Health and Life in Mexico
Despite great development gains in recent years, over 49 million Mexicans continue to live in poverty according to the US embassy in Mexico. Of those, at least 10.5% live in extreme poverty (less than $1.25 per day). In many cases, poor rural farmers migrate with their families to large cities in search of work and become squatters on the outskirts of town. Using cardboard, scrap metal and old wood, they build small shacks on pieces of undesirable property. Such is the case in many communities in Oaxaca.
Oaxaca is one of the 31 states, along with the Federal District that make up Mexico. It is located in the southern part of the country, bordering Puebla, Guerrero, Veracruz and Chiapas. It is the fifth largest state in the country.
Oaxaca City is located about 500 km south of Mexico City in a beautiful valley surrounded by the Sierra Mountains. Oaxaca has a rich culture of music, art, colonial museums, temples and archaeological zones. The state of Oaxaca has a population of approximately 3.8 million as well as the largest indigenous population in the country - about 1.8 million or 48%. It is home to 16 ethnic groups. The incidence of extreme poverty in 2002 was 4.5 times higher in predominantly indigenous than in non-indigenous municipalities. Moreover, Oaxaca is the second most economically marginalized state in Mexico.
31.8% of children 5 and under in Oaxaca suffer from mild malnutrition, 8% suffer from moderate malnutrition, and 1.9% suffer from severe malnutrition. Moreover, 38% of Oaxaca households live in food poverty, meaning they do not have enough food to meet the energy and nutrient needs of all of their members. This statistic is the third highest in the country, after Chiapas and Guerrero.
Medical Teams International began working in Mexico in 1985 following a devastating earthquake in Mexico City.
Since 1985, MTI has trained and empowered local volunteers to provide tutoring assistance to children, operate schools, lead Bible clubs, build improved latrines and ventilated stoves, and provide important education and assistance to tens of thousands of families from marginalized communities around Mexico City and the State of Oaxaca. MTI has also deployed more than 700 volunteer teams to Mexico in partnership with Manos de Ayuda and Manos de Vida to assist some of the poorest communities by providing medical and dental services, training to volunteer health promoters, and building concrete floors and chicken coops.
MTI Partner in Mexico
In 2008, Medical Teams International began to transition out of Mexico in order to focus its resources on needier countries. MTI invited AMEXTRA (the Mexican Association for Rural and Urban Transformation) into a partnership primarily due to its Christian based methodology and its focus on community participation and project sustainability. Moreover, AMEXTRA inspired a lot of confidence due to its 25 years of experience implementing community transformation projects, working in partnerships with International NGOs and participating in International networks.
AMEXTRA (www.amextra.org) is a Mexican non-profit organization, which has been operating its own community development projects and continuous service to marginalized communities in Mexico since 1984. It has served over 150,000 people from 325 different communities in 10 states as well as Mexico City, through education, health and nutrition, income generation, emergency relief and environmental sustainability projects. Amextra firmly believes in the idea that a transformational philosophy, “Change your way of thinking in order to change your way of living,” and a participatory methodology are indispensable for the improvement of poverty in Mexico. Amextra enables people to value themselves as agents of their own transformation by empowering them to recognize their talents and resources, so that they recover their self-esteem in the process of family and community change.
AMEXTRA successfully took over the management of projects and activities at the Tultitlan community center in 2008 and continues to this day. AMEXTRA also took over the community health program in Oaxaca in 2011, expanding into new communities, building a peace education component, and achieving community participation and nutrition improvement for children 5 and under.
Volunteer teams: Medical Teams International will send two work teams to the Oaxaca Central Valley communities in partnership with AMEXTRA.
Volunteers should familiarize themselves with the security situation in Mexico by researching various websites: the Overseas Security Advisory Counsil - http://www.osac.gov, the U.S. Department of State - http://travel.state.gov, Australia’s Smart Traveler’s website - http://smarttraveler.gov.au and the United Kingdom’s Foreign and Common wealth Office website - http://smarttraveler.gov.au. Volunteers should enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program – STEP (https://step.state.gov) or at the website for the country of their citizenship in order to be assisted if services are required.
 Population 2010 - http://www.inegi.org.mx/sistemas/mexicocifras/default.aspx?ent=20
 2008, Comisión Nacional para el Desarrollo de los Pueblos Indígenas. See p. 13 http://www.cdi.gob.mx/index.php?option=com_docman&task=doc_details&Itemid=&gid=111
 Nacional Survey of Feeding and Nutrition, 2005. http://www.nutricionenmexico.org.mx/encuestas/enal_2005_oax.pdf.
 2010, Global Agricultural Information Network (GAIN) http://gain.fas.usda.gov/Recent%20GAIN%20Publications/Food%20Security%20and%20Nutrition%20in%20Mexico_Mexico_Mexico_7-9-2010.pdf