Last November, I traveled to the state of Chihuahua in Mexico. Because of A Chance In Life's reputation as an advocate for vulnerable children, I had been invited by local organizations to explore possible partnerships in support of the child victims of ‘narco-trafficantes’.
The trip was emotionally intense as I visited juvenile prisons, rehabilitation centers for teenagers trying to recover from drug addictions, and homes for orphans who had lost their parents to the drug wars. One of the most poignant moments was meeting with the Tarahumara people (or Rarámuri, as they call themselves), a group of indigenous people living in the state of Chihuahua. They are renowned for their long-distance running ability, and have produced some of the best long-distance marathoners in the world. In fact, Rarámuri means "runners on foot" or "those who run fast" in their native language.
In the past several decades, the Tarahumara people have faced increasing environmental and human threats to their existence and traditional way of life. The Sierra Madre region has been particularly hard hit by drought in the past ten years, decimating crops and livestock and forcing Tarahumaras to become migrant workers in other regions to provide for their families. Those who choose to resettle permanently in cities such as Juarez and Chihuahua City often live in settlements lacking safe drinking water or sewers. (You can read about my somber experience visiting one of these settlements last December here.)
The drug cartels in Chihuahua have capitalized on the Tarahumaras' vulnerability, pressuring them to grow poppy instead of their traditional crops and recruiting young people - even children - as cartel members and drug runners.¹ While in Chihuahua, I also visited a juvenile prison. What moved me the most was a group of early teenage girls (most of them Tarahumaras) serving time for homicide. They were recruited by the cartels and forced to commit despicable crimes, mostly under the influence of drugs. As I wrote to you in December, I was moved by their desire to do something good for others when they were released from prison. It was painful to see children as young as fourteen years old in prison, unable to remember how long they had been there.
Our organization was built on the principle that wherever there is a child in need, we should be there. That is why A Chance In Life began supporting El Voluntariado de AtenciónaVíctimas y Ofendidos del Delito del Estado de Chihuahua, a volunteer organization supporting victims of crimes in the State of Chihuahua, in 2019. The program covers basic needs and promotes a culture of care for vulnerable Tarahumara families and children. This includes sixty young girls, the majority of whom are orphans. (Our program partners have seen a dramatic increase in need for their services in recent months as the pandemic exacerbates existing poverty and hunger - you can hear more about their challenges from Señora Todos los Santos Dolores Villalobos Vigil here as part of our En Primera Persona series.)
Year after year, Tarahumara communities have watched the opportunities for their children to lead a happy and successful lives grow smaller and smaller.
You can change that. Today.
You can give a chance in life to a vulnerable child in Mexico by becoming a monthly supporter of this program. A monthly gift of $30 ($1 a day) will help us continue to provide young women in the community with food supplies, educational resources, social support and psychological care.
We all have received a chance in our lives at some point. During these difficult times, we have a chance to give back and help an unknown vulnerable child who will remember you forever.
 The World, Mexico's indigenous Raramuri have been suffering at the hands of narcos for decades