Teenagers Report on Maclovio Rojas Project
In Tijuana, Mexico

By Anthony Manousos

The high point of my summer [in 1997] was taking a group of thirty people--seventeen teenagers and thirteen adults--down to Mexico to help in a poor community near Tijuana called Maclovio Rojas. Going to this community was a disturbing reminder of  the "savage inequality" that exists between rich and poor in today's world. The community that we helped consists of 1200 families--most of whom are forced to work in the local factories for $3 per day. They have no running water, no electricity, and no paved roads. Most of their homes are made of scrap, the favorite building material being used garage doors.

Even though we were less than two hours' drive from San Diego, one of our teens said that going to this community was like encountering an alien planet.
Over the week, we worked side-by-side with the people of Maclovio Rojas. We put up sheet rock in a day care center. We dug holes and mixed cement to put up playground equipment. We purchased books and helped to set up their library. We painted murals. As we worked and sweated alongside our Mexican brothers and sisters, they came to seem less than aliens, and more like

  At the end of the week, our
amigos wanted to throw a party for us. We told them that it wasn't necessary, that we had brought our own food, but they insisted, so we had a potluck, Mexican-style, with music and dancing that went on from three in the afternoon until eleven o'clock at night. I can't tell you how many times we danced the macarena!
At Maclovio Rojas, it was painfully clear that the rich and the poor are all too often separated by barriers of social class and prejudice, but it was also clear that this is not what our Creator desires. When I saw affluent U.S. Americanos and poor Mexicanos working and sharing food and dancing and having a good time together, I said to myself, "So this is what Jesus meant when he said that God's blessed community is like a party where everyone is invited--rich and poor, holy ones and outcasts. When Jesus was on earth, he partied with the poor. He shared in their joys and their sorrows. When he said  that heaven is within us, and among us, he was speaking out of his actual experience. We don't have to wait until we die to see heaven. It's right here, if we open our hearts and our pocketbooks to those in need."
I am grateful to those Friends who are laboring to lower the barriers that separate us from our brothers and sisters to the South.  In this issue,  you can read the impressions of the Quaker youth who went on our trip to Maclovio Rojas.  You can also read the report of Carin Anderson, who brought tears to our eyes when she spoke at Pacific Yearly Meeting about her work in El Salvador.  An insert describes the efforts of Roberto Martinez and the AFSC Border Committee to monitor human rights abuses at the border.  We are indeed blessed that so many Friends are putting their Quaker faith into practice. 

Report of Teens and Adult Helpers at Maclovio Rojas

At the end of August, seventeen teens and thirteen adults participated in a weeklong workcamp at Maclovio Rojas, a homesteaders' community in Mexico near Tijuana.  This project was sponsored by Southern California Quarter and the AFSC. Here are some reports:

Spending a week doing this service project is what really makes an infinite amount of difference. The lifestyle of Maclovio Rojas residents is so foreign to me (being middle class and white) that if I spent only one weekend on this project, I would not have come away with quite so much. When I first came to Maclovio Rojas, it seemed like an alien planet.
This experience has changed my perspective utterly and given new fire to old convictions. That these projects speak to the heart of Quakerism is beyond all doubt.--Holly Summers, Quaker youth from La Jolla.

When I first saw the community of Maclovio Rojas from the back seat of a car, the sight took my breath away. Along the way, I saw some of the houses. Most were made of old garage doors and various ill-fitting pieces of plywood. Despite the drabness of the homes and the area, I found Maclovio Rojas a very beautiful place.
During the week, we all pulled together and worked as a group to get things done. Sometimes the young children would come and help in any way they could. In the evenings when they were off work, some of the youth from the community would come work with us. When it would get too dark to continue working, we would stand around and communicate as well as we could given the language barrier. It was awfully funny at times when we could figure out exactly what was being