Iztapalapa, when a community comes together
Yesterday Jenny White and myself along with a super dude by the name of Antonio Cervantes (a linguist, program manager with Isla Urbna and a music lover!) made our way to Iztapalapa, one of the larger and most populated Delegaciones in DF. We arrived into the barrio just after noon, and met with Gilberto, another non profit Director working with this largely indigenous community. We were there to survey 20 households that are about to receive a rainwater harvesting system from Isla Urbana, and this is the first time they are working in this area. The heart of this community is within the local secondary school, “Escuela Secondaria Tecnica 115”. So we went from home to home, meeting the head of households, and ensuring each site will be prepared to receive the systems.
40 years ago the founders of this community came from Oaxaca hoping for work, and a better life in the big city. They staked claim on land on the hillside overlooking East DF and started to build homes. Of course the issue of water became huge, and the leaders of the community at that time had to fight big time to get the City to send the water pipas (trucks that deliver water all over the city). They spent a lot of time doing this, and most of the community adults would go down into El Centro to meet with the powers that be, talk about their situation and needs, and the work was long and hard.
With most of the adults gone, the few remaining behind to look after the children began to collectively cook meals so that when the others returned, there was a meal prepared and they would all eat together. Today, Iztapalapa still has a “Comedor Popular” (a community kitchen) where they provide low cost meals twice a day to anyone that comes. People sign in, and for 10 pesos get a delicious meal. We ate there and had sopa, mixed rice, beans and carnes. There was even a cinnamon cookie at the end!
These Comedores born in Iztapalapa have been adopted in many of DF’s delgacions. I think that the essence of the culture here in these challenged communities are responsible for such a beautiful example of social structure, very caring, organized and supporting each other. This community had tons of mojo, not only were they organizing themselves around water, but they also told us about their plans to start a torterilla that was based on using Amaranth with the corn flower instead of wheat, giving much more protein and nourishment in the torillas, brilliant!!
I want to give a personal note of thanks to the hospitality of this community, I fell quite ill in the afternoon, I was graciously taken care of, from the couch at Claudia Morelos casa, right down to the car ride home from Antonio with the Beatles playing all the way! Antonio, su coche es la casa de musica, mucho gracias!
1. View from Iztapalapa
2. Antonio Cervantes
3. Gilberto welcomes us and speaks with community leaders
5. Maria, the Queen of the Comodo Popular
6. Visiting the casas
7. From the bottom…8. To the top!
9. local dogs tell us off!
10 A typical cosina/kitchen
11. a family poses
12. lunch at the Comedor Popular
13. Maria in action
14 In Claudia’s Casa