things that matter

These Mexican Women Should Teach a Course on Kindness

Las patronas

When the Romero Vasquez sisters acted on instinct and gave some food to hungry immigrants on the roof of a train who were asking for food, they didn’t think much of it. They were just afraid their mother would be mad at them for giving away their breakfast.

Little did they know that 19 years later, with their mother’s help, their small act of kindness would become Las Patronas, a charitable organizations in Veracruz that’s helped thousands of migrants on their way to the United States.

And in 2013, they received Mexico’s most prestigious human rights prize, the Premio Nacional de Derechos Humanos 2013.

“We never expected it to turn into something so big,” said Guadalupe Gonzalez, a fellow patrona. “I think it’s because it came out of nowhere, it came from just the little that one can give.”

READ: The Real Life Risks Guatemala Immigrants Take to Make It to America

The women of Las Patronas cook rice, beans and tortillas and give them away with water to all the migrants coming from Honduras, El Salvador, Guatemala and Nicaragua.

And if you’re a migrant facing all the dangerous of the journey — drug cartels, gang violence, robbery, kidnapping, murder and even falling off the train to your death — Las Patronas is your pinch of hope on the perilous journey.

“We heard about them because they help us and give us food. Things like water, drinks, some tortillas and frijoles,” said Oscar, a young man making the journey from El Salvador. “They help you a lot with that, because sometimes you don’t have any food nor any money to buy anything.”

Learn more about the women of the organization and where the name Las Patronas comes from the BBC here.

Watch this short doc on Las Patronas:

Credit: Entre las cenizas / Vimeo

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Family is No Longer Man, Wife and Kids


Family is No Longer Man, Wife and Kids

Unwed mothers

Women all over Latin America are redefining what “family” means. For the majority of them, it means being an unwed mother. In fact, in Colombia, 84 percent of kids are born out of wedlock, and the numbers are similar in Mexico, Argentina and Chile.

“Things have really changed,” says María Mercedes Vittar, a human resources manager and single mother of two, to NPR. “Today, we women are a lot freer. We decide what we like and don’t like. We work. We are independent. And that gives us a lot of strength. We can do it alone if we have to.”

Her daughters, Azul, 3, and Lupita, 7 months, are from different fathers. Vittar is not romantically involved with either of them, but they’re both involved in their daughters’ lives. They even spend special occasions together, for example at Azul’s birthday, her dad attended with his ex-wife and their children, Azul’s half siblings.

READ: These are the 9 Most Devastating Things You Can Tell Mom

Vittar says that her family is a lot more than just her immediate relatives, it also includes her friends, fellow single mothers, Paola Fiorita, mother of  3-year-old Lucio, and Ana Zappella, mother of 2-year-old Ambar. The good thing is that this dynamic is so prevalent that it’s now accepted.

“Things have changed so radically that now there is a huge diversity that is deemed acceptable, and it is valued. You don’t have to get married like before to have a place in society,” says Maria Esther de Palma, president of the Argentine Society for Family Therapy to NPR.

Hmmm, maybe that’s why some will pay to attend a fake wedding in South America.

Read more about the new family dynamic in Latin America from NPR here.

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