operation oaxaca: why me?

my story. why i care. (002)

Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez
5 min readJan 21, 2024

this is carlos.

all right.

i know all of you are wondering:

“why do you give a damn? is it to fill up the meaningless void of your human existence so you don’t kill yourself lol?”


you do it too.

let’s be real.

i don’t know why we were given the circumstances we were born into or why we exist.

i just know that if we don’t do something with ourselves, we get crazy.

and maybe, we might kill ourselves.

but i care.

the village that my blood runs from only has 33,000 people.

i’m a lucky one.

so use what i got to salvage some of them.

the pain point i have is that one day, i won’t be able to return.

or my parents.

or my kids.

that’s a big no-no.

so i guess, fear drives me.

the fear of losing something sacred.

but hey, if it solves heavy metals in water in the process, i’ll let it dominate my thoughts.

Allah has my back.

ok, onto storytime.

get comfy.

back in the day…

i was born in a hospital.

in the united states. i was never born in mexico. i would have died otherwise.


i had open-heart surgery at 3 weeks old. a machine was breathing for me. i should be dead if i were born in my parent’s hometown. there was no hospital with the equipment to operate on me. and here i am. alive.

(you can read more about my story and the condition if curious.)

this would affect my health when i returned to my parent’s hometown and experience a new world.

the worst years of water contamination were when i was 5 to 8.

the water from the wells was contaminated with bacteria and lead ions from mining activity outside of the city. the heavy metal ions entered via the groundwater under the town into our wells.

we build our water to remove the bacteria. but boiling water does not remove heavy metal ions. it would cause anyone who drank it stomachaches and terrible diarrhea.

the go-to solution would be peptobismol and a trip to the doctor asking for recommendations to reduce stomach pain.

the cost?

for my family, we would lose approximately hours optimizing profit from our small candy shop… the candy shop that generates income for us to have food on the table. our attention for the day was limited.

for my aunt, the rural smallholder farmer?

she could not tend the animals or crops for the preparation of selling them on market day (thursday). our family would make ~350 mxn/day. (17.38 usd)

attention is money. and our attention was limited. so was the money.

i’m on far left.

the reality of farmers in rural oaxaca.

farming requires a lot of water and it’s expensive. and farmers from heroica ciudad de ejutla de crespo, oaxaca, mexico can tell you firsthand.

some farmers have wells to collect water for their farm and their families. but the water is not clean for drinking applications.

the average farmer makes 150 mxn (7.45 usd) per day. rural farmers in my town spend over 1/6 of their daily income on potable water jug purchasing.

farmers may have to walk miles for the nearest and cleanest water source to irrigate their crops and nurture their cattle.

increasing the walking time to a water source by just 15 minutes can increase under-five mortality of children by 11%, and raise the prevalence of nutrition-depleting diarrhea by 41%.

former water source (now for animals to load and piss)

so, where are the other water sources?

good question.

or, better, what happened to the water sources?

inside the farmer’s mind.

mo’ money, more flexibility.

my family now has a small farm, car business, candy shop, and a range of animals. that is top-notch flexibility to afford expensive sources of water.

but other families, not so much.

they have to implement mitigation or avoidance behaviors towards agriculture and pollution.

mitigation strategies:

  1. plow or replace the soil
  2. irrigate or find a new water source
  3. select heavy metal pollution-tolerant varieties
  4. plant trees or fish ponds instead of crops

avoidance strategies:

  1. abandoning crop cultivation because of the perception of severe pollution
  2. trying to move out because of the feeling of serious pollution or they already have been polluted

the willingness to pay in my town is between 53,36 to 100,67 mxn (2.65 to 5.00 usd) bimonthly.

cacao beans. yum.

with heavy metals that affect goods, the treatment of water with heavy metal ions poses an extra cost to the products in which water is used.

this cost would increase with the high price of goods & services since it is used in the production of several products.

this is why the willingness to pay is low. it adds extra cost for the service of goods and loses profit (a smidge) for the return of potentially gaining profit. there is a risk here for the farmers. this is 2nd/3rd-world crypto investing for them.

with a new product, the farmers would like to invest in something that has low risk, & guaranteed a return on investment (roi) on their profit & their quality of life (qol)… even if the roi is small.

they do not want to pay for something that has a high roi chance and has a large downside/risk.

here is how the poor slowly do not become that poor: they own things that get them a higher income and a high qol roi. it’s not that they work to make usd 1k, it’s that they own things that are worth usd 1k (in their lens).

below are a couple of videos my family recorded of the scenario in ejutla de crespo. the first video is the thursday market.

the 2nd video is a rural smallholder farmer’s land (p.s. that is a lot of water)

ok, now… why me?

i have lived the problem. i can build something that these people would pay through the nose for without trying. i understand what must get done.

i got a town on my shoulders. i got trust. one must understand the other person before explaining intentions. i am grateful that i do not need to. my team can enter and be given a chance to resolve their problem and pilot test.

God is with me. there is a mountain of growth ahead of me. and there will be battles to fight. but how does someone with these circumstances get to this point? with the help of The Creator. it’s my fight. and mine alone.

© 2024–2100 by Carlos Manuel Jarquín Sánchez. All Rights Reserved.