Vibrant Celebration Showcases Oaxaca’s Culture, Traditions, COVID-19 Education in Taft

October 4, 2022 /

Traditional music and food brought together more than 400 members of the community of San Pablo Tijaltepec, in Taft this past Sunday. The tamborazo rumbled to the sound of the Novillo Despuntado while those present enjoyed one of the most typical dishes of this region: mole pozole.

The board of directors of San Pablo Tijaltepec organized the event in partnership with Building Healthy Communities Kern, Faith in the Valley, Kern Sol News and other community organizations to celebrate the rich culture of this region, recognize various community leaders, give community organizations the opportunity to conduct much needed COVID-19 education, and invite attendees to get vaccinated at the vaccine clinic being held at the same event.

“I want to give the most cordial welcome to everyone, everyone is welcome and also to all the organizations that are present with us today: thank you very much for being here”, with those words Valentin Bautista Silva, the president of the Board of Directors of San Pablo Tijaltepec, opened the program.

The event was very timely and important as only 34 percent of Taft’s population have received their primary series of COVID-19 vaccines, compared to 53.5 percent in Kern County, and 72.2 percent statewide. Largely due to limited information reaching this community in the appropriate language for them to make a decision with confidence as Spanish is often the second language for most of this community.

At the event, 53 people were vaccinated, 18 of those received their first dose, according to clinic staff contracted by the Kern County Public Health Department. Community outreach workers shared COVID-19 vaccine resources and shared that there is a new booster. After confirming that the vaccine was free, a woman signed up to receive her first dose. Others made the decision to get vaccinated after learning that the new booster is available for everyone ages 12 and older as long as it had been two months since their last shot and if they meet other eligibility requirements.

Bautista Silva shared that he feels very grateful.

“Well, the truth is that we feel proud and happy and all of us on the board of directors are grateful,” shared Bautista Silva. “I am grateful because a part of our community was vaccinated, and many took the information home and took it to the other members of our community who could not make it.”

Among the invited leaders and those vaccinated was labor leader and community activist, Dolores Huerta, who took advantage of the event to get vaccinated and at the same time try to inspire others to get vaccinated.

During her speech, Huerta invited everyone to get vaccinated and also to go out and vote.

“I know that [the people of Oaxaca] have a reputation for being very organized, I ask you to please take what you learn today to your community and encourage them to go out and vote,” said Huerta.

Daniel Rodela, a community organizer with Faith in the Valley was also recognized during the event. 

“The community of the town of San Pablo Tijaltepec is made up of people with a lot of heart and love for our community. This event is a testament to their commitment to building a better Taft,” shared Rodela. “I was very happy to be part of this great event and to have the friendship and leadership of President Valentin Bautista Silva and his great team.

Bautista Silva is already planning the next event. “In the future, we hope to have another event to bring more resources to the community, we are planning one for January 25, or maybe sooner,” he added.

When asked what he would wish for if he had a magic wand, Bautista Silva said that he would like to bring more resources to preserve the traditional culture and artisanship of San Pablo Tijaltepec in his Taft community.