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Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What are we celebrating?

Violence and drugs affect the city of Juarez in many ways, some bad, some for the better. When Nina and I wake up in the morning you see families walking their kids to school. The kids that are being walked are not just 5 or 6, they're 17 and 18 years old. The community and the family has become very close knit and important. People ask families "Why do you walk your young adults to school?, it wont stop them from taking your daughter or son. they will just kill or take you too", their response is "at least I will know, at least I will know what has happened to my son or daughter". Families eat together at the table, talk, listen, and love each other.
Last friday Nina and I went with members of the Center to church during their choir practice. Everyone was singing and having a great time, when a man walked in who I noticed was carrying a kitchen knife on him, in his belt strap. Nina and I were facing opposit directions and she only saw him but did not see the knife. One of the women we work very closely was sitting next to me and paid no attention to it. After dancing to the music for a minute, he left and went outside.
I told Nina about the knife, and asked that we close the door given that he was directly outside. members of the choir said "esta bien (hes fine)", I trust these women, so I said okay and kept an eye on his where abouts. When I looked outside again he was chasing another member with the knife, I told Nina and the woman who said it was fine, and again they brushed it off. Neighbors began to come outside and calm him down and talk to him even though he had a knife.
At this point, I was thoroughly taken back that no one was alarmed, so I asked them why they were not concerned. They told us that he was a member of the community who has been damaged by drugs and just got released from Jail. They said he used to be calm and cool but since his release has been afraid. The minister of the church we were at said that the man regularly helps him with jobs that he needs done, he just carries a knife because it makes him feel safer. His community, has taken it upon themselves to help support during his struggle with life of drugs, and what it has done to him. The community is so close here, even though many consider it to be divided. Our community, has realized the violence brings everyone together. No one is safer than someone else, so people watch out for each other.
Today marks the Bicentennial of freedom from spain for Mexico. The government in Juarez is not celebrating, but the people and chruches are. The government and many people have asked "What are we celebrating when the people here are feeling so much pain?". The people of Juarez have a right and a need to celebrate more than anyone. They are celebrating the love that has continued to strengthen the people of Mexico and their families. Celebrate to the fact that you reside, and live, and fight for this city even though many have left. Most of all, they are celebrating that they are Mexican, they love being Mexican, and nothing can change that.

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