Part of our history: Mexico City, 'El Jardin'

El Jardin, with friends in the parkEl Jardin, with friends in the park

In Mexico, with its 25 million inhabitants, I was struck by the number of people who live in the streets. The Little Sisters took me to "el jardin," a small park across from the Church of La Soledad. It is there that they worked a few years ago in a listening project sponsored by Caritas called "la Carpa," the Tent. Little by little they created relationships with the homeless people in the park, and managed to gain the trust of some of them. It is not easy, because this place is "their" domain, and no one enters without their permission...

Many of the people there have got caught up in prostitution, drug trafficking, all sorts of illegal activities and crime. Yes, "el jardin" is a hard, violent world. A place where the law is constantly trampled on, to be replaced by other laws, laws without pity. A world of transgression, destruction, and death.

With Elisabeth Soun Hwa, I met R, with her little girl who was born in prison. There are other children there who were born on the street. As I watched them I wondered how they could smile so beautifully... Surely they have "an angel" watching over them.

The Little Sisters began their presence in this place in the year 2000. It was a project that took time to mature. As the years went by, the Little sisters tried various approaches... and there was no lack of difficulties... One thing that helped Soun Hwa (Korean) and Betty (Mexican) was the training they got while they were working at La Carpa. It was an intensive formation, in collaboration with others involved in a similar outreach, that gave them tools for knowing how to listen to the people, how to see and analyse their reality, clarify precisely what they wanted to do for them, learn how to reach out. There were regular times to step back and evaluate. It was an important apprenticeship in learning how to maintain the necessary distance, how to refrain from trying to "save" everyone, how not to let oneself be manipulated... Listening to the Little Sisters, I felt their desire to build relationships of trust with the people by trying to get in touch with the element of freedom and responsibility deep within each person. Yes, it's not always obvious how best to promote another person's dignity...