Two weeks ago, Corazón sent out an email introducing the culture of Cerro Azul - describing how their community has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic since March 2020 up till now. To achieve this, Corazón sent out an anonymous community survey to each of our six communities.
This week, we focus on Cañon Carretas (CC), a community located in Tijuana, Mexico. Families from Cañon Carretas share a note with our donors, indicating that their work ethic significantly characterizes their lifestyle and community. Income decreased due to the pandemic - largely affecting merchants in our CC community who may not have been able to afford PPE purchases (Personal Protective Equipment).
A majority of participants from the CC community survey identified as students. Already faced with unique challenges, the students of CC share that unemployment, loss in the family, and financial stress negatively affected their mental health and their access to education. In response to their needs, Corazón is currently fundraising for our Spring 2021 Plea, which will help students with financial costs related to their education. In addition to this, Corazón will be collaborating with mental health professionals to provide workshops for our communities.
Once again, we would like to point out that responses to this survey may have been affected by access to the internet and electronic devices.
To help introduce and describe the culture of Cañon Carretas is a committee member from the community.
About Cañon Carretas: A Note from the Community
The majority of the families living in Cañon Carretas are from the Southern region of Mexico. Many families moved here so that they might have better job opportunities or a better way of living. What characterizes this community is that our children seek ways to study and move forward. Parents do not conform to what they have but instead make a significant effort to improve their family’s lifestyle and community. The people of Canon Carretas are hard-working, very united, and enjoy living together. They enjoy celebrating holidays like Dia de Los Ninos and of course posadas in December! (Posada: a nine-day Christmas festivity celebrated between December 16th to the 24th in Mexico)
61.5% of the families in Cañon Carretas shared that their 2020 income had decreased compared to their income from 2019 (before the pandemic).
Figure 1. Displays income for the participants in 2020.
Community members shared that they became unemployed due to the pandemic or received fewer working hours, meaning their income decreased. By this time last year, thousands of maquiladoras, or factories, were reopened in Baja California despite rising COVID-19 outbreaks (Wattenbarger, 2020). Factory reopenings were largely due to outside pressures from the U.S. (Wattenbarger, 2020), affecting workers who shared that factories were not providing adequate resources to help protect them from the virus. Specifically for members of Cañon Carretas, restrictions on merchants affected them the most.
Figure 2. The chart depicts the different occupations Cañon Carretas community members were employed in.
Members of the Cañon Carretas community indicated that they worked as merchants or sell goods. According to Telemundo 20, the Federal Commission for Protection against Health Risks (COEPRIS) shut down any merchants who attempted to sell and register goods without following COVID-19 safety protocols (Zavala, 2020). But PPE, cleaning products, and hand sanitizer are extra costs that weren’t being covered by the government, possibly making it difficult for merchants to afford continuing business. These additional costs very well could have been the case for many of the Corazón members who were working as merchants for income in 2020.
Community members shared that they wanted to move forward with their jobs despite the difficult circumstances. They also expressed how the pandemic had affected their feelings throughout the past year.
“Me siento mal, ya que no me gustó lo que viví el año pasado y tampoco me gusto como lo viví.”
“I feel bad since I didn't like what I experienced last year, and I don't like the way I lived it either.”- Cañon Carretas, community member
There were many aspects of the pandemic that could have contributed to feelings of anxiety, stress, and sadness in 2020. We created a space in our survey for community members to share what events may have contributed to this if applied to them, and most importantly if they were comfortable sharing.
One community member shared that their father had passed away because of COVID-19 and that missing their father was the main reason for the pain they felt in 2020. “Al pensar en mi papá” thinking of my dad is what prohibited [me] from feeling hopeful last year.” A time of grief over the loss of their father also became a time of financial worry - the community member was a part-time student who had recently lost their job because of the pandemic.
Corazón students are resilient, but it is essential to realize that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented them with another unique set of challenges - that students have shared - has affected their mental health. According to a study that focused on social isolation and its effects on education in Mexico, online education was more demanding than in-person instruction. It lacked proper communication because of access to technology and because sudden changes to distance learning caused significant stress for students(Vázquez et al., 2020).
Figure 3. Presents self-reported answers in regards to feelings of stress.
38.5% of community members from Cañon Carretas shared that they felt more stress, all of which were students in a university. Corazón donors responded early this year by donating to our Scholarship Program through newsletters and virtual fundraisers. Recall that Corazón’s most recent fundraising efforts focus on raising scholarship funds to help alleviate stress-related to school fees (Figure 4).
Figure 4. Presents funds raised for scholarships through Corazón’s 2021 Spring Plea (As of June 8th, 2021).
Funds raised through Corazón’s 2021 Spring Plea will be used to help students pay fees related to their education.
Corazón distributed a total of $7,812 MXN to Cañon Carretas community members who requested aid in 2020. In addition to providing financial assistance, Corazón is currently collaborating with mental health professionals to create wellness workshops for our communities.
Cañon Carretas chose to reflect on their meaning of family and the importance of also caring for themselves. Again, with their permission, we share some of their responses with you today.
Q: We may be afraid to feel hopeful at times, but the hope of seeing better days for ourselves or our families can be a force that helps us to continue living during difficult times. What brought you hope this year (2021), or what may be your hope?
A: My hope this year is for my family to continue being healthy. For school, my goal is to finish my studies and to improve my life doing so.
A: My hope is for everything to return to the way it was, back to normal.
Q: Do you feel like you learned something new about yourself this past year? Do you feel a difference between the “you” of last year compared to the “you” of right now?
A: I learned how to understand myself more and reflected on unnecessary things I did before.
A: Recently, work has been taking up almost every hour of every day because of the pandemic. As a result, I learned that I needed more time for myself so that I wouldn’t be stressed every day.
A: Yes, I think I better understand that there is nothing more important than family.
This concludes our 2020-21 COVID-19 Impact story on Cañon Carretas. Please look out for our social media where we will be sharing posts about the community.
In the coming weeks, we will be covering the Cumbres community. Please look forward to our story then.
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