In the wake of the earthquake in Mexico two days ago I have felt a need to do something, to be part of the human chains removing rubble, to help to people trapped and in need. There is often a huge amount of guilt in knowing that other people are suffering while you are unscathed. I think there is also a human need to be actively doing things to help after a traumatic event, it helps with the trauma, helps with the shock.
Today, while there is still much to be done, we are hearing that many sites don’t need help and that collections centers are full (although this is changing moment by moment and also may not be true beyond Mexico City). It may also be the case that helping in this way is not the best use of your skills. I felt a very strong urge to go and be on the ground helping today but I am new to Mexico City, have no mode of transport and almost no idea where to get the things that are needed (the things I could get, I took to a collection center yesterday). Therefore, I felt I needed to look again at how I could be of service.
Yesterday I wrote a piece for CNN, detailing a little of what was going on on the ground and that felt like a much better use of my skills and resources. There are many people who are not able to be out on the streets or do not have the money to donate or buy supplies, but there are still a lot of ways to help.
Here are just a few ideas but depending on your own particular skills, there are many more ideas I am sure. Feel free to share any ideas in the comments section.
- Reach out to a friend who needs support (Phone calls, texts, cups of tea, home cooked meals all help)
- Take in people whose homes are no longer secure or who feel unsafe (If this feels like a safe thing for you to do)
- Offer translation services
- Babysit the children of friends who need to care for other family members, to sort out their affairs or who want to be out helping on the ground
- Offer facilitation to help organize community relief efforts
- Offer to buy food and water supplies for an elderly neighbour
- Massage therapists could offer grounding massages for those in shock
- Therapists could offer support to those suffering from trauma
- Writers/ journalists can write clear reports of what is happening on the ground
- Architects can offer services to check buildings
- Recharge your energy and look after yourself now so that you can be of help down the line when others are tired- this is a very valid response
- Designers could offer free poster/social media post design for fundraisers or other relief efforts
- Administrators could help centralize information about different efforts happening
- Be on call 24/7 for a friend who is struggling
- Prepare information about how to deal with shock and trauma to share with your community
- Comfort your children and help them navigate their fears and emotions
- Organize fundraisers or share information about fundraisers if you have good networks
As I mentioned, these are just a few ideas but please share other ideas in the comments section.
Susannah Rigg is a freelance writer and Mexico specialist. Her work has been featured in BBC Travel, CNN Travel, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR and The Independent among others. Check out her portfolio here. Contact Susannah by email, info [at] mexicoretold [dot] com and join her on Instagram and Twitter.