How the slums of Mexico changed me *published in Children International eNews

About two years ago I walked through the slums of Mazatlán, Mexico. I looked over at the children in the street, who were playing soccer barefoot, and almost tripped over the loose wires that the neighbors had used to create their own electrical system. I sat next to a mother in her one-room shack, and she welcomed me.

You may ask what a pale, blonde-haired, blue-eyed, Kansas girl was doing in a ghetto south of the border. You may think that it seems like the perfect plot for a horror film.

I was working as an intern at Noroeste newspaper in Mazatlán, and my editor decided he wanted me to experience the “real Mexico.” You see, while the other Americans were slathering on the sunblock at Mazatlán’s beautiful beaches, I was experiencing parts of the city hidden to tourists.

I’m not saying I asked to visit the area. I was scared. I felt uncomfortable. I felt frivolous in my pretty designer clothing.

But the residents didn’t care. Sure, a few heads turned, but they welcomed me into their houses. They were eager to tell me about the injustices they had suffered; how the government wouldn’t help them and how they had to create their own electrical and sewage systems.

When I left that day, I felt morose. Don’t get me wrong, I knew that there was poverty in the world. I, myself, did not come from an affluent background. However, to see this firsthand, to talk to poverty’s victims, to see its children, deeply moved me.

Too often we place ourselves so distant from things that make us uncomfortable. We tell ourselves that it’s not our fault and we go on with our lives. We live blind and barren.

I am by birth a fighter for justice. However, my experiences in Mexico have made me stronger in my convictions. I can now put a face on poverty and injustice, and my desire for amnesty for all has increased.

I wish I could tell all of you to visit my little section of Mexico and talk to the people who I talked to, but that is impossible. What I can encourage you to do is open your heart. Understand that we are all connected in this world, and that everybody matters. Wealth should not be measured in dollars, but in love.

I would also encourage you to join me in fighting childhood poverty by sponsoring a child through Children International. I have been sponsoring a child for almost a year, and it is so encouraging to know that I am helping her become the person that she deserves to be.

Please join me. Help make a difference for one child. Show your love and support for those in poverty throughout the world.

This post was reproduced for Children International June 2008 eNews. To see the blog and photos, click for English or Spanish.

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5 responses to “How the slums of Mexico changed me *published in Children International eNews

  1. I work for Children International. I am so happy that you channeled your energy into making a difference in the life of your sponsored child. It can be difficult for us to imagine the poverty which cripples other parts of the world. Thank you for fighting poverty one child at a time!

    Welcome to the Children International family!

  2. That is very sad, yet interesting. I’m glad that you are trying to make a difference, but tell me, is it just you are many, cause theres a difference..???

  3. That is very sad, yet interesting. I’m glad that you are trying to make a difference, but tell me, is it just you or many, cause theres a difference..???

  4. Hey i really loved your entry “how the slums of mexico changed me”. I am planning a trip through mexico in a car and would love some ideas on what i can do to help while i’m there for a couple months. Seeing as you have been there and know whats going on what can i do there? I dont have money to donate but i do have time.

    • Which parts of Mexico will you be visiting and do you know Spanish? I know that Children International has a field office in Guadalajara. There are a lot of volunteer programs you can get involved in throughout Mexico, depending on your interest. Google “volunteer Mexico” and many entries will pop up. Some of these require a fee for one reason or another, but many are free. Particularly, I would recommend looking for one of the initiatives with the local Mayan communities. One site offers volunteering with local communities, and includes free accommodations and discounted food: http://www.yucatanadventure.com.mx/volunteering-FAQ.htm

      Thanks for reading, and let me know if I can be of further assistance.

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