Catastrophe, Puppets and Convivencia

Last week, Hurricanes Manuel and Ingrid swept both coasts of Mexico. Currently, the death toll for flooding and landslides has passed 130. The storm also displaced thousands, swept away entire communities and caused unprecedented damage to the roads and infrastructure here in Mexico. A huge portion of the country is trying to move on from what was the biggest natural disaster in half a century. Here are some images of the storm.

One way to respond to the humanitarian crisis brought upon by Hurricanes Ingrid and Manuel in the last couple of weeks was to begin to gather resources– food, water, clothing, blankets, toys, etc. for the those in need. Here at the Casa, we have begun collecting donated items to distribute directly to hurricane victims. One of the Casa’s former directors, Jill, was also directly impacted by the storm. While doing research in Guerrero, she got trapped in a Santo Domingo, a small community along the Río Balsas, and was unable to make it back to Mexico City for a week, as all transportation was halted. (Here is an article about the storm hitting that community). Fortunately, with the help of a disaster relief team and a jet ski, she was able to make it back home on Saturday. To add some comic relief to the week’s stress and hardship, her daughter Agnita staged a puppet show to narrate the week’s events, in which the happy ending was Jill making it home for Agnita’s 6th birthday party.


“Never before seen or rehearsed,” the puppet show was a big hit, captivating the 25-odd kids in what was preceded by an under-five-minute puppet performance of the Wizard of Oz. The gathering was just one of this weeks many examples of “convivencia” or time spent together. More and more, convivencia has become a routine that shapes the rhythms and motions of my days here. Not even had we cleared the table for the potluck we hosted for Tochan volunteers yesterday when we were setting the table for the morning breakfast. Rotating between being the host and the guest is a constant cycle that nourishes and invigorates our spirit, our work, and our purpose in this community. It can also be exhausting, as the dynamics of collective decision-making, reflection, and convivencia are met with challenges of every kind. Still, the constant effort is so worthwhile.