A Man (or a Woman) Never Stands So Tall as When they Stoop to Help a Child in Ajijic, Mexico

January 21, 2009

A Man (or a Woman) Never Stands So Tall as When they Stoop to Help a Child in Ajijic, Mexico

Excessive graffiti is a sign that a neighborhood is starting to go downhill unless the residents and the local government officials work together with those responsible to change things.

That’s exactly what two local expatriate activists and one city official have done. They decided some bold action was needed, but not heavy enforcement, (difficult at best) but instead they took a much more innovative approach.

Local Expats Ann Lewis and Jack Shanks recently got together with Oscar España Ramos, Chapala’s Sindico,  to meet with a so called gang on the mountainside extension of Ajijic’s Calle Juarez.

They had a pow-wow with the young men in the area of concern, aged 12 to about 20 years old, and convinced them to take pride in their community and become part of the solution instead of being part of the problem.

These caring folks convinced the young men to go to work painting over the graffiti on a large wall as a start.

The youngsters were so proud of them selves that once they finished the wall they found other things that needed paint on their own like ugly posts and smaller walls in need of help and painted them as well.

These young men were rightfully proud of their actions as were the Ex Pats who mentored them.

And, now we can all be proud of them too. They’re learning how to make their world better because a few adults reached out to them.

“We want them to know that their actions have a big effect on this community, that their good actions are at least as important as the bad ones.” Ann Lewis was quoted as saying.

But there’s more to this story. These young men need more constructive things to do instead of just hanging out on the street corners.

Soccer Football is a good outlet for youthful energy, and so a vacant lot was cleared recently by the city which is fine for practice, but not really large enough for games.

Future plans call for finding enough flat land not too far away to construct a proper soccer field suitable for games and perhaps after that uniforms too.

Word is spreading among other area youth. Now other groups want part of this constructive action and they have made contact to become involved too.

In addition to these constructive activities going on area residents are encouraged to immediately paint over any graffiti that shows up no matter how small.

It’s well known that this discourages those responsible for the graffiti , especially if done within 48 hours

Folks who have the paint to match their walls but can’t manage the painting part should contact Lewis at 766-1703 and she’ll find someone to help get the job done.

Chapala Mayor Gerardo Degollado is pleased with the effort and has promised to purchase paint for the project, but donations of brushes, buckets and other items for the job are needed as well.

There’s also a new graffiti