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Bringing Comfort to the Barranca Dwellers

By Isabelle

Beaming kindergartners with free books distributed by (L–R) Janet, Isabelle, and Andre, Mexico

The Sponsor a Book team of volunteers has been steadily growing, and last year two Family International singing groups added a lively musical component to our distribution programs.

The events were held in some of the poorest areas of Mexico City, in what are called barrancas, ravines right in the middle of the city where the poor have built their precarious homes. The houses are constructed layer upon layer on the edge of the cliffs, without planning or safety precautions, and it is not uncommon for houses to crumble on their inhabitants. Crime and drugs are rife in these areas, and we were told we would need police protection while holding the distributions. At dusk, the City Hall staff and the police urged us to leave quickly, as the streets were too dangerous to stay any longer.

The most rewarding comment came from one of the local organizers, himself a barranca dweller: "Thank you for coming and giving books to our children. Many of us here feel abandoned, but you remember us, and that makes us feel special!"

We also organized shows and distributions in medical facilities, including a modern clinic for disadvantaged children with cancer. Many young leukemia victims had been there for months, and we spent a lot of time comforting and counseling them and their parents. We held another distribution in a nursery for children of single mothers, where an enthusiastic crowd of over 100 adorable kids cheered our hearts at least as much as we cheered theirs.

Originally Published in 2007.