Earthquake: community reconstruction and strengthening

Community Reconstruction and Strengthening: two actions implemented by Save the Children and the C&A Foundation just over a year after September 19, 2017 

Adriana lives with her three children in a community near Tetela del Volcán, to the west of Morelos. On the afternoon of September 19, 2017, her home became one of the buildings that collapsed or received structural damage making them uninhabitable: “That day, the little house where I lived with my three children came tumbling down. After the earthquake, my brother lent me his kitchen to live in with my children, and he had to build an additional room with plywood. For a long time, I was sad, thinking about where I would live with my children in dignity,” she remembers.  

She was not the only one to lose her home in that area, as nearby towns such as Tlalmimilulpan, Jumiltepec and Ocuituco were also hit by the earthquake. In Ocuituco, Gustavo and his family also had to leave their home: “Thank God we weren't at home. When we returned, we found it broken up. We had no other choice but to leave for the safety of my wife and my child. We built a room out of pallets in my mother’s house, and we tried to insulate it with nylon, cardboard and some plywood that we had so that the cold couldn’t get in. It is a very ugly thing to see how everything you had is destroyed in a second,” he said.  

Fortunately, families like those of Gustavo and Adriana received assistance from Save The Children and its ally, the C&A Foundation, which donated half a million euros for immediate actions, and an additional half a million for reconstruction work in States such as Morelos, Oaxaca and Puebla. These actions focused on creating new homes for 15 families, who will soon receive their new quake-proof houses. 

Israel is a leader in community mobilization for Save The Children in Morelos and has been overseeing the reconstruction process. Israel has noted that this process focuses not only on the creation of new homes, but also on supporting families who have lost everything: “Not only are we building houses, but we are also providing support to empower families. That is why we have come up with some ways to help support or resolve the situations faced with guidance from Save The Children,” he said. He and other volunteers spent time with approximately 60 families of victims, awarding reconstruction to 15 of them after applying several filters created to give those in greatest need a chance to start again. 

Some of the actions by Save The Children to empower families include DIY construction workshops and the creation of comandas: organizational structures in which the families provide meals for the workers and are reimbursed by the organization. That led to the creation of a system that benefits everyone and integrates the workers into their community.  

The workshops given by the social organization reviewed concepts that help prevent other accidents and provide the tools to overcome them. Those attending the workshops agreed to share the information so that more people learn about these concepts. In addition, the facilitators have helped reinforce the psychological and social support for boys, girls and teenagers, helping them overcome the situation they have lived through. 

It won't be long now until Adriana, Gustavo and other families who were victims of the 2017 earthquake can rebuild their lives in their new houses, and they are very excited to have a place of their own again, to live in dignity: “There’s still almost a month until we will have a house again. It took nearly a year to have it again, but I thank God that we have another chance,” said Adriana.  

Thanks to the actions of Save The Children, with the support of the C&A Foundation, 94,325 people (including 38,159 boys, girls and teenagers from Oaxaca, Puebla and Morelos) benefited immediately, and now another 15 families will once again have a home to live in. 

“Since 2015, the C&A Foundation has allied with Save the Children to support them in saving lives, providing safe spaces for children and developing resilience in urban communities, especially in the garment-producing countries where we operate. We are proud to have provided backing in response to over 35 emergencies, and we hope to continue these successes through our collaboration in the coming years," said Executive Director of C&A Foundation, Leslie Johnston. 

Morelos, Mexico