Of the 94 million Mexicans, more than 20% are officially recognized as living in a state of “extreme poverty”. These 20 million forgotten citizens live mainly in 3 of the 29 States which constitute Mexico: Oaxaca, Chiapas and Guerrero. It is in the State of Oaxaca (pronounce Wahaka) where La Casa works. According to certain Mexican newspapers, the percentage of extreme poverty
in this area is around 50%…

The harvest only allows the families
to nourish itself during a few months.

1. Local economy

The area is particularly poor : apart from a little tourism along the coast and in some villages, and fishing, there are no other economic resources. A monthly wage of 250 euros is considered a good wage. The ground produces almost nothing. Agricultural activity mostly focuses on small family farms growing corn and some tropical fruits, mainly during the rainy season. Malnutrition (no variety in available food) and the lack of hygiene are serious problems. Malaria and dysentery are common as well. And then we still haven’t said a word about alcoholism and drug use.

The teaching is often rudimentary, there is
no modern educational material.

2. Illiteracy

Needless to say that among the adults older than 40 years, illiteracy is widespread, which puts the parents in an impossible
situation when trying to help their children in their schoolwork. Those, in addition, are often rudimentary (no educational material) and many children give up their education after primary school. Statistics from 2000 show that, among the 15-year olds in the state of Oaxaca, 21,5% have not had any formal instruction, and 45,1% did not complete their primary school.

consists of one room made of cement
and one kitchen made of wood.

3. Housing

To promote tourism and attract foreign visitors, the authorities were forced to improve the infrastructure of some coastal areas. While the villages of the interior remain undeveloped, houses consisting of one rudimentary room constructed out of cement donated by the government after the hurricane in 1997 destroyed many houses. Kitchen are made out of wood, covered with palmtree roofs or corrugated cardboard covered with asphalt . From the age of 14-15, the inhabitants work for low wages (around 55 euros per week for 7 days work) in small hotels and restaurants, and spend 20 to 30 % of their wages in travel expenses. The population is primarily Indian and it is not uncommon in the interior villages, to encounter old people who hardly know Spanish and speak only zapotec.