La Mujer Obrera

About the Border Women

In Uncategorized on November 3, 2010 at 3:52 pm

Guadalupe

Originally from Acapulco, Mexico, Guadalupe migrated constantly during her childhood, eventually moving to Juarez. Like many migrant children, she did not have a stable education, and as a result she did not fully learn to read or write.

She moved out on her own and began to work at the age of 15. As a teenager, she crossed daily to do farm work in El Paso, where employers often withheld wages. She worked at an electronics factory in Juarez for four years. Then, still living in Juarez, she crossed the border everyday to work in El Paso at a gourmet restaurant.

Experience with violence on the border

Guadalupe still has family in Juarez, Mexico. Like many families whose members live on both sides of the border, El Paso-based family members delivered money to family members in in Juarez. Her family was extorted for a year and a half. “We worked so hard, just to see them take the money we made,” she said. Juarez police recently apprehended the extortionists. Luckily, her family was not physically harmed.

Building a hopeful future

Guadalupe began to work at Mercado Mayapán in 2009, first in the kitchen and then as a janitor. She had never worked somewhere where the workers themselves organized meetings and tried to build something greater. She is happy to work at La Mujer Obrera because she will have the opportunity to learn to read and write there.

“It’s never too late,” she beams.

Guadalupe wants to  educate decision makers in Washington, D.C., about border conditions.  “I think it’s good for us  to go and be heard.”

Maria

Born in El Paso, Maria grew up in Ciudad Juarez. She moved to El Paso at the age of 17. She found work at a garment factory making jeans, and worked in several more garment factories for over 16 years. She then worked cleaning homes. All of these work experiences were very isolating. “When I was sewing in a garment factory, I was focused on the work and meeting the quota, and when I cleaned a house the family was usually not there. Either way, I was always alone.”

Experience with violence on the border

Maria has first hand experience with border violence. Part of her family lives adjacent to the location of the July, 2010, car bombing. “They were in the dining room when suddenly all the windows shattered and the wall cracked,” she said with a somber tone. Three of her aunts have also been victims of extortion.

Building a hopeful future

In the midst of border violence and poverty, Maria wants to build a  stable community, “There should not be this much poverty in such a rich country.”

In 2009, she began to work at La Mujer Obrera, where she was suddenly in a very social work environment at Mercado Mayapán’s food court. “At first, it made me nervous, but I learned to open up to people. Working here has helped me to really develop as a person. And I am providing economic stability for my children.”

Ana

Ana grew up in Juarez, Mexico. At the age of 15, she began to work at factory, making car seats. While still in Juarez, she worked a variety of jobs, including as a food vendor, child care provider, and as an administrative assistant. She then married and moved to El Paso, working at a garment factory for four years. When the factory shut down, she found work at a local diner. In 1998, she began volunteering with La Mujer Obrera.

Experience with violence on the border

Ana exemplifies the economic impact of the border violence on cross-border families. Ana’s mother and some of her siblings live in Juarez, Mexico. Ana and her siblings put their money together each month to contribute to help pay her mother’s expenses. As a result of the border violence, many businesses in Juarez have shut down, and several of her siblings are unemployed. Now there are less incomes to address the same expenses.

She worries about youth in her family still living in Juarez. Without alternative economic opportunities, she says, the Juarez youth are vulnerable to the lure of the ‘mafia.’

Building a hopeful future

In the 12 years since joining La Mujer Obrera, first as a volunteer and then as an employee, Ana has gone from receptionist to waitress to restaurant manager to General Manager of a 4,000 square foot marketplace that includes two food courts, a tortilleria, bakery, meat market, produce, bulk chilies and seeds, and more.

“I have developed here. I have learned so much about everything, including history and culture. This place has opened me up a lot. And I can see the benefit for my children, because the more I know, the better I can guide them. I always tell them to be responsible workers, and to proud of themselves and their culture.”

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