SOC employee lends a helping hand

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By Jennifer Garcia

Rural living is a way of life for some, even in this age of technology.

Getting in touch with nature and living off of the land is appealing to some, but for the Tarahumara Indians of northwest Mexico, remote living is a way of life.

The Spanish, upon their arrival in Mexico in the 1500s, first discovered the Tarahumara throughout Chihuahua. Being a shy, private people, the Tarahumara retreated to the Sierra Tarahumara, where they lived in nearly inaccessible canyons.

The only people who were even remotely successful in following them were the Jesuit missionaries.

The Tarahumaras’ uprooted themselves again when mineral wealth was discovered in the mountains where they had retreated from the Spanish. As a result, they were driven further into the remote canyons.

Today, there exist between 50,000 and 70,000 Tarahumaras, who still live under cliffs, in caves and in small stone or wood cabins in remote areas. Their way of life remains undisturbed by modern technology and remains simple.

Chimayo resident and SOC employee Rosendo Cordova and his wife make regular trips to Copper Canyon to help provide the Tarahumaras with necessities such as clothing, jackets, shoes, cooking oil, rice, beans and potatoes.

“We only take necessities,” Cordova said, “But we help out in any way we can.”

The Cordovas have been making regular trips to Mexico for the past six years. Cordova’s wife, originally from Mexico, took him to Copper Canyon where he discovered the Tarahumaras and the rural conditions in which they live.

Since then, the duo has been working with Jim and Pat Noble from the Light at Mission Viejo Church in Santa Fe to collect clothing, shoes and other necessities to take to the Tarahumaras. Cordova said that relief efforts come from his and his wife’s efforts, as well as the Church.

“We don’t have backing from anyone,” he said. In addition to the food and clothing, Cordova said that they have also helped some of the older Tarahumaras with eyeglasses.

Volunteers at the church regularly collect goods to help the needy and homeless.

“The government doesn’t acknowledge these Indians, so we decided to help them out,” Cordova said of his relief efforts.

In addition to supplying clothing and food, Cordova makes regular trips to the Los Alamos Monitor, where he collects pallets to take with him on his relief missions to Mexico.

He uses the wood from the pallets to construct bunk beds for the Tarahumara families.

“There are two to three families that live in one house,” Cordova remarked.

He also said that the Tarahumara families are very poor and earn only $2.50 to $10 for a day’s work.

The Cordovas help approximately 130 families. When they make their trip to Mexico every two to three months, Cordova said they spend about five days on the road.

“When we get there, we spend a whole day of gathering them, to tell them about the Lord,” Cordova said.