Friday, August 6, 2010

A Glimpse of Chimalhuacan

The big highlight of my time in Mexico was our Mission Week. Sisters Grace and Maria spent considerable time preparing for this event. Sister Grace worked with two teams. One was the "morning team", because the mornings were spent with adolescents. The "evening team" worked with families. I enjoyed being with both teams and was deeply impressed with their leadership capabilities, especially the young people who worked with the adolescents. Some of them were almost the same age as the people with whom they were working. More about these teams later.

I just thought I'd give a little background on Chimalhuacan. It is in the State of Mexcio, but considered to be part of Metropolitan Area of Mexico City. In fact, when I was returning by metro and bus to Chimalhuacan from Mexico City, I followed the signs that said "autobuses suburbanos" (suburban buses). Let me tell you the word suburban took on a whole new meaning for me! When I think suburb, I tend to think tree-lined streets, front lawns, you get the picture. Chimalhuacan would shatter any preconceived notions of the word suburb. It is an area of close to one million people. It is built on what was once a lake. It has become heavily populated in recent years as people left rural areas of Mexico seeking jobs and better educational opportunities for their children. In fact, one encounters a similar population in Chimalhuacan to what I found in southeast Alabama, people from the states of Guerrero, Oaxaca and Puebla. As families settled in Chimalhuacan, the government provided the land and the people constructed the houses. Since there was little money to begin with, the houses as you will see are very humble and simple. Chimalhuacan is very close to the "basureros", the garbage dumps. One of the saddest sights you will see are shacks made out of carton which house people who make their livelihood going through the dumps. What we consider garbage is a big industry in Chimalhuacan. Nothing is so deteriorated that it can't be repaired!
I'm attaching a power point presentation with photos of Chimalhuacan. I'm sorry I didn't get the very busy business districts with modern stores, and that the weather didn't cooperate either. On the outskirts of Chimalhuacan, you'll see globalization in action with many stores that you'd find in a U.S. mall. (That's a story for another day!) My intention with these photos is not to paint a bleak picture, but in order you might capture the resilience of a people for whom hope gushes through their veins, not a plastic or dreamy hope, but one that enables them, in spite of many adverse conditions, to get up every day and forge ahead for a better life for themselves and their children, and even for people they don't really know. Chimalhuacan is a place that is fertile ground for drugs and violence among those who haven't learned to hope. I am very proud of our Church and my religious community, the Missionary Servants of the Most Blessed Trinity. Both serve as beacons of hope for this strong and beautiful people. Please click here

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