Hope, Faith and Country...
Last night I was talking to my cousin who along with her three grown children and their families live in Cd. Juarez, Chihuahua across the border from El Paso, Texas. We were discussing the horrific mass killing of 72 innocent people in the small town of San Fernando Tamaulipas, Mexico which borders southeastern Texas. She spoke of the disintegration of the family and the country's partiotic fiber of courage and resolve.
Armida (my cousin) is a very beautiful woman - inside and out. At 4 foot 8 inches and just over 120lbs. she is a tough and courageous woman who you'll find always working around her neighborhood, to make it a safer place to live. She even started a neighborhood watch program a few months ago and with their daily donations have hired a private security service to keep their neighborhood safer. They were also able to add another layer of security by paying to have huge boulders set at the entrance of several streets off the main streets into their neighborhood.
She said their lives had become extremely stressful and that she and her children and their spouses had a daily routine they followed closely; they all call each other upon leaving for work each morning, call each other again when they've reached their offices or place of work, once again during the day and then twice in the afternoon, upon leaving their offices and again when they've reached their homes safely later that evening.
As courageous as she is, one can sense that Armida lives in fear - no terror... a terror that on a daily basis steals her peace of mind, her sleep and has even stolen her dreams of seeing her grandchildren grow up in a happier and safer Cd. Juarez. I asked her if she had ever thought of leaving Juarez, of moving away to a safer city in Mexico.
She quickly answered "No" and with much conviction in her voice told me why, "Tomas, I was born and raised here, and all of my children and their families were also born and raised here. Our homes are here, as are our jobs, our friends, our relatives and our church are all here. These criminals can't and won't run us off. This is our city, our country and our life."
I asked her about our cousin's murder and how it had affected her.
"Roberto's death has been very hard to take, he was an amazing man and father to his children. But we must not allow his death to have been in vain. He always spoke of a better Juarez. We all want the same. I know that Life itself will be worth living as long as we have each other and together working toward a safer, more secure and peaceful Juarez. Our goal is to not give up, to continue to have Hope, show Faith in our government and the parts of society that respect law and desire a better life. We must teach our young people to live each day with self respect, dignity and courage."
We spoke for a about an hour and throughout the conversation I sensed that her conviction had plotted the course and was defining her journey.
She also said something that has stayed with me, "Living is about not giving up, it is the only way to one's own victory."
Knowing Armida as I have all my life, I know that she is relying on her own internal resources, her moral and spiritual core. What matters most to her is regaining the life once promised to her and her family. To be able to weigh down the scale, on the side of country with Hope and Faith.
I am amazed at her courage and though the situation in Mexico is dire and extremely troubling. I know that her courage flows from the heart. Whose small flow of indignation and resolve will deepen its channel and one day become a powerful spring.
I am proud of Armida and her family, as they've chosen to stay. Thousands of families have already left the city. I am in awe of their courageousness. Armida is the quiet hero in this battle. She works to contribute to the safety and security of her neighbors and her city.
Never seeking praise or reward. Armida is important in the ongoing battle to take Mexico back. I pray that she can one day see that her contributions have paved the path for a different Cd. Juarez and a different country, her country... a Mexico free of violence.
It will take many more Armidas to one day make this a reality. I pray that Armida and the rest of my family remains out of harm's way. I look forward to the day when we can all walk safely down Avenida Juarez, like we did joyfully less then three years ago.
Make it a prayer filled dia!