The Beast of a Day-may 12th

The day started off by heading to a Maquila. The company was called Denticon. They employed around 70 people and they specialized in the creation of dentures and other mouth appliances. This Maquila pays anywhere from 200-1200 pesos per day of work. After a discussion with the manager we got a chance to tour the facility and see the working conditions. We talked with a few employees and saw their work, which the manager stressed was only able to be done by people that were very skilled. Particularly those that worked in the porcelain department. They worked to match the colour of the fake teeth to those of the persons actual teeth. It seemed quite difficult and time consuming. As a person in the process of getting some fake teeth, it was weird to think that they may come from a facility such as this.
After going to the Maquila we went to the Maquila association. There we met with people who lobbied on behalf of the 99 Maquilas in Nogales. They heavily supported Maquilas in Nogales and believed they were the way to create economic sustainability in the region. Currently Maquilas in Nogales employ approximately 35,000 people. They believe anyone that wants a job in Nogales can have one, because of Maquilas. They believe anyone without a job has chosen that route, there are always jobs in the Maquilas. This association also prides themselves on their role in community development. They have put about 1.3 million dollars back into the Nogales community. Through supporting government initiatives they helped to create fire departments, schools and other social infrastructure. They did however leave out of the discussion the fact that they lobbied on behalf of the Maquilas, not the workers. They also failed to highlight issues of workers rights in the workplace. Or the lack of knowledge workers have on their rights as workers. He did make them seem quite grand in theory, but failed to portray Maquilas as accountable businesses. We had already heard the story of Legacy, a Maquila that shut down and took all of their equipment out one weekend. When people came to work the next week they had no jobs and no equipment. Although they seemed to have had some great hard facts about what the Maquilas were doing in the community. Relationally we could still see places where they were lacking. This encounter left many of us with many questions.
After lunch we had to set up for kids camp. But no kids arrived! So we trucked around the streets for a while yelling at kids telling them to come to HEPAC. It was quite a sight to see. It was nothing like I had ever seen. After creating a sufficient group of about 30 kids we started the camp. There were sports, music and crafts aspects of the camp. Joel, Thomas and I ran the sports aspect of the camp and that was a blast. We played soccer with lots of kids all with varying levels of intensity. After getting called gringo a few times after missing passes we probably should have had, the camp was done. After a short little break it was time for supper.
After supper we immediately headed to a migrant shelter called San Juan Bosco Albegue. There were many migrants there who all had very different stories. We had the chance to hear some of their stories in smaller groups of about 3 or 4 people. One very compelling story I heard was that of Christian and Dennis who were 16 and 19 years old. They had come from El Salvador via “the beast”. A train that travels all through Mexico. They had a 26 day journey riding on top of this train. Along the way they had struggles though. While riding the train one night Dennis struck a power line and was electrocuted. He said he remembered nothing of the event and was unconscious for a few hours atop the train. His cousin Christian took care of him on top of the train. Dennis had electrical burns all over his shoulder and side of his head. After the group prayed with them we left the shelter and came back for sleep. It was a very long day.

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