The Rarámuri or Tarahumara Indians are a native people of the northwestern Sierra Madre in Mexico, a rugged mountain range often referred to as the “Copper Canyon.” Rarámuri means “those who run fast.” The Rarámuri are renowned for their long-distance running abilities, kicking wooden balls for up to 200 miles in one session through the cliffs and valleys of the Copper Canyon.
When the Conquistadores invaded Mexico in the 16th century, many Raramuri fled deep into the canyons of the Sierra Madre to escape the Spanish armies. To this day, the Raramuri continue to be widely dispersed throughout the mountains, living in caves and makeshift houses alongside their animals. Staple crops are maize, beans and squash- but when these crops fail due to drought, many families suffer hunger.
Unlike media portrayal, there is immense physical suffering among this people group. The region’s maternal and infant mortality rates are the highest in Mexico and the fifth highest in the world. Due to delay in seeking medical care, contaminated water, and food scarcity, up to 50% of children die in the first few years of life. Children with heart defects, Type 1 diabetes, and other chronic diseases routinely treated in the United States do not typically survive.
Perhaps the deepest need of the Tarahumara is freedom from the fear and spiritual bondage that has controlled their people for generations. While the Tarahumara do believe in a creator god, their god depends on human efforts and ceremonies to sustain him. They believe that this god has relegated to a life of poverty and suffering. The Tarahumara fear evil spirits that can attack their health, their animals, and their families, even fearing the rainbow, which they believe steals their children.
Willy and I are excited to be partnering with Mexico Medical Missions, a non-denominational Christian organization with a hospital based in Samachique- a community in the heart of the Copper Canyon. Mexico Medical Missions seeks to alleviate the physical and spiritual suffering of the Tarahumara people by introducing them to the Creator God who is not distant and cruel, but rather who loves and cares for them. Through the work being done at Hospital Misión Tarahumara, many Tarahumara people have found freedom from fear, experiencing a new peace and joy found in Jesus Christ.
You can read more about the hospital here: http://www.mexicomedical.org/.