Living in Juarez was always a wonderful adventure for me, so when in 2010 I felt the city calling me to walk its streets again I didn’t stop to think it through. I grabbed my backpack, left the countryside, and arrived at my lovely city, at this time known as “one of the most violent cities in the world.” I arrived in the middle of a war. I could feel the city reaching out to me trying to break out of its silence, but the roaring sound of the tanks and gunshots shut it out. I sat in the ghostly stillness of the night trying to understand what an ordinary person like myself could do for such a wounded city. Well the answers came.
While many people were running away leaving everything behind, there was a group of women who were not ready to give up just yet. They were the mothers, the aunts and the sisters of the murdered children. They were grieving women holding their heads up high, holding a flag of forgiveness. And even though their whole body was aching in pain, they were standing up, ready to fight this war with the most powerful of all weapons, love.
We were in the middle of a tremendous war with extortions, shootings, kidnaps, car bombs; it was years stained with blood of many innocent people who “got in the way.”
In 2010, the state prosecutors reported more than 3000 deaths in the city. And even though one would imagine these women running away, they weren’t. The were coming out dressed in white, marching in silence, holding hands with their families and other families, marching for peace. They were coming out speaking in conferences about peace and responsibility, and everyone’s’ important role in the city. They were coming out praying with other grieving families. They were coming out reaching out to the teenagers left in the city, trying to make sure they would not get recluted by the drug cartels. They were coming out yes with fear in every bone in their body, but the love they felt for the people in the city was much greater than any fear. Their children were brave children, loving children, and they wanted to honor their memories. These honorable women and the men who joined all became my family. Sowers of Peace. We worked alongside other organizations in the city rebuilding brick by brick our fallen city. Fire, bombs, and tanks could tear down our buildings, but they were not going to bring our spirits down.
We became a ghost city, many people left, but when you heard a mother of a murdered child speak about love, peace and responsibility, you had no choice but to raise your hand and say where do I sign.
We went to schools, community centers, peoples homes, we prayed with them, gave them therapy, conferences, workshops, and got the most wonderful reward, a city rising in love, compassion and unity.
Today after years of hardship I cannot say the city is free of violence, but I am proud to say from being one of the most violent cities in the world it became the most resilient city in the world.
The city is alive again rising strong and hopeful.
This city is my home, and weather in peace or war; I’ve learned the biggest lessons here, that in the midst of a war only love conquers.