Category Archives: Chimalhuacán

Launched our work here in 2006

ACJU launches new faith community for youth

Exciting things were happening in the ACJU Deportivo project last month! The project has impacted these youth to such a degree that several responded to an invitation to create their own small faith community in collaboration with the Comunidad Mosaico project. Staff expected to launch the group with 5 to 6 key youth leaders, but 11 ACJU participants showed up to the first meeting. In addition to creating a space where youth can re-think and rebuild their relationship with the Lord, ACJU staff will also use this time to work on developing them as leaders who will have a positive impact on other youth, their families, and the community at large.

This fledgling faith community met for the first time on October 25, and will continue to meet every other Saturday for the time being. The 11 youth who attended all committed to continue their attendance, and the idea is that over time more ACJU Deportivo participants will join in.

One of the primary topics of discussion was the importance of youth leadership. The youth talked about how important it is to change your way of thinking and not give in to peer pressure. They also discussed how important it is to follow your dreams, even if people put you down or criticize you, so that you can have a fuller, more dignified life. Some of the youth shared their dreams, along with some of the obstacles they are facing.

bible study 2One gratifying moment occurred when some of the youth expressed their desire to reproduce some of what ACJU Deportivo is doing with the project, working with youth and forming soccer schools, so that other youth from slum communities don’t fall into using drugs, alcohol and violence and are motivated to continue their education. One young man of 18 said, “I dream about being a professional soccer player. However, if that doesn’t happen for one reason or another, my other dream is to work with youth and create a soccer school like what you are doing. I want to help so that less youth get caught up in drugs.”

Another youth, 20 years old, said “I really like soccer, and I don’t know because of my age if I could think about playing professionally, but I know I want to coach youth, help them and create a project like the one you are doing here.”

At ConeXión Mosaico, we look at the lives of our participants from a holistic perspective. We do not just seek to share the Good News of spiritual liberation, while neglecting the very real issues impacting urban slum dweller’s lives. By creating youth leaders who are motivated to serve others and make positive changes in their community, we believe that people can live more dignified, abundant lives on earth here and now.

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Family Club participation gives grandmother a new sense of purpose

The goal of the ProSalud Project is to create a holistic community health model that will help families to develop healthier overall lifestyles. ProSalud carries out many of its activities through enrollment in Family Clubs. Some of the main goals of the Family Clubs are to provide participants with health education and increase social capital. Family Clubs help to build social cohesion by creating opportunities for friendship, reflection and trust, primarily for women… although in the last few months ProSalud has also seen men asking to join the Family Clubs for the first time.

taller de alimentacion- agosto 2014Irma, who is 78 years old and has diabetes, began participating in a Family Club about 2 months ago. Her niece suggested that she check out the Club, since Irma was suffering from depression and her niece thought it would do her good.  Irma has been the sole caretaker of her grandson since he was a baby when his mother, who did not have the means to support him, left him in her care.  Now, at 16 years old, her grandson is more independant and spends less time with her.  After spending so much of her time caring for him, Irma was feeling lonely and un-needed.

In the last couple of months that she has been attending the Family Club, Irma said that she is feeling much better. She has made a lot of new friends and doesn’t worry so much on her illness anymore.  She is also helping teach the other Club participants some of ther hobbies, which has helped her feel useful, appreciated and important again.  In fact, just recently she commented to the group that it is never too late to learn new things and to keep on living an active and dignified life.

Mosaic Pieces Fitting Together

It’s July and that means one thing at ConeXión Mosaico: youth and children’s summer camps! As always, we count on volunteer teams from our U.S. partner churches to make these programs happen. These energetic teams come down to spend a week or two with us, learning about the challenges of urban poverty firsthand as they spend time with the people from the communities where we work.

This year we have the largest number of U.S. volunteers we have ever had, with 51 total visitors scheduled to stay with us during the month of July. This unprecedented number of helping hands will allow us to work with multiple age groups in four different communities during the three weeks of programmed activities.

DSC00886 editGroups from Brooklyn, NY, and Lafayette, CO, will join with ConeXión Mosaico staff in working with children from 5 to 12 years old in San José Palmas and two different San Sebastián neighborhoods. Meanwhile, additional project staff will host activities for youth and women in Chimalhuacán. The U.S. teams will also help out doing construction and landscaping work on the site of our future Las Palmas community center.

