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Friday, November 20, 2009

November 17, 2009

Once again, we experienced another oasis in Juárez. We visited the Centro de Asesoria y Promocion Juvenil and spoke with its founder and two youths who have benefit from the programs at this youth center. Centro de Asesoría y Promoción Juvenil (CASA – Youth Assessment and Promotion Center) in Ciudad Juárez – aims to prevent youth violence and marginalization. Its vision is to improve the quality of life of young girls and boys and youth is the community through the creation of spaces and programs that contribute to their social and civic formation and promotion. For more on this center, see its Spanish web site at

This center involves young people from poor neighborhoods in productive and constructive alternatives. They work from the premise that gangs are excellent vehicles for poor youngsters to socialize. The center redirects and refocus such activities as graffiti painting and hip hop/rap into a form of artistic expression for young gang members. The center coordinated the summit of several neighborhood gangs (Ratas 13, Los Tristes. Bajos 21, Novenos, and others) and in one day of collaboration among the different gangs painted a mural along the wall of a day care center affiliated with the center. Each gang used its colors and tried to express their own voice.

One of the youngsters sharing his experiences at
the center with us is a
former gang member who now attends the university by means of a scholarship from the center. He explained how the center provides training for serigraphy and the young people have started a micro industry silk screening different products and selling them. He also told us about the different concerts the center organizes where young people are able to express and verbalize their sentiments through hip hop, rap and other forms of music. The have uploaded to U-tube videos of their performances. Click or copy URL below to sample of one of them.


The center is in the midst of a girls soccer competition. Young women from different neighborhoods form soccer team and compete against each other. The matches are well attended and provides a gathering place where gangs and people from all the surrounding neighborhoods can intermingle in a social and pacific way. They even have a team made up entirely of Tarahumara young women.

Additionally the center provides educational opportunities for young people whose parents cannot afford the uniforms or textbook required by the public education system. The center is in process of expansion into a building donated by its former user Kolping International.

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