Friday, September 16, 2016

"I Will Move Mountains To Be With You"

The shirt reads "I will move mountains to be with you."
The drawing asks, "Where are they?"
It is hard to believe that it is going to be two years on September 26 that 43 students from the teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa were disappeared—and it’s even harder to believe that the families of the young men are no closer to knowing what happened than they were two years ago. The logo on the shirt of one of the fathers expresses the determination of the family members: “I will move mountains to be with you.”
A march in Tlapa by family members, friends, and supporters of the 43 disappeared students
The families attempt every avenue (including marches, as in the photo above, and Masses, as in the photo below) so that the government will investigate every possibility to determine exactly what happened that night of September 26, 2014, but it has been like running into a brick wall. Just this past week the government’s lead investigator, who is accused of planting false evidence so that everyone would think that the 43 were burned at a remote garbage dump in Cocula (a theory debunked by a committee of international experts), was named a member of the federal government’s National Security Council. That is not exactly an encouraging sign for the families and those who support them.
The 22nd anniversary of the Tlachiinollan Human Rights Center began with a Mass in Tlapa
for the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa and their families
One of the organizations that has most supported the families of the Ayotzinapa students has been the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Mountain. Tlachinollan recently celebrated its twenty-second anniversary. The founding director, Abel Barrera (theologian and anthropologist), is one of the most respected spokespersons for the causes of the indigenous peoples in the mountains, and he and Tlachinollan have received several international awards. Mission Mexico is honored to partner with Tlachinollan in some of its projects.
Abel Barrera with Father Juan: Abel with Bidulfo, one of Tlachinollan's lawyers;
Abel with Arturo (singer and poet and activist, from Cuernavaca) and Mike
September is also the month in which the Champagnat High School of the Mountain, located in the village of Potoichan, opened its doors again for another academic year. An extension to the dormitory for women meant that eighteen more young women could study there this year; the total number of students is presently 258. The school is specifically designed for indigenous students who come from impoverished families in villages where there is no high school. Mission Mexico helped to build this school, and it continues to support the school in different ways.
News students at the high school; Mike with Marist Brother Salvador, who has worked at the school
 since it opened in 2004; Yarabi and Nohemi check out the new dormitory
The rainy season continues, and the roads seem to get worse and worse. There are days when no travel is possible, due to landslides or roads simply being washed away. And there are other days that the mud makes downhill and uphill travel rather difficult. But such is “normal” life here in the mountains.
Photos taken on September 14...the road to Zitlaltepec and San Marcos
For example, on Wednesday I went to San Marcos to bring Juana to Tlapa so that the doctors could check her burnt foot. The doctors are pleased with the healing process, although they did remove yesterday the bones on a couple of her toes. On Sunday I will bring Juana back to her village. The five photos above show parts of the road that I traveled on Tuesday. I am hoping that the roads will be no worse on Sunday. The Mission Mexico truck comes in handy for medical situations like this one.
Juana at home; one sees her mother and father and brother and little cousins 
And last weekend I went to Mexico City to visit Edgar, the young man who fell down a ravine on April 29 while bringing school supplies to children in the impoverished indigenous village of Aguaxoco. Four and a half months later, Edgar has more freedom with his upper-body movements, but he still has no sensation below the waist, and he still can't sit up at a 90-degree angle. Mission Mexico helps with some costs and assists some of Edgar’s poor friends from the mountains so that they can visit him (and encourage him) in Mexico City. Today happens to be his 23rd birthday. Happy Birthday, Edgar.
Edgar on September 11; the CAT scan from September 4 shows
how serious his injury is
Another priest arrived this week to join the pastoral team in Xochitepec. Father Hector (nicknamed Tato) has joined Fathers Juan and Vicente in accompanying the mephaa indigenous people in the 28 villages of that isolated area of the mountains. Mission Mexico supports this pastoral team in its efforts to work with the people for a life with greater dignity and justice.
Father Juan, Father Tato, Father Vicente—from a congregation called
Missionaries of the Holy spirit (MSpS)
And the violence continues. Another fine young man (and friend), Francisco, was recently murdered. Francisco’s sister and her husband and their two children are among my closest friends here. What can one say at times like this? Just “being there” is probably more important than any words that can be expressed.
Francisco, the friendliest and kindest person one might hope to meet—recently murdered
So life goes on. Tomorrow I will visit a sewing cooperative operated by a group of students studying accounting here in Tlapa. The students come from different villages and wanted to support the poorer families in their villages. So Mission Mexico helped them to buy a couple of sewing machines and some initial materials, and they are now busy producing school uniforms, dresses, shirts, etc. Maybe I will have photos from that cooperative in my next blog. Thank you, everyone who supports Mission Mexico. Enjoy the rest of this month of September.
An early-morning sunrise in the mountains

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