Letter from our Founder & CEO

Contingency & chance, the handiwork of God

I can imagine some people who land on this website thinking, "What, another charity? Don't we have enough of them, already yet?" My retort is simple: We'll have enough of them when all the starving people are fed, the homeless are housed, the orphans are all adopted, the sick have decent healthcare, and every blessed soul is thriving as opposed to just surviving. 

So, there is definitively room at the table of charity and decency, yes, for the Fellowship Ministries for the Advancement of Indigenous Peoples (Or as we who founded and run it refer to it, "The Fellowship").    

The inspiration and calling behind this began a couple of years ago while my husband and I were traveling in a region in the Baja.  We were both born in Mexico but moved to southern California many, many decades ago and are US citizens. However, since we both speak Spanish and have families there, we travel there fairly regularly.

It was during one of these trips that the plight of indigenous people in Mexico hit me like a 10-ton anvil. While resting my arm out the passenger side window of my car eating a pastry and talking away to my husband, I felt a hand grip my confectionery. Startled by this I froze but turned and in a split-second caught sight of a skinny little girl who had seemingly come out of nowhere and had grabbed my pastry with both hands while exclaiming "mio, mio" meaning mine, mine.  I immediately let go of the pastry and saw the little girl take off running like a gazelle. She was looking back at me and hurriedly stuffing her purloined goody into her mouth. Judging from her size and demeanor she had to be around seven or eight years old.

I just knew this little girl had snatched my pastry because she was desperately hungry. I looked out the window and cried out, “Come back. Here's some money”. But she was out of earshot by then, probably intent on making sure I would not take away her sugary treasure. 

I was devastated and in tears because I could not do what I wanted to do, which was help her. Then my husband said "Well, why are you eating in the car? You should have known this sort of thing could happen" I sank back in my seat and said, "I did not see anybody anywhere near our car, and had no reason to suspect this sort of thing would happen."

Who among us with adequate food and clothing can truly picture what it is like to live without either one or both? Then something like what happened to me comes along and changes the way one thinks forever.  

Now I've seen poor street urchins and beggars in big cities in Mexico, but in some of the impoverished villages the Mexican Indians are so poor that they would probably consider becoming street beggars in a large city a step up!

Mind you, many of these native people cannot read, and many cannot even speak Spanish, only a dialect.

A few days after this incident, I returned to this area and toured some villages, and was utterly shocked and devastated by the conditions there. I saw locals (Indigenous people) living in shacks made of cardboard and metal scraps. I also spotted some handicapped children sitting and, in some instances, dragging themselves across the ground. A short time later I was told that many women give birth on the floor on a "petate", a bedroll woven out of palm leaves, and in some cases lose their baby or even their own lives due to a loss of blood they lack to means or know-how to stop (These poor souls have no clinics, no M.D.s, no nurses, no medical care at all).

It was then and there I knew that I had to get involved in helping turn the tables on this nightmarish situation among Mexico's native or indigenous peoples. But I also realized that I could not do this by myself. So, after talking this over with my spouse and several trusted friends and advisers, the way became crystal clear: Set up a nonprofit charity devoted solely to helping get these native peoples out of the poverty, sickness, lack and hopelessness they are mired in (through no fault of their own). Thus, the Fellowship was born. 

If you feel led to be a part of this, you are invited to click this link and send us a message as well as to make a donation.

Grace Odgers

Founder & CEO of the Fellowship

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