Melel Xojobal shared that 96 percent of vulnerable children in San Cristóbal de Las Casas are concerned about running out of food and money in the face of the coronavirus pandemic. 67 percent of working children fear being out of a job.
The Melel Xojobal Organization , in the Tsotsil language meaning True Light, was founded in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in February 1997. They work with indigenous girls, boys, and youth in the state of Chiapas to promote, defend, and exercise their rights to through participatory processes to improve their quality of life.
Melel Xojobal carried out the query How do children and adolescents of San Cristóbal de las Casas live, the coronavirus pandemic ?, this with the aim of knowing the experiences and opinions of the actors involved, as well as knowing the effects it has had the pandemic in economic, work, school and emotional conditions.
Therefore, they asked girls, boys and adolescents from 8 to 17 years old, tsotsiles, tseltales and mestizos who work, study and participate or are relatives of participants in the organization, Sueñitos and Tierra Roja Cuxtitali, through a questionnaire applied by telephone interviews due to the gap in internet access to answer online.
The result of the consultation yielded the following data, the participants were 50% men and the rest women, being sex an equitable item; The ages were divided into two categories, from 8 to 11 years old they were worth 53 percent, while 47% were between 12 to 17 years old. Likewise, 75% of the participants are indigenous language speakers.
In addition, 41 percent of households are single-parent, headed by women; on average families are made up of 6 individuals. However, on the issue of water disposal, 4 out of 10 households consider that the water is insufficient to wash their hands regularly, as indicated by the prevention measure by Covid-19.
It should be noted that the query, showed the following data 38 percent of girls, boys and adolescents work. On the other hand, 88% of families are concerned that some member of the family cannot stay at home because they have to go to work, which is another preventive measure.
In the educational field, they indicate that 95 percent study elementary, middle and high school, but families are concerned that some of their children may not continue studying any of the educational levels.
In addition, in access to technologies and connectivity, the data showed that 70% have access to cell phones, followed by 18% with a computer, 92 percent have television and only 19% have internet. In the case of indigenous households, they have less possession of cell phones and computers than non-indigenous households.
Girls and boys with the coronavirus issue said that 70% know about it, the rest mention that they know little or nothing about the disease. Women from indigenous households under 12 years of age or from single-parent households are the ones who are unaware of the coronavirus in a greater proportion.
“I think a lot of people are dying, that it doesn’t matter how old we are,” said 9-year-old Amelia.
74 percent shared that the possibility of getting it is easy, while 20% say it is difficult, the rest have doubts about this. In two-parent households, they perceive that it is difficult to get the coronavirus.
“Something like a contagious disease that many say is or is not, that it exists or not, that there is no cure, but it is not seen. They say we can all have it, but they won’t realize it, maybe I have it, but I don’t know and it doesn’t feel good, ”said Alberto, 15 years old.
Finally, about the existence of the disease 74 percent say that it exists, on the other hand, 18 percent mention that it is not, the rest have doubts about the existence of the disease.
“I feel that social networks are not valid in their entirety. I only take into account the precautions mentioned by the secretary of health, to avoid getting infected, “said 17-year-old Santiago.
It is important to mention that the high levels of poverty and malnutrition in indigenous and rural areas, as well as the precarious access to health services, and the scarcity of water intakes, in some places, place the indigenous population of Chiapas in a situation of greater vulnerability to face the Covid-19 pandemic.
The above, added to the lack of access to information that explains, in the native languages of indigenous communities, what this new disease is like, how it is developing, what impacts it is having, what are the measures that governments implement to face it, what alternatives do people have, how to care for the sick at home and what are other indigenous peoples in the world doing.