This is part 1 of a series of stories to introduce you to the real lives of the women of San Miguel.
Picturesque San Miguel Valley with Ajusco in the background
Meet Guille, Eusebia, Lidia and Gloria. Women living in San Miguel, a barrio on the sw edge of Mexico City, with real life drama big enough to compete with a certain namesake. The lives are real, the drama is big, and the stakes are too. These women are too busy surviving in a community where they have to fight for the right to have water, services, land, homes to live in, education for their families, and more, than to give a thought to fast cars, haute couture and mani-pedi’s.
My last day in DF found me in the heat of a community story that was playing out in real time as I sat for an amazing lunch set out by the ladies. I have visited this community a number of times during my past 2 trips to work with Isla Urbana, an organization that works to provide water through rainwater harvesting systems (RHS). However, Isla Urbana do so much more, they know the families they work with in a much deeper way than one might think. Jenny White, one of the directors has been visiting Guille and families in this community weekly over the past few years, and has come to be very nearly a part of the family; babies are often named after this woman! She knows their life stories, their trials and tribulations, and every way in which they have had to struggle and overcome in order to make their lives better.
We walked through the breathtakingly beautiful San Miguel, the Ajusco as a backdrop, picture perfect with cornfields and a valley. In this area where community members have scraped together enough money to buy small plots of land, only to have the district deny their right to “be” in what they term an illegal or irregular zone, you can see both the beauty and the struggle of life. Homes have been built, families raised, and still the basic services have been hard won. Water is a huge issue, and so the community banned together under the guidance of Guille Morales Alazar, a women who has become somewhat of a role model, a community leader in her own right. When there is a problem, the women in this community look to Guille for guidance.
Guille heard about RHS, and wanted one installed in her home, she now helps to organize other families so that they too can have enough water for their households. Jenny While has been working the region, organizing for installs, educating families on the use of the RHS, and so knows intimately the status quo in this valley.
Next instalment: “Guille – community matters”
2. San Miguel
3. Guille (left) gives advice
5. Lidia waves from her front gate
7. Ladies Lunching together with Jenny White and Guilles grandaughter with friend
8. Walking through the valley in San Miguel