When it comes to helping the Running People, Will and Caballo are short on words, long on deeds.

Good thing honest brokers like Caballo and Will Harlan are on the job, because when it comes to emergency drought relief for the Tarahumara, the Mexican government is apparently all talk, no pinole.
You have to be impressed by the long-range strategies of Harlan and the Horse. Will’s approach is to not only help out with immediate food rations, but also assist with water catchment and seed dispersal to head off future shortages. Caballo is not only distributing food to settlements, but raising an astonishing amount of cash and corn as prizes for his race (which the canyon-dwellers refer to as “The Caballo Blanco Ultramarathon”). How he puts together a race every year that has now grown to more than 300 runners is a mystery. When I asked recently, Caballo just shrugged: “i do not think I could begin to describe the challenges and do not want to remind myself of them–:] just move forward 1 more time.”

Will just sent this report from his assistance trip to the canyons, while on the same day, this killer poster for Caballo’s race went live:

Dear Friends of the Tarahumara,
Your donations provided the Tarahumara with several tons of emergency food. Hundreds of Tarahumara received corn, beans, potatoes, and other food from the Sierra Tarahumara Food Bank near Urique. They also are receiving natural, non-GMO seeds to plant this spring. In addition, we are installing a water reservoir at a Tarahumara spring near Huisichi to help capture and store water during the drought, the worst in Mexico’s recorded history. The food donations will help in the short-term; the seeds and water reservoir will enable the Tarahumara to sustain themselves long-term.

I witnessed firsthand the drought and famine facing the Tarahumara. I met and talked with many Tarahumara farmers whose corn crops failed because of the lack of rain. I saw their empty corn cribs and their dry, barren fields.

The Tarahumara were incredibly appreciative of the donations. No people are more worthy of help. They are a tough, self-sufficient people who have survived for centuries on their own in some of the world’s most rugged, remote terrain. They are not used to support from outside their community. Asking for help has not been easy for many of them. Yet they were deeply grateful for the food, seeds, and water. The distribution of food was an emotional and powerful experience. Families trekked from all over the canyons to receive the emergency food aid, and many carried it home on their backs. We delivered some food aid by truck to a couple of outlying communities as well.

At the heart of Tarahumara culture and tradition is “korima,” which loosely translates to “sharing.” Though the Tarahumara have few material possessions, they freely share them. They share food and clothes—as well as wisdom and insight—without expectation of a reciprocal gift. For them, giving is a natural and joyful part of being human.

Each of you participated in the circle of korima with the Tarahumara. Thank you immensely. Your generosity is as deep as the canyons.


Will Harlan
Barefoot Farm


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