Summer 2007 - The Canadian Friend
It started with
an article in Seventeen magazine. An American high school student had spent
a summer in an American Friends Service Committee work camp in Mexico,
delivering babies and raising living standards in an impoverished village.
We also introduced fruit trees, mainly fig, because fig trees don't need a lot of water. Before the government helped these people, their only water was from the twice-a-year rains, caught in an earthen depression, and used by humans and animals alike.
Almost every morning in winter, we saw processions carrying the dead. The cemetery was behind the cottage where three of us lived with the government workers. Most of the deaths were from pneumonia and with only 2000 people living in our village, the death rate was very high.
Children 52 years ago, with work camper Kater Nelson lining them up
for play. Their clothes are rags, Few wore shoes. And few were girls.
I left after four months because of a throat infection from the dust but
the experience led me to join Toronto Monthly Meeting later. I never forgot
Ixmiquilpan which had given me so much and over the years, I often wondered
what was happening in our valley. Had we helped the Otomis? It wasn't until
recently that I was able to return.
Ruth Malloy with Lousia whom she met in Xuchitlan
We found three schools, not one, with children wearing uniforms
comparable in quality to those in Toronto. I asked about the people I knew.
I had taken pictures of them but no one recognized them. The oldest person
we found was fifty-five. She would have been three when we lived there. We
visited one house - 500 meters away. The owner drove there from the village
square in a fancy truck. The family used a stone stove even though they had
a gas stove, "because gas is too expensive". They had a refrigerator. No one
carried heavy jugs of water. I found hundreds of fig trees and lots of
fields of vegetables. There was now pride in being Otomi.
Photos By Ruth Lor Malloy
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