Saturday, July 23, 2016

"There Is an Emergency Happening All the Time"

The mountain mist covers a world of darkness and light, sadness and joy
When a disaster strikes, the emotional centers of our brain flare up: we think— emergency! We forget there is an emergency happening all the time, because we’ve grown accustomed to everyday emergencies like disease and poverty and oppression.
-       MacAskill, William. Doing Good Better: How Effective Altruism Can Help You Make a Difference (p. 60). Penguin Publishing Group

The journey to a new future is not an easy one
Life goes on in the mountains here in Mexico. There are emergencies happening all the time, but there are lots of signs of hope too. The peasant farmers are presently quite happy with the rainy season that began in June. The question always is, though: Will it last? The rainy season is supposed to continue to the month of October, but dry spells have not been uncommon in recent years.
I love driving in the rain...and music from the Trinitarian Sisters of Mary, in Tijuana, is nice too
July is the month when school vacations begin, and I have been invited to many school graduation ceremonies. In a region that has about 700 villages, I couldn’t accept all of the invitations. The graduation ceremony at the Champagnat High School of the Mountain, in the village of Potoichán, was a special occasion. Eighty students graduated this year. A lot of tears flowed, but the pride of the parents was evident. Mission Mexico partners with the Marist Brothers of Mexico in helping to offer quality education to indigenous students from impoverished villages where no high school exists.
Marist Brother Salvador Gonzalez (Cepillo) has been at the Champagnat High School
of the Mountain since its founding in 2004 and is loved by all
Abel Barrera, the director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain (another partner of Mission Mexico), was guest speaker at the closing ceremony of the CIESA High School in Tlapa. He encouraged the students to be grateful for the sacrifice of their parents, to be proud to be from the mountain of Guerrero, and to strive throughout their lives to help create a society in which all people can live with dignity, justice, and hope. In a way, he asked the students (using the words of the initial quote in this blog) to not grow accustomed to the “everyday emergencies” of disease and poverty and oppression that are so prevalent here.
Abel Barrera with Ita Meztli; Ita graduated with a 9.8 average
It is always nice to see families actually celebrating an achievement of a family member. So many sacrifices are involved in educating children. There is an intense struggle going on in the whole country of Mexico right now regarding an “educational reform” that was passed as law in 2013 but has yet to be implemented. One Mexican intellectual, Adolfo Gilly, suggests that implementing the “educational reform” would be “selling the soul of the nation to Big Money” (La Jornada newspaper, June 22, 2016).
Two proud mothers at the kindergarten graduation in Xochitepec
Mission Mexico will continue to accompany these impoverished families as they struggle in so many different ways to create life in a situation of so many challenges. Thanks go out to all of the Canadians who support this valiant effort by these noble people. Your solidarity is making a difference in lives here.
Mike and some friends in Tlacoapa
PS: A blast from the past...The other day I was in the village of Xalatzala. In the summer of 1980 a group of high school students came with me to Mexico to visit Father Lawrence Moran, CSB. We stayed in the village of Tototepec, and one of our summer tasks was to paint the interior of the church in Xalatzala. Luis Flores (now living in Calgary) installed the first electrical lights in the church. The people in Xalatzala still remember their first experience with Canadians back then.
The church in Xalatzala as it appears today
PPS: Several people have asked me how my friend Edgar Peralta Silva is doing since his tragic fall on the mountainside almost two months ago (described in my blog on May 11, 2016). Edgar is staying at a brother's house in Mexico City and is still receiving therapy. He can sit up in bed now, but he still has no feeling below his waist. Hope never dies.
Edgar in his brother's house in Mexico City

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