.S. it’s very difficult for many people right now,” she said. “But I think in the U.S. they’re able to receive more help from the government or their neighbors, but here it’s very difficult to get help from the government or their neighbors while they’re so far away.”
Donations to the campaign can be made at startsomegood.com/feeding-isolated-communities-sierra-gorda-mexico. If the campaign’s $8,400 goal is not met, pledged money is not taken from the donors.
— Contact reporter Arpan Lobo at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @arpanlobo.