Faith de las Personas

This project has been sixteen years in the making. In 1994 I had an opportunity to participate in the Latin American Experience program with the Benedictine Sisters at the Misioneras Guadalupanas de Cristo Rey (Guadalupe Center) of Cuernavaca, Mexico and to experience firsthand the work they do with the neighboring townships and the poor. Many townships in Mexico are settlements of people, living in poverty, that are not officially recognized by the government and thus are ineligible for public services such as electricity, roads, and water. The Sisters embrace Liberation Theology and work with the community to integrate a root-cause approach that involves personal responsibility combined with a form of activism that helps people make positive changes in their situation.

In 2010 I had an opportunity to finally return to the same neighborhoods that I visited in sixteen years ago and to reconnect with many of the same families that I had met. In one of the oldest and most established townships, the changes were, to my eyes, amazing. The small cinderblock dwellings with salvaged steel and aluminum for roofs which I had seen on my first visit had been replaced with more formally constructed homes. Now there were paved roads (and those that weren’t paved were scheduled to be so), electricity and, most importantly, public bus routes in many places. My first thought was that the township had been displaced by new development but that was, for the most part, not the case. The township, through political involvement, activism, and community cohesiveness had brought many of these changes about on their own (including the construction of their own sanctified chapel, a major sign of a community that has come into its’ own).

Many people outside Mexico who have visited with the Sisters usually leave having had an enlightening and moving experience. They always say they will return someday . . . few ever do. In the United States (and throughout most of the world), the media’s portrayal of Mexico focuses on the drug violence, immigration issues, etc. Unfortunately it is a continuing sign of the failure of the mainstream media in the United States to diversify their coverage of international issues (and in particular Mexico) and to focus on real root cause problems instead of headline-grabbing incidents. This project is still on-going with plans to make several more trips over the next couple of years. My hope is this project will help to bring attention to the issues faced by the indigenous people of Mexico and to highlight the positive aspects and results that community-based approaches can achieve.

NOTE: All proceeds from the sale of photos from this series will be donated to help support the work of the Misoneras Guadalupanas de Christo Rey (Guadalupe Center) of Cuernavaca.

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