As reported in our September Soundings, because of Covid-19 precautions, Eco-Alianza's 13th Anniversary will be celebrated along with next year's 14th Anniversary GALA in November of 2021 at the Hotel La Mision. Proceeds from the GALA normally provide the majority of funding for all Eco-Alianza conservation and education programs, so to raise the necessary program funding for the coming year, we are currently holding an Online Fund Drive that officially wraps up on October 31.
For the last six months, Eco-Alianza's employees, donors, and volunteers have played a critical role in seeing Loreto through an extraordinary time – the sudden exodus of most part-year Loreto residents, rampant unexpected unemployment, and the uneasy arrival of the Covid pandemic. At its peak, Eco-Alianza's Temporary Food Security Program for Unemployed Workers was providing twice-monthly food “despensas” to 2,300 local families. With an average of 4.0 people per family served, that's 9,200 people, or roughly half of Loreto's population.
If we are going to protect Loreto and this One Ocean, we see now more than ever that we cannot just treat the symptoms. The center of it all is sustainable economic development and food security. Caring for people and building community through the shared ethic of conservation has been Eco-Alianza's core mission from the beginning.
As we reported to you on May 15, Eco-Alianza's Temporary Emergency Food Assistance Program for Unemployed Workers received a huge boost from a 2:1 donation challenge match generously made by an anonymous donor of the International Community Foundation. Responding to our April 7 request for donations, nearly 300 donors kindly opened their hearts and their wallets to help tour guides, waiters, housekeepers, groundskeepers, entrepreneurs, fishermen, stylists, and a huge array of professionals and laborers who were suddenly unemployed when nearly all part-time residents and tourists left Loreto at the height of this year's tourist season because of the pandemic.
At the height of the tourist season, global emergency measures to counter attack the COVID-19 pandemic have placed Loreto in a vulnerable situation -- during the peak months that our ecotour guides, our hotel workers, restaurant workers, and other service workers rely on to put cash in their savings to survive the quiet summer months that typically have few visitors.
In celebration of this year's Loreto Blue Whale Festival, we spoke with Mariana Salgado, Park Ranger and Biologist for the Parque Nacional Bahía de Loreto (PNBL) and also to Bryan Olachea, a Blue Whale researcher who will present “Gigantes del Mar,” a free, bilingual Visiting Scientist talk at the Chili Willy large open-air palapa on the Loreto Malecon, just north of the lighthouse at 5:00 p.m. on March 20.