Othón Cuevas Córdova
This profile was prepared when Othón Cuevas Córdova was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2004.
The New Idea
In Oaxaca, Mexico, Othón Cuevas Córdova is working with youth to break the vicious cycle of poverty and migration so pervasive in Mesoamerica’s indigenous communities. Many young people today have no appreciation for the traditions or hard-working ethic of their farming ancestors, and would rather leave to seek the good life in the cities. Othón has created a model rooted in the indigenous ethic that teaches young people to understand their cultural roots. At the same time, recognizing that economic reasons also play a part in this mass exodus, he also teaches them how to make a decent living on the farm. He teaches them how to meet their immediate needs as well as plan long term for the future, and gives them the power and confidence to set out on their lives’ paths. Othón believes that if young people have an emotional and ideological bond to the community it will help stem the tide of migration that threatens to turn indigenous communities into ghost towns.