Culture

The Latina Muslim Foundation Is Raising Money To Give Muslim Asylum Seekers A Place To Worship In Tijuana

It may come as a surprise to some but in the border city of Tijuana, Mexico, the population of Muslim migrants as well as Mexican converts to Islam are growing. While some have arrived there from other countries, many are waiting as they seek asylum in the U.S. due to President Trump’s Remain in Mexico policy. All of this has resulted in a rising number of Muslims that are looking for any kind of shelter or housing situation while they wait.

Making the situation more difficult is adjusting to life in a foreign land. Some have arrived from places as far as Syria, Togo, Somalia, and Ghana. Then there are the constant stares from strangers when they see a hijab and the ensuing questions about it. 

The toughest aspect for Muslims in Tijuana is finding a place to pray throughout the day. There is currently only one mosque, the Playas de Tijuana, in the city which has made this a challenge, especially for migrants living in shelters.

This is why Sonia Garcia, the founder of the Latina Muslim Foundation is currently raising money to build a shelter for Muslim migrants and deported women.

Credit: @themuslimvibe / Twitter

Garcia knows firsthand about the struggles that many in the growing Muslim community in Tijuana are facing. She was born in the city and was raised as a Catholic before converting to Islam. Like many of the other Muslim women that have arrived in Tijuana, Garcia knows how hard it is to navigate through the city.  

“They don’t know the food, the culture, the language,” Garcia told the San Diego Tribune. “It is very difficult for them. People thought I was Arabic. They asked why I was in Tijuana.”

This is why Garcia and Mayte Gutierrez, another Latina who has converted to Islam, have put forth efforts to help the growing Muslim community near the border city. Their plan is to raise awareness and money to build a permanent shelter for Muslim migrants and deported women. They see the shelter as a place where migrants can receive help with their social services, receive medical care and most importantly, an area where they can come to pray. 

Those at the Latina Muslim Foundation hope that the shelter becomes a hub of some sort where all Muslims in the local area can come together to connect and celebrate their religion all while feeling more at home in Mexico. But it won’t be that easy without support.

For years both Garcia and Gutierrez have been doing whatever they can to help when Muslim migrants arrive in Tijuana. Now, they need the help of others to raise money for this much-needed shelter.

Credit: The Latina Muslim Foundation / Facebook

Garcia says that the organization is currently planning to purchase a nearby warehouse that is located about 10 minutes away from the U.S.-Mexico border. They plan to transform it into a large two-story shelter that will have room for social workers and lawyers, a kitchen, showers and a room for prayer that will have multiple copies of the Quran. 

As of now, the organization has found a location for the shelter as well as a blueprint by an architect and a group of volunteers that are willing to provide free legal and social services. 

“The only thing we need is the money,” Garcia says. 

Currently, the Latina Muslim Foundation has raised close to $30,00 but said it needs a total of roughly $250,000 to have enough for their entire project. They are currently raising money by reaching out to people online through a fundraiser. 

“We are seeking to purchase a warehouse where the need is most great, thereby being able to provide these individuals with a place to stay, eat, and learn skills where they can make themselves marketable in order to find a job to maintain themselves and their families.  We will also have a musala located in this facility so that prayer can be established 5 times a day, Islamic studies classes can be given, and the Quran can be taught,” the fundraising page reads. 

With a growing population of asylum seekers, the shelter situation in Tijuana is also growing worse. So Gutierrez sees the Latina Muslim Foundation’s goal of building this shelter as dire. 

“There exists a big gap of misunderstanding, of ignorance,” Gutierrez said. “Being Latino, being Muslim, we can connect.”

READ: 2019 Has Been The Year Of Body Positivity: Get To Know The Plus Size Latinas Who Are Leading The Body Positive Game By Example

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Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

Things That Matter

Mexico Plunges 23 Places On The World Happiness Report As The Country Struggles To Bounce Back

When it comes to international happiness rankings, Mexico has long done well in many measurements. In fact, in 2019, Mexico placed number 23 beating out every other Latin American country except for Costa Rica. But in 2020, things looks a lot different as the country slipped 23 spots on the list. What does this mean for Mexico and its residents? 

Mexico slips 23 spots on the World Happiness Report thanks to a variety of compelling factors.

Mexico plummeted 23 places to the 46th happiest nation in the world, according to the 2020 happiness rankings in the latest edition of the United Nations’ World Happiness Report. The coronavirus pandemic had a significant impact on Mexicans’ happiness in 2020, the new report indicates.

