Eliana Maria Herrerias Najera
Eliana Herrerias Najera passed away at the age of 53, April 18, 2017.
Born in Mexico City, she was the granddaughter of Ignacio Herrerias Ekelund, a war correspondent for the newspaper El Tiempo during the Mexican Revolution, killed by Zapata’s forces while on assignment to interview Emiliano Zapata in 1912.
At the age of 13, she wanted to learn a third language besides Spanish and English and picked German, a choice that would become very handy in later life.
After majoring in psychology at the National Autonomous University (UNAM) Herrerias worked at Mercedes Benz Mexico and traveled to Germany for the first time. She later majored in social pedagogy/migrants at the Catholic University for Applied Sciences in North Westfalia, Germany, and completed several internships, working with newly arrived migrants.
Herrerias taught Spanish at the University of Berlin and went to Florida for an internship supporting the implementation of after-school programs for the children of Mexican migrants.
She worked for German pharmaceutical company CECLA/Schering in Mexico and was responsible for the relocation of foreign executives and their families. She later returned to Germany to continue work at Schering AG in Berlin for three years, then returned to Mexico City in 2006.
Eventually she moved to Mazamitla, where she started Centro Educativo Alexander Norman, a school for English as a second language, enrolling children and teachers from Mazamitla and from the surrounding areas. Today, the Centro continues to teach English to both children and professionals.
Herrerias, always an animal lover, rescued animals in and around the Mazamitla region, and started Salud y Derecho Ambiental, a nonprofit. She ran workshops on the Plaza, teaching people and kids to treat animals with respect. She rescued many dogs and cats from the streets and paid for most of the costs out of her own pocket. Local dignitaries and vets supported her in her efforts.
Herrerias worked with ARDAT, a Lakeside dog therapy program, and with her dog Fenia she visited Mazamitla schools, held events on the plaza for kids, and workshops for the police on the humane treatment of street dogs.
Many times, she spoke with dignitaries of the Lakeside municipalities to get the State of Jalisco Law Protecting Animals enforced. Herrerias set up spay and neuter clinics to help reduce the street dog and cat populations. She was an active member of the Asociación Mexicana de los Derechos de los Animales (AMEDEA), wrote columns, was often on the radio; she used these and other means of communication to protest maltreatment of animals, especially bullfighting.
In the summer of 2010, she founded together, with five others, the Humane Education Alliance (HEA) to educate elementary school children about animals and the environment, and about bullying. With the help of the secretary of education, HEA brought its Guardians of the Planet program to 58 schools in the Jocotepec and Chapala region. She worked as the program coordinator until she started to become ill.
During her illness, Herrerias became more and more interested in eating healthy. She was a good cook and made soups to sell at the Farmers Market in Ajijic. She also opened, together with her sister, a small organic gourmet restaurant in Mazamitla.
Herrerias is survived by her mother, one brother, and three sisters. Her Lakeside animal lover friends and activists and all the animals whose lives she touched, saved, or made better will sorely miss her. Learning from the past, living in the present, and building for the future of the animals is her legacy.
A private celebration of her life was held for Herrerias, April 29, in Ajijic.