This is Alex. He’s four years old, and a little shy unless he has a tostada in his hands — in which case, he goes all in for the toasted goodness. He’s also one of the hundreds who were displaced from the hill communities of Morelos, Mexico after the 2017 Puebla earthquake which left many living in poverty.
Striking on September 19 at 1:15 pm, the Puebla earthquake was a 7.1 magnitude, resulting in more than 300 deaths, 6,000 injuries, and the collapse of more than 250 buildings. One of those buildings was Alex’s home.
After his home was declared unsafe to live due to boulders falling from the hills overhead, Alex has been living in a temporary community with his family for almost two years. As one of the most seismically active regions in the world, the temporary community where they live only continues to grow, and like most temporary communities, there’s a shortage of appropriate shelter, supplies, and greater risk for the spread of illnesses.
The basketball court pictured above is one of the places families took refuge in this area when they were forced to abandon their homes on the hillsides.
Despite the beautiful countryside — including mountains and a surrounding lush valley — it is a dangerous place to live, and families here need an exceptionally safe and stable home to withstand the possibility of earthquakes. In this particular region, earthquakes can happen up to 40 times per day.
Sadly, most of these families have only ever lived in homes that they could piece together with scrap metal and wood, and this has been especially true since the earthquake devastated the region. And with the imminent threat of more earthquakes every day, the houses — or the situation living in poverty— isn’t ideal for helping Alex grow up to be the best he can be.
Last year, we visited Alex, then 3 years old, and took these photos of him, standing in front of the abandoned buildings and tents where his family currently find shelter. Recently, we revisited the family to find out Alex is the new community soccer star. In fact, he gave the New Story team a run for their money when we played a game!
Soccer skills aside, Alex’s story shows the problems of living in poverty and all its frustrating complexity. New Story was on the ground in Alex’s hometown building homes for the community only months after the earthquake, and they were recently completed this year with all of the safety protections and resources needed to help this community get back on its feet and withstand future threats.
But since completion, the government has delayed installing water and electric services for the community, keeping the families like Alex’s from moving into their new, safe homes.
Overall, working with the local government is by far the most effective route for ensuring the long term health of a community, but it also requires maneuvering the political atmosphere of the areas where we work. We are paying attention to several factors, including changes in regime, financial problems, and political interests. Any of these factors — or a combination of these factors — can delay the help families so desperately need.
So, how can you help us end global homelessness?
Until the government moves forward, Alex continues to live in a tent. But that doesn’t mean we’re stopping the fight to get him and his family moved into a safe, reliable home.
Over 385 million children are living in poverty around the world, and they’re twice as likely than adults to live in extreme poverty. With your help, we can help decrease that number by building more safe and reliable homes in disaster-stricken areas. We must call on governments to support policies that benefit their future generations. And we must continue working hard to build safe, stable homes, one family at a time. So families and children like Alex can look forward to a brighter, more opportunity filled future. We’d love to have you be a part of the journey.
To do that, you can donate to New Story, learn more about the families we help and the areas we work in, or stay up to date with the innovative technology we use to give families like Alex a forever home.