Mexico’s earthquake sends students into action

By in News
In the Bowl, Fuerza Mexico volunteers sell food and drinks at a BBQ for a Cause on Sept. 27.

In the last few weeks, Mexico has been hit by numerous disasters affecting the capital and its surrounding cities. The devastation has left the survivors uncertain about recovery, and many students outside of Mexico want to help.

Reports of the death toll reaching over 300 people and billions of dollars in property damage have pushed students at the University of Saskatchewan to start fundraising for the relief efforts currently underway in Mexico, by joining a coalition named Fuerza Mexico, which is a partnership of Mexican students and student groups like the Latin American Students’ Association.

María Celeste Núñez, a third-year student in environmental sciences and president of the LASA, explains the importance of student action in times of disaster, stating that the LASA was formed shortly after an earthquake that struck Ecuador in 2016.

“[LASA] decided to become an association to support every single country in case of natural disaster or celebrations,” Núñez said. “When I heard this [had] happened [in Mexico], I contacted all the Mexican students, and as the president of the LASA, I told them they had my entire support.”

Many student groups have eagerly joined Fuerza Mexico for various funding efforts, such as a screening of the film Hecho en México on Sept. 25, a barbecue on Sept. 27 and a raffle of shirts showcasing the famous Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo.

While Fuerza Mexico focuses on gathering funds for the Mexican Red Cross, Núñez emphasizes that donating is not the only way students can contribute.

“We understand that we are all students on a budget. If you cannot contribute monetarily, do it with your time. We will be hosting a lot of events, not only within the U of S but also around in the community, and we will require volunteers,” Núñez said.

Aurora Lepe, a second-year student in biotechnology, microbiology and immunology and the co-founder of Fuerza Mexico, explains that students may be unaware of how to send donations, which is why Fuerza Mexico has set up a Go Fund Me page and is promoting various funding initiatives on campus.

“[There are] a lot of ways. The only thing you have to do is Google it. Basically, what we are trying to do is to put those alternatives closer to the students,” Lepe said.

Lepe goes on to explain that although this is a disaster happening in another country, students at the U of S should still work to develop a sense of empathy for the situation and for their fellow peers, who may be struggling with the effects.

Students with family and friends in another country might not be able to communicate with loved ones to ensure their safety during a crisis, which often leads to high levels of psychological stress, Núñez explains.

“It’s really tough,” Núñez said. “I think we should be aware that we are all citizens of the world, so we can and we need to support those countries that have those [needs] in that moment.”

The next Fuerza Mexico event is Beats for Mexico, an electronic dance party featuring four DJs, including both local and Mexican artists, which will be held at 8 p.m. on Oct. 6 in Louis’ Loft. The cover fee is $5 or by donation, and all proceeds will be sent to those affected by the earthquake.

Lepe describes how she and another Mexican student felt that they had a duty to organize themselves to gather and send relief back to their home country.

“[We] were the first ones who started the idea of getting together with other Mexicans that also study in university to fundraise or [plan] whatever activity we could to help,” Lepe said. “We want to try to develop [an] awareness of  [the] suffering and that, even though we are far away, we can still help in many different ways.”

Revathi Nair

Photos: J.C. Balicanta Narag / Photo Editor