“Covid-19 has shaken, taken, and reshaped lives everywhere,” the report noted, and that is especially true in Mexico, where almost 200,000 people have lost their lives to the disease and millions lost their jobs last year as the economy recorded its worst downturn since the Great Depression.

Based on results of the Gallup World Poll as well as an analysis of data related to the happiness impacts of Covid-19, Mexico’s score on the World Happiness Report index was 5.96, an 8% slump compared to its average score between 2017 and 2019 when its average ranking was 23rd.

The only nations that dropped more than Mexico – the worst country to be in during the pandemic, according to an analysis by the Bloomberg news agency – were El Salvador, the Philippines and Benin.

Mexico has struggled especially hard against the Coronavirus pandemic. 

Since the pandemic started, Mexico has fared far worse than many other countries across Latin America. Today, there are reports that Mexico has been undercounting and underreporting both the number of confirmed cases and the number of deaths. Given this reality, the country is 2nd worst in the world when it comes to number of suspected deaths, with more than 200,000 people dead. 

Could the happiness level have an impact on this year’s elections?

Given that Mexico’s decline in the rankings appears related to the severity of the coronavirus pandemic here, one might assume that the popularity of the federal government – which has been widely condemned for its management of the crisis from both a health and economic perspective – would take a hit.

But a poll published earlier this month found that 55.9% of respondents approved of President López Obrador’s management of the pandemic and 44% indicated that they would vote for the ruling Morena party if the election for federal deputies were held the day they were polled.

Support for Morena, which apparently got a shot in the arm from the national vaccination program even as it proceeded slowly, was more than four times higher than that for the two main opposition parties, the PAN and the PRI.

Still, Mexico’s slide in the happiness rankings could give López Obrador – who has claimed that ordinary Mexicans are happier with him in office – pause for thought.

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Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Culture

Mexico Is Owning The Instagram-Worthy World Of Glamping With These Bubble Hotels

Right now just about everyone is itching to go on vacation. But considering that we’re still mid-pandemic and the call remains to socially distance, what can one do?

Sure, glamping is nothing new – it’s filled our Instagram feeds for years and was around long before that – but it may just provide travelers with that socially-distanced staycation that so many of us need right about now. Or, better yet, wait a little while longer and get yourself to Mexico where several new glamping bubble hotels are popping up.

Mexico will soon have three “bubble hotel” options for tourists looking for the next level of “glamping.”

When you think of camping, many of us think of bugs, not showering, and doing our private business behind a bush somewhere. While that’s still definitely an option for those of us that are into it, glamping has been a trend towards making the camping experience a more comfortable one.

Glamping has been gaining popularity among nature lovers, who also want to enjoy those everyday creature comforts, but in the midst of beautiful landscapes. That’s why bubble hotels have been popping up across Mexico, to offer clients a unique stay, close to nature they’re the perfect ‘getaway’ to get out of your daily routine.

From the bosque outside Mexico City to the deserts of Baja, Mexico is a glamping paradise. 

These bubble hotels have rooms described by travel guidebook publisher Lonely Planet as essentially inflatable, transparent domes designed to allow guests to cocoon themselves in nature without quite leaving their material comforts behind. 

There are already two such properties across Mexico with a third which will begin welcoming guests sometime toward the end of this year.

One of those that is already operational is Alpino Bubble Glamping in Mexico City while the other is the Campera Bubble Hotel in the Valle de Guadalupe wine region of Baja California.

Located in the Cumbres de Ajusco National Park in the south of the capital, the former has just two “bubbles,” a 40-square-meter deluxe one that goes for 4,500 pesos (about US $220) a night and a 25-square-meter standard where a stay costs a slightly more affordable 4,000 pesos.

Both have views of the Pico del Águila, the highest point of the Ajusco, or Xitle, volcano, and come equipped with telescopes that guests can use to get a better view of the surrounding scenery and night sky.

Bubble glamping isn’t the camping our parents dragged us out to do in the woods as kids.

Credit: Alpino Bubble Hotel

Sure you may be connecting with nature and enjoying awesome activities like horseback riding, stargazing, hiking or rafting, but these properties come with all the creature comforts we’re used to. 

Move nights, wifi, breakfast in bed, warm showers, luxurious bedding, and even a full bar are all standard amenities at many of these properties.

What do you think? Would you be up to stay the night at one of these bubble hotels?

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