Using Multimedia to assist Rural Communities in Chiapas, Mexico



On past projects I've worked mostly in the fields--building soil, planting trees, designing gardens.  However, there isn't a very high demand for such work here in Chiapas, where the majority already practice their own subsistence agriculture, and physical laborers can be hired for 80 pesos a day ($4.5 USD).  Instead, Omero Guillen Villatoro, agricultural engineer and renowned leader of community development projects, has recruited me to make videos.  Promoting tourism and raising awareness has been my focus, the most productive use of my time here, according to Omero's vision and the circumstances of rural Chiapas.

So, I borrowed a Sony camera from Omero to take video, along with my cell phone to capture audio (audio from the Sony camera is ruined by the noises of auto-focus) and Wondershare Filmora on my laptop to synch the two and edit.  Along with fellow volunteers, French couple Noemi and Ian, we set out to local communities to document various subjects.



Promoting eco-tourism  (Video)
This video depicts the "campesino" lifestyle of rural Chiapas, presented by Jaime Lopez-Perez and his family.  It lists the tours and courses they offer to potential visitors, on themes like cooking, crafting, farming, foraging edible and medicinal plants and hikes of nearby mountains, caves and jungles.  The purpose of the video is to attract tourists to the community.

In turn, economic gain would be the purpose of attracting tourists, who would pay the families for the tours and also purchase their produce and crafts.  (For example, Noemi and Ian each purchased a handmade basket for $40 pesos each, or $2.2 USD.)   Another purpose of inviting tourists would be to build cultural awareness.  While they live happily according to Jaime, they are also quite poor by western standards,* feeling underappreciated and underpaid considering how hard they work.  Therefore, sharing their lifestyle through tours would help raise awareness and appreciation from society at large, which could in turn realize practical benefits such as greater demand for their products or conservation of their ecosystems.  

*Of the 1119 residents of the nearby community of Ojo de Agua, 69.7% are officially unemployed and 12.15% are illiterate.  Of the the 241 households, 10.04% have vehicles, 7.53% have refrigerators, and 0% have internet.[1]


Promoting eco-tourism (Map)
I made the map below for the same end objectives as the video above: to promote tourism to the area.  Recreation sites like lakes, waterfalls and hikes, as well as services like restaurants and hotels are all marked on the map.  Sharing the map with tourists helps them enjoy their visit, or encourage them to make one in the first place.  We can also use the map to promote businesses of our choosing, ones that benefit the local community rather than foreign investors.  [See how this dichotomy affects communities in Salento, Colombia, and what locals are doing about it.]



[See my Guide: How to create Google MyMaps.]

Promoting community events
[video coming soon]
This video features the commissioners of Ojo de Agua discussing their annual events: a fishing tournament and a marathon (April 7-9th, 2018).  Their purpose is to promote the events and invite more participants.  The events themselves help promote the community as a destination, inviting economic activity.  They also draw attention to the venue, Las Penitas Ecotourism Center, a year-round destination in itself, with its camping and picnic sites surrounded by beautiful lakes and cenotes (deep pits full of crystal clear water).

Requesting government assistance
The video below depicts the community building a road to the remote settlement of the Lopez-Perez family.  The road would allow the family to better deliver their products to market, receive materials and labor, and invite tourists. 

The purpose of the video, specifically, is to demonstrate the efforts to the government and petition them for financial and technical support.  According to Jaime and Umberto, local road-builder, Government agencies are more likely to grant assistance if the efforts are documented with photos and videos.  Apparently that's how it works here in Chiapas.



[1] "Ojo de Agua," PueblosAmerica.com

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