“When we are gone, what is left? Children deserve access to education and a healthy environment. We need to do our best to leave them that.” – Antonella Vázquez.
Supporting and celebrating those who work for the benefit of others here in the Riviera Maya is what the KKIS Change Maker Spotlight is all about.
In this month’s Change Maker Spotlight, we are featuring Antonella Vázquez, KKIS attorney, and founder of DMAS, a Mexican non-profit providing free legal assistance to defend the right to a healthy environment not just in Riviera Maya but in all of Mexico.
Antonella Vázquez, Helping KKIS Change Education in the Riviera Maya
Navigating the complex rules governing non-profits in Mexico would have been impossible without the help of Antonella and her team.
Antonella credits her mentor for instilling the value of giving back “…especially to something that you believe will really last.
The mission of KKIS is one of those things. Education in Riviera Maya is the foundation for all change.”
A year and a half ago, Antonella hired Irma, a second-year law student, and KKIS University Scholar.
“It is been a great experience having Irma work with us. She gives a lot more than we ever expected. It has been a great surprise – she does the work of researching and gathering information better than attorneys!”
Antonella encourages Irma and all her staff to use their talents to help make the change they want to see in the world.
Leading by Example – DMAS, A.C.
At the end of 2017, as a passion and without the purpose of profit, Antonella formed DMAS which is the acronym in Spanish for Defendiendo el Derecho a un Medio Ambiente Sano (Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment).
She explains: “There are a lot of individuals and groups interested and knowledgeable of how we can do things better in terms of urban planning, construction and use of natural resources in Quintana Roo, but they don’t have the legal back up to put it on the table before authorities and even less before the courts.”
Article 4 of Mexico’s constitution establishes the right to a healthy environment and DMAS was created to help environmentalists enforce such human rights.
DMAS began with a case of protecting a mangrove. They have also been involved with a case that risked losing one of the main public beaches in Cancún. “Throughout our journey, we learned (while suing) about the process and implications of an urban development plan.
We also learned the value of choosing a target that is feasible but valuable and crucial to the environment at the same time.”
This is how DMAS learned about a tool called the Municipal Risk Atlas, which by law all Municipalities are required to have and use in their planning.
The Municipal Risk Atlas is basically a MAP of where mangroves, wetlands, cenotes, and underground rivers are in the area in order to protect them while protecting the citizens.
These documents are crucial to face climate change consequences as the sea level rise increase and stronger hurricanes.
Thus, the current objective of DMAS is to have the municipalities of Quintana Roo elaborate on, approve and USE the information a Municipal Risk Atlas provides for the benefit of the environment and therefore ourselves.
Like so many non-profits, the DMAS leadership teamwork on a volunteer basis. KKIS Change Maker, Antonella Vázquez brings her project managing and legal experience to the table, and Rebeca manages the organization.
The hard day-to-day work is made by a recently graduated attorney and KKIS University Scholar, Irma.
“We are looking for individuals and companies that could donate to DMAS so we are able to assure our team their legal, professional, and economic growth while they defend the environment for all of us; an environment that not only is key to the main activity of the area, tourism but also is key to our communities facing sea-level rise and climate change.”
DMAS has all the legal credentials and the authorization from the Mexican TAX ministry to provide tax-deductible receipts.
Opportunities to Support Change Makers
Change Makers are peaceful warriors who extend themselves, most often without receiving financial compensation for their efforts, to help others and the community at large.
Not everyone is a warrior, but all of us can make the decision to support them with time or money.