You’ve discovered the trailer video for Heart of Mexico, 2014, a collaborative narrative journalism project involving students and faculty from the University of North Texas and the Autonomous University of the State of Mexico.
The dark-hair girl sitting on the couch in her school work-out clothes slouches forward as she describes feeling like a captive growing up, her grandmother, Patricia Mondragon, sits across the small sitting room in an arm chair covered in a gold, brown & burgundy afghan.
The 10-year-old was born with a congenital heart defect which required open-heart surgery when she was eight months old. Amara Garcia has lived with her grandmother, Patricia Mondragon, for 10 years in Valle de Bravo, Mexico. Patricia has always been extremely careful with her granddaughter.
Amara couldn’t rough house or participate in many activities other children enjoyed, such as running or skating. She couldn’t eat ice cream or anything too cold. She spent most of her time indoors at home.
The Los Castores Marching Band changed Amara’s life. The band built Amara & Patricia’s confidences. They are more active in the community through the band and Amara has more freedom to act like other children.
Valle de Bravo, Mexico
When they were kicked off of their farmland in order for Valle de Bravo to build a reservoir to help boost tourism, Bernardino and Jobita Ponce were unsure how they and their nine children would survive. Farming was the only lifestyle they had ever known. They raised their children not with a formal education, but instead with the only ability they thought they would ever need- farming skills. As the city grew and pushed the Ponce family further and further from normalcy, they stuck together. Today, in their 60's and 70's, four of the siblings who never married, struggle to support their mother who has diabetes as their own health deteriorates as well. They worry about the possibility of being kicked out of their home that was given to them seven years ago. Buying, roasting and selling pumpkin seeds for five pesos a bag Is the only way the family continues to keep their heads above water.
The most colorful house in all of Valle de Bravo, Mexico, is squeezed into a plot on the slope of Avenida Toluca, one of the busiest streets in the city. Potted plastic plants sway above the porch; red, yellow and green light bulbs hang from the roof. José Mercado, an 84-year-old retired plumber spends most of his days sitting here on his front porch, a row of birds bouncing in their cages behind him chirping complex melodies. On the roof above, 40 whirligigs dance to the beat of the wind.
Mercado began making these whimsical wind machines after the death of his wife, the love of his life, five years ago. When the first whirligig caught wind and came to life, Mercado says, he began to find love again.
A quiet and humble 72-year-old woman, Sofía Malvaez has been a midwife and medical specialist for over 40 years. She started in 1972, when María Esther Zuno, the wife of former Mexican president, Luis Echeverria, fought for the women’s rights and created domestic social and cultural programs for them. These programs helped Sofia become a certified midwife and medical specialist in Mexico. She has helped deliver over 2400 babies and has given medical treatment to thousands of patients who have come to her.
The hospitals near Santa Maria Pipioltepec have let down their citizens by providing inadequate health and baby delivery care for them for many years. An entire village depends on Sofia for medical treatment and delivery of their babies because they trust her more than the general hospitals, provides better service and is always willing to help out. “She told us when we need her help to just knock on her door and she will be there,” said current patient, Yaserih Jaimes.
Pregnant women who come to Malvaez go because they seek the attention they deserve for themselves and their babies. “The doctors (at the general hospital) didn’t take good care of me and my baby died,"current patient, Ramirez Sanchez said. “They didn’t have any feelings for people with an illness or who were suffering.”
At her age, her body breaks down very fast, but when a person needs help, she said her mind has the will to forget about the pain and will continue on with the task at hand. She has no intentions of calling it quits Malvaez said. As long as God keeps her healthy, she will continue her career.