Carlos Chavira (also known as Chavira
) is a ten-block colonia
on the east side of Juarez. The colonia came into existence in the spring of 2002
through a traumatic and tumultuous series of events. On the outskirts of Juarez, the Mexican government removed a group of squatters
from the land that they had been living on. Police forcibly evicted the squatters in the middle of the night. As they left their houses with what they could transport, some fought with the police; others set their houses on fire
in futile protest. For a month, the evicted squatters moved from shelter to shelter within the city. The government eventually gave each family a 6 meter by 20 meter plot of land
, freshly bulldozed, along with 20 pallets
- on the condition that they would eventually pay for the land. This land - and these people - became the colonia known as Carlos Chavira.
Looking out over Carlos Chavira at sunset.
Timothy Gamwell, the director of Life Challenge International, began visiting and working with the people of Carlos Chavira later that spring and throughout the next year. In the summer of 2004, People Building People (in cooperation with LCI) built a large two story community center. The center has served as a medical clinic, classroom, and a public meeting space - and continues to serve the community. In the fall of 2004, David Kaufmann moved to a house in Carlos Chavira and since then has been the primary LCI representative in the community and has the responsibility of coordinating programs in the neighborhood. David and his wife, Jen Kaufmann, continue to head LCI's activities in Chavira.
In Mexico, compulsory education ends at sixth grade; for a large number of Chavira's youth, sixth grade will be their last year in school (if they get that far). As a result, the streets of the neighborhood are filled with drop-outs. What in the beginning may have seemed like an endless summer to the children soon becomes unending monotony. There is little work for these teenagers, and the end result is that they spend their days or walking the streets. Soon, however, these youth - boys and girls alike - turn to more destructive patterns of drugs, alcohol, violence, and promiscuity. Teenage pregnancy is an accepted and now normalized practice for girls as young as fourteen.
Carlos Chavira, via Wikimapia
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