On September 7th, 2017, an 8.1 magnitude earthquake hit off the coast of Mexico; less than two weeks later, on September 19, another earthquake hit the country, with a magnitude of 7.1. These two disasters devastated large parts of the states of Puebla and Morelos, as well as parts of the Mexico City Area. With the support of the PepsiCo Foundation, PADF identified the highly vulnerable community of Xoxocotla, Morelos, where rebuilding local infrastructure was not only necessary but would provide opportunities for local inhabitants, many of them indigenous, to interact and share in local traditions.
Community members have been actively engaged in the reconstruction process; through a participatory approach, PADF worked diligently to coordinate with new authorities and citizens for this project for the design and upgrading for the project. The center was designed with community input to include soccer fields, areas for trainings, a multipurpose room and a track for youth and adults to be able to exercise. In addition to the many social and cultural benefits the community center will provide, it has had direct economic impacts on the lives of many community members. Among these is Vicente, a 27-year old construction worker who lives in Xoxocotla with his wife, a member of the indigenous community. Due to the lack of employment opportunities in Xoxocotla, in recent years he has had to travel to other states to find work, remaining away from his family for extended periods of time.
Vicente was trained in the production of Compressed Earth Blocks, an innovative and environmentally friendly construction material PADF employed in rebuilding the community center. The use of this building material was made possible thanks to a donation of a brick-making machine by the Embassy of Italy, as well as soil and structural soundness evaluations completed by university partners. Thanks to this experience, Vicente has stable employment in his community, allowing him to be more present for his family. He and his coworkers produced more than 14,000 Compressed Earth Blocks for the reconstruction process.
In a recent conversation with the PADF project team, Vicente noted: “Nobody was paying attention to Xoxocotla, nor had we received support from any foundations, so we are extremely thankful for PADF and we hope you will continue supporting us”. He also mentioned that his family, including his children, are looking forward to the completion of the community center as they will finally have a safe space for recreational activities. Vicente and his wife will also continue to benefit from the community center once it is completed, as it will offer trainings in key skills – including technology – and job placement support.