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Friday, November 13, 2009

November 11, 2009

The team called today’s site “An oasis in the middle of a desert.” Our site visit in the morning took place at a private school and cooperative built on the top of the former garbage dump of the city. Centro Santa Catalina de Siena serves 30 kindergartners in three shifts of 10 each according to age, and300 students for after school programs. Students come from the nearby colonias. The students receive a full scholarship.

The Centro also hosts a women’s cooperative where 29 ladies work three mornings per week creating indigenous style tablecloths, shawls, handbags, and other made-to-order garments for sale at churches in the USA and through the internet. These women receive a monthly salary and participate in the decision making process of the cooperative/school. Most of these women came to Juarez about 20 years ago from México’s interior searching for jobs to support their families.

After sharing their stories of violence in Juárez, one of the women said, “Centro Santa Catalina is one of the solutions. It teaches children their ABCs and family values. Women can come to create beautiful crafts and sell them. Women now are aware that they have rights and they do not have to suffer domestic violence and other human rights injustices.”

The latest project the Centro undertook is the creation of three raised vegetable gardens. The hope is to expand it as a community garden project in order to unite the communities.

Centro Santa Catalina is incorporated as a 501(c)3 in the USA and is able to fulfill its mission with the generous donations and contributions of many foundations, corporations, and individuals.

In the afternoon we visited the Integral Defense Area of the Human Rights Center. They made a presentation on their history and objectives followed by statistics of their service to the community. This group is deeply involved with the land ownership issues of the Colonia Km 27 that we visited last Sunday. The Integral Defense Area is discerning over the dissolution of the Agrarian Reform office, the installation of an Ejido 30+ years ago, the lack of legal papers showing ownership of the land, and the fast moving mega development (Geronimo Project) of the area for an industrial park that will cover lands in New Mexico, Texas, and Juárez, México. This Human Rights Center invited the MPT to place a permanent team in Juárez and has been achieving its goals with a series of successful programs in favor of the poor in Juárez.

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