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Discovery: Peacework in Mexico

Doug Smith
On Needs (May 2015)

Dear Editor:  I was greatly interested in Burton Housman’s article, “Between Two Civilizations” in the Jan/Feb issue.  I was one of seven Quakers (four Californians, one each from New York, New Mexico, and Nevada) who attended the first Quaker Social Action in Mexico Learning Tour hosted by the Casa de los Amigos team in Mexico City in January this year.  During our nine days there, we learned much about the critical humanitarian work, peace programs, and partnering done by their dedicated, bright, enthusiastic staff and volunteers.

For me, the Tour was particularly enlightening (and sobering).  For a supposedly educated American and long-time Quaker, I was very ill informed on the current state of things in Mexico.  My learning curve was steep, but at the same time, the entire experience was so exciting and fulfilling that I returned home strongly desirous of sharing my “discoveries.” 

Among the many groups we met with:

  • Heurto Romita – A group who have created a center for urban agriculture in the City
  • Flor de Mazahua – Indigenous Women’s Co-op, a Casa partner for over 20 years
  • Collective SubVersiones – Journalism in Mexico is incredibly dangerous, yet this group of volunteers risks their lives to reveal injustices and to promote worthy causes
  • Los Otros Dreamers – Young people who are deported to Mexico from the U.S., often with no family, language skills, or resources
  • Tochan - A local migrant shelter which the Casa helped create

The work and achievements of the Casa folks are incredibly inspiring for those of us who, as Quakers, believe in change for the betterment of all people.  We should be proud of the Casa, and search for ways to support their efforts, and perhaps to coordinate actions in furtherance of their causes with ours.

I honestly feel that every Quaker in the USA should attempt to visit the Casa de los Amigos in Mexico City.  To paraphrase Casa staff, “[Come visit] the rootinest-tootinest, most fun, most exciting place in the world; over half a century of peacework in our beloved gritty city.”

– Doug Smith, Reno Friends Meeting (PYM)

Mexico Cooperative Journalism Migrants learning Culture

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