While all this is going on, a team from Cambridge, MA, will be working with our Executive Director, Jean-Luc Krieg, to create a video of what is happening at ConeXión Mosaico. Lastly, a group of local ‘lucha libre’ wrestlers have agreed to donate their time and talents to stage an exhibition match on the final day of activities, an unaccustomed treat for the children and youth from these communities.

Stay tuned next month to hear about all of our exciting summer activities!

ACJU Deportivo youth make new choices on and off the field

ACJU Deportivo has been working with youth in Chimalhuacán as they attend practices at our soccer school and play against other teams. Not only have their technical skills improved, but they have gained more confidence and tactical abilities as a team. Even more importantly, these youth have shown an increased attitude of respect and teamwork towards each other. They have begun to watch their language and control their impulses more during the games. The one-on-one mentoring process has given the youth greater confidence in the team and in their own abilities, which has allowed them to compete against stronger teams more enthusiastically and without feeling so intimidated.

One of the youth who has been receiving one-on-one mentoring is Rolando, a young leader who has shown a desire to serve others. Thanks to his participation on the team, the friendships he has developed and the introspection he has gained through mentoring, Roland has become excited about the idea of going back to high school. He dropped out of school partially due to economic concerns, but also in large part because he had become involved in circles where there was a lot of drugs and alcohol. Now Rolando wants to work for a few months over the summer in order to save up enough money to be able to go back to school in the fall.

ACJU participants choose to look for alternatives to using violence

In urban slums, one often finds a culture which promotes using aggression and violence as a primary means for resolving disagreements. Tamara, a young woman of 18, is all too familiar with this world. Tamara lives in Chimalhuacán with her partner, Raúl, and attends hairstyling classes at ACJU’s vocational training center. During the last few months, Tamara confided to ACJU staff that Raúl, a “moto-taxi” driver, had had an ongoing disagreement with someone he works with. The first confrontation led to Raúl being punched in the mouth. As the situation escalated, Raúl’s colleague sent a gang of friends to assault him while he was working and, when that attempt failed, to look for him at home. Raúl’s family members, angry that the other man had assembled a group to attack Raúl, suggested that he put together his own group of friends to go the colleague’s home and beat up his family.

However, Tamara had been sharing with Raúl the things she was learning in the values component of her hairstyling classes. As a result, instead of responding to violence with more violence, Tamara and Raúl made the decision to report the incidents to the municipal authorities. Tamara commented to ACJU staff that she had determined to take no action that would incite violence in any way. As a result of the report, Raúl and his colleague were summoned to a mediation hearing, where the other man ended up apologizing for his actions and agreeing to leave Raúl and his family alone in the future.

ProSalud Family club members use crafting to create their own informal support group

On their own initiative, the participants from one of the most well-established ProSalud Family Clubs have organized a weekly crafting club amongst themselves. Before joining ProSalud, even though these women were neighbors, none of them really knew each other. However, as a result of interacting in their Family Club, the group has formed strong friendships which have increased their social cohesion both in and outside of ProSalud. At the crafting club, which sprang out of the women’s desire to create more opportunities for social interaction, each person shares her personal talents and abilities. For example, if one person knows how to embroidery, she will give the others a list of materials to buy and then teach the others how to embroidery.

However, the major impact on the group participants has not been the new abilities they have learned. Instead, the group has taken on the quality of an informal emotional support group. As they ostensibly come together to make crafts, participants relax, laugh, share what is going on their lives, get things off their chest and receive emotional support from the others.

groupsVIDA participants are now reaching out to friends and family members

In the last few months, gruposVIDA has been excited to see the impact the groups have been having, not only on the participants, but on the people in their lives. For example one participant, Laura, shared how her daughter-in-law had come to her asking for more information on what gruposVIDA was about. She had seen the participant manual in Laura’s house and wanted to share information about emotional healing with her mother, who was dealing with some very painful issues.   After Laura’s daughter-in-law spoke with her mother, the woman came to talk to Laura herself. Laura commented that she was excited to share the knowledge she has acquired in gruposVIDA: “It was so good for me! I used the things that I have learned when I was explaining my story to her, so that it would also help her to start opening up and dealing with her pain.”

Other participants have also commented that they have been sharing what they learned with other women and encouraging people who are going through difficult times. This is an exciting development for gruposVIDA because it is exactly what we hope to see as a result of this initiative. By helping direct participants heal emotionally, they in turn use the wisdom they have learned to reach out to others who are hurting.