Our Story  
 

Nija’nu A.C. was founded by Alejandra Olguin and Karen Rasmussen whose visions converged on a visit to Santo Domingo Tonalá. One of the many visits home for Alejandra— whose parents are from Santo Domingo Tonalá and the neighboring village Natividad— was the beginning of a long time desire to give back to the place she had found her roots.
For Karen, visiting her friend’s hometown for the first time became a call to action to address concerns for elders living in poverty many with little or no family support.

 

In April 2013 Nija’nu became an official non-profit organization in Oaxaca, Mexico.



The Team
Alejandra Olguin
(Co-founder, Liason between Tonaltecos living in Napa Valley and Santo Domingo Tonalá)

While Alejandra lives in Oaxaca and California, her life between these two worlds has shaped her vision and the work she does. Her time at home in the Napa Valley, where she was born and raised, has allowed her to reconnect the immigrant community from Santo Domingo Tonalá with their hometown and our elders. She also has inspired a group of Tonaltecos living in the Napa Valley to organize fundraising dinners in support of Nija'nu. Alejandra has a M.A. in Ethnic Studies and is a trained doula.
Karen Rasmussen
(Co-founder & Project Director)


Karen, an international development professional living in Oaxaca, is committed to ensuring the quality and success of the everyday work being done for the elders in Santo Domingo Tonalá. She also fundraises and promotes the project locally, building relationships of support with national and international organizations, small local businesses, Mexican government institutions, and volunteers.
She has a M.A. in International Development and a Ph.D. in Archaeology. She grew up in Germany, the US and Singapore.
Karina Ramirez Duran
(Project Manager on-site)


Karina is the coordinator of all activities locally. In addition, she handles the administrative work that needs to be taken care of in Santo Domingo Tonalá for Nija'nu A.C. She ensures that the food aid packages are ordered on time, paid for and ready for pick up at the beginning of each month. She manages the food aid recipients list, as well as works with local contractors when needed.
She teaches our elders new dance moves, offers arts and crafts classes at our center, and has inspired a group of our elders to go for their primary school diploma!
María de Jesús Cortez Cruz
(Social Worker)


María de Jesús, also known as Chucha, visits with our elders on a regular basis to see how they are doing and spend time with them. She takes them to the doctor when they can't go on their own and brings them the medicine they need. She also helps our elders get their paperwork in order so that they are able to receive their government benefits.
Our Oaxaca Advisory Board

Marta Infante
 
Marta was born in Palencia, Spain, and is now living in Oaxaca. Before she came to Mexico she worked for several years in business administration and accounting in her home town. Her favorite past-time is traveling.
Susannah Rigg

Susannah is a freelance writer and promoter of all things Mexican. She is the founder of Mexico Retold (www.mexicoretold.com), a site focused on telling a different and positive story about Mexico. Before taking her writing career fulltime, Susannah worked with a number of non-profits, both in Mexico and the UK. Susannah lives between Oaxaca and Mexico City, in her quiet time she is busy working on her first novel.

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