August 9, 2021, Today is International Day of Indigenous Peoples, and we recognize the importance of indigenous peoples’ inclusion in a system with social and economic benefits for all.
We believe that marginalized people have a right to not only adequate nutrition, but also to preserve their culture, including their languages. As an example, since 2006 we have provided food to the community of Misión Chichimeca. A severely poor indigenous community, it is the last native Chichimeca settlement in the country.
At their bilingual school, Majurrú, the textbooks are in two languages: Chichimeca and Spanish. However, there is no middle school in Misión Chichimeca, which means most of these children will not study beyond elementary school. Although outside of the San Miguel de Allende municipality, our organization supports this community because the poverty there is overwhelming. Before we opened a school kitchen there, children sometimes lost consciousness during classes because they were so hungry. The school meals help them remain alert and able to learn, in turn helping to preserve the use of their indigenous language.
These people were relocated by the government to an area with depleted soils; land so poor it only yields crops once a year, unlike other areas around SMA that can yield two crops a year because of good quality soil and lower elevation.
The houses are built with rocks, a few bricks, and elements of their surroundings, such as dried maguey leaves. The kitchens at the homes are mostly coal-powered. When it rains or gets cold, the conditions can be extremely harsh. Water has to be delivered by truck, and paid for by the residents.
The families make their income mostly from the sale of nopales and tunas (cactus fruit) and whatever vegetables they can grow in their small
plots of land. Sadly, these are reserved for sale and hardly, if ever, cooked to be consumed at home. The families mostly subsist on tortillas, rice, and beans.
Indigenous peoples are nearly three times as likely to be living in extreme poverty compared to their non-indigenous counterparts. Prior to the closing of schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic, FTH provided hot, nutritious meals at our school kitchen; now we deliver critical food supplies every two weeks to feed entire families. We intend to continue supporting this community for as long as it is necessary and to improve the lives of these children and their families in any way possible.