Mexico Earthquake Relief

March 2018 – December 2024
Last updated: April 2024

All Hands and Hearts has been rebuilding disaster-resilient schools in Mexico since 2018. Our work began in response to two devastating earthquakes that shook the country in September 2017, damaging over 5,000 schools. Its effects were intensified by Hurricane Agatha in 2022 and even further during Hurricane Otis in 2023. In July 2024, we will begin work on our 30th school rebuild in the country, restoring access to education in the community of San Bartolo, Teontepec.

Find the details about volunteering on this program here.

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Our Work

In July 2024, AHAH begins its ninth program in Mexico, rebuilding disaster-resilient schools within Mexico’s CONAFE system in Puebla. This system addresses educational needs in rural and marginalized communities. Working on two schools within the San Bartolo community, our work will include rebuilding two disaster-resilient classrooms, WASH infrastructure (including four rainwater harvesting systems), a playground and other community initiatives to ensure sustainable practices endure beyond AHAH’s involvement.

Disaster Profile

On September 7, 2017, one of the most destructive earthquakes in Mexico’s history hit close to the southern state of Chiapas with a devastating magnitude of 8.2. Just 12 days later and a few hundred miles away, a 7.1 magnitude quake rocked central Mexico, toppling buildings, breaking gas mains, knocking out electricity and sparking fires across the city and other towns in central Mexico. Damage was widespread throughout the central and southern parts of the country. AHAH has worked in Oaxaca for the last six programs, where the disaster impacted over 4,000 schools.

Further compounding the long-term impacts of the earthquakes was Hurricane Agatha, which struck the central Oaxacan coast as a Category 2 storm in May 2022. Agatha brought significant storm surges and debris flows to coastal regions before moving inland over the state, where winds, mudslides and water damaged or destroyed more homes and schools.

Program History

In the decade between 2009 and 2019, All Hands and Hearts and Happy Hearts Mexico worked alongside communities within the Mexican states of Tabasco, Veracruz, Guerrero and Jalisco to rebuild 12 schools. Each region was heavily affected by extreme earthquakes, floods and hurricanes, leaving many communities without safe spaces for students to learn and play.

Our efforts in Mexico began in March 2018, in El Jicarero, Morelos, where we partnered with Happy Hearts Fund (now All Hands and Hearts Mexico) to reconstruct the Narciso Mendoza Primary school, projected to help 400+ students over the next decade, and retrofitted classrooms at the Vicente Guerrero Primary School.

In January 2019, we began work at Celso Muñoz Primary School and September 13 Kindergarten in Oaxaca. At Celso Muñoz Primary School, we rebuilt seven classrooms, an office and library, built a playground, and provided WASH facilities, and retrofitted four classrooms. At the September 13 Kindergarten, we rebuilt and repainted the playground, rebuilt classrooms and refurbished the kindergarten’s fence.
In July 2019, we continued recovery efforts in Oaxaca, rebuilding Itzcoatl Preschool and Revolution Primary School. In addition to our work on the schools, we implemented a community Disaster Risk Reduction Training program where we worked with the community to identify disasters most likely to affect them, identified a timeline of weather patterns, and ran practical examples of risk assessments. We also reactivated a community waste management system and piloted an agricultural education program.

At Vicente Guerrero Primary School, we demolished four unsafe temporary structures; rebuilt, retrofitted and refurbished ten classrooms; rebuilt the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities; refurbished a storage room and built a new roof for the dining room. We also implemented a new drainage system for the school At Paulo Freire Secondary School, our work included the demolition of three unsafe buildings, rebuilding the office and WaSH, retrofitting and refurbishing three classrooms and building a new roof for the dining room. All of these important infrastructure improvements mean that more than 200 students can now return to their regular classes in a safe learning environment.

At Guillermo Prieto Primary School, we rebuilt, retrofitted and refurbished ten classrooms, providing a safe school for over 188 children, over the next 10 years and beyond. For each classroom, we replaced all furnishings required by students and teachers, so that every student will once again have their own desk and chair. We also rebuilt the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, including two gender-appropriate, hygienic toilet blocks.

The earthquakes severely damaged the old building, comprising four classrooms, two small rooms designed for storage, and a bathroom. As a result of being condemned and with no support or alternative solution the students’ parents took it upon themselves to build temporary learning spaces (TLSs). We provided two new disaster resilient buildings for students, with classrooms, an office, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities and a playground to support the students attending Cri Cri kindergarten.

We completed our 23, 24, and 25 schools in Mexico! The Barrio Nuevo Toltepec schools included a kindergarten, primary, and secondary schools. This was unique work for AHAH as they are part of the CONAFE system in Mexico. While the CONAFE system is adequate for rural communities, the schools’ budgets are limited, making rebuilding the 60+ schools in the Pochutla area that incurred damage from Hurricane Agatha a process that will last years.

These schools will impact over 60 students and their teachers to give students a safe place to learn and play for years to come.

AHAH’s eighth program in Mexico focused on rebuilding disaster-impacted schools within the country’s CONAFE system. Using over 11,000 volunteer hours, the team rebuilt El Llano School and Tlacostepelt School, built a new rainwater harvesting system and provided Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) facilities, impacting over 200 students, parents and teachers.
Students Impacted
Schools Completed
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