Monday, October 15, 2007

Behind the Scenes: Meet the Writer

Beginning Tuesday, October 16, Children International’s website ( will feature a story about a family living in desperate poverty in Mexico. We thought you might like to go behind the scenes and meet Alejandro Bonilla, the communications coordinator for our agency in Jalisco, Mexico, who wrote the story. Here’s a bit of personal insight from Alejandro:

“The first time I visited the Muñoz family’s house, I was impressed with the extreme poverty in which they live. The landscape was dreary; their house is at the top of a hill, and you have to negotiate a path made of rocks and mud to climb it. When I saw this dramatic scene I realized that Adela, the supervisor for Children International’s community center in Paraísos del Colli, was not exaggerating when she told me this family really needs help urgently if they are to make it.

“In Jalisco, most families who live in poverty at least have a brick house with a cement roof to protect them from the rain and the cold. But the Muñozes live like paupers. Roughly 10% of those who live in poverty live in situations similar to that of this family in Zapopan. I was really surprised to see the house was made of cardboard and tarps; the first thing I asked myself was how the family protected itself from the heavy rains that fall in Jalisco for five months out of the year. I got my answer right away: the children’s mother told me she doesn’t sleep, because she has to be alert every night so she can save her children in case of a mudslide.

“They get wet almost every night, because water leaks in through the flimsy walls of the house. So the children always have colds; this is evident in their faces, in their weakness and in the deep sadness in their eyes. Those apparently spontaneous smiles turn to sadness when you look into the children’s eyes and realize there would be little to hope for their future without the help Children International can offer them.

“When I finished taking pictures and interviewing the children’s mom and dad, I realized how easy my life is compared to theirs. Both of the parents are my age, but their lives have been so hard they look 10 years older. The dad works in construction all day, barely eating and always worrying because he has five children to feed. It seems the days go by and nothing changes in this family’s life…nothing improves. When you have no plans and no dreams, you learn to just survive.

“But deep down, the mother’s eyes hold sincere hope for change. Shyly and after much thought, as though it were something completely alien to her life, she said she would like for her children to go to college and become lawyers or doctors. It’s sad to know that if you’re born poor, the idea of having big goals and dreams for your life never crosses your mind; poverty itself breeds low self-esteem, and you feel helpless to have a good quality of life, to get a college education, to have a nice house, to dream….

I believe that somehow Children International teaches these families that life has many options besides simply continuing to survive in poverty. Through the work of the medical staff and the field officers, these types of families become aware that they can create changes in their lives and that they can plan the kind of life they want for their children and for themselves.”

Check out the story and its accompanying slideshow at starting Tuesday, October 16…and if you find the story to be thought provoking, why not come back to the blog and share your thoughts in a comment under this post?


Anonymous said...

Its great to get some insight into these families, without your writing here, on the blog or on the web, people would never know about these families or it even cross peoples minds that someone could still be living this way in yr 2007!...
i think it would be great if you could set up some kind of website where people could go to donate to and see the progress and the before and after pictures of these see that some good can be done with a few people grouping together!

evergreen3 said...

I agree with anonymous that if we had some sort of webpage that would list what is needed and how much it will cost to make various improvements, and then provide photographs or other documentation to show how the families lives have improved. This may go far in attracting more donations. Perhaps doing something like Aura's House should be the approach? We don't always know what the exchange rate is for the dollar compared to the currency in the country described in the blog. When I've given in the past to these special projects I'm amazed at how many improvements, even a small donation can make in the families lives.

evergreen3 said...

What has been done for the Munoz famiy of Jalisco in the past several weeks? I'm interested in helping the family, but cannot do it alone, at least not for several months, but could provide some immediate support perhaps sponsoring a child if any are not sponsored, or providing food or clothing.

evergreen3 said...

Thanks Alejandro and Kelly. I began sponsoring Monica, the youngest Munoz child this week. I'm providing some support for Christmas and other immediate needs of this family. Hopefully I can do something about their housing situation early next year.