Austinites step up to help Mexico after earthquakes

Maria Mendez

Staying true to its “We are all Mexico” mural, Austin Mexic-Arte Museum sent donations on Monday to survivors of Mexico’s earthquakes.

Three major earthquakes and various aftershocks have shaken central and southern Mexico in the last month, moving Austin residents and UT students to seek ways to send help across the border.

The local Mexic-Arte Museum collected donations to be shipped without cost to Mexico City, which was struck by a 7.1-magnitude earthquake last Tuesday. The weekend donation drive of medical supplies, nonperishable food and clothes was organized by Sara Palma, a Mexic-Arte graphic designer from Mexico City.

“When I saw the news I (felt) horrible,” Palma said. “All my family are in Mexico City. I just kept feeling like I need to do something.”

The recent earthquake occurred on the 32nd anniversary of an 8.0-magnitude earthquake that struck Mexico City in 1985. Palma lived through the 1985 earthquake and said the damage from Tuesday’s earthquake was not as severe, but still toppled many buildings, including homes in her past neighborhoods of La Condesa and Roma.

“For me, it’s very important to help my Mexico City, my people,” Palma said. “Some of them don’t have anything right now. They lost everything. That’s why I feel like I need to create this movement to help Mexico.”

Mexic-Arte also collaborated with other local businesses. Designers and photographers made portraits of donors in front of the museum’s “We are all Mexico” mural Sunday. Local food truck Churro Co. donated all of its earnings on Saturday to affected communities in Mexico.

Palma said people have been eager to help Mexico, even through small efforts.

“This is a good movement to help these people,” Palma said. “Maybe it’s not really huge, but it’s something and means something for those people.”

Following a similar urge to help her home country, finance junior Alejandra Chavira held a bake sale Friday to fundraise for the post-earthquake rescue brigade called Los Topos.

“I have a lot of family in south and central Mexico, many of which were affected by the earthquake,” Chavira said. “Instead of sitting around watching videos about it, I feel like this is a better way to channel my feelings about the events.”

Chavira sold Mexican pastries, horchata and aguas frescas with her friends in the UT Sailing Club. Mexicans left homeless by the major earthquakes and numerous aftershocks will need help rebuilding in the following weeks, Chavira said.

“(For) a lot of people with limited resources, their homes have been destroyed,” Chavira said. “So it’s a situation that requires a lot of cooperation and unity from Mexicans, whether in the country or outside of the country like us.”

Management senior Swietenia Palacios said she and her friends were looking to donate to nonprofits for earthquake relief. Austin’s Mexican Consulate suggests donating to the Red Cross.

Palacios said the UT community and Mexico have close ties, including study abroad programs in Mexico City.

“There are so many students from Mexico at UT … they’re Longhorns,” Palacios said. “And they are hurting and worried, as we should be too, in solidarity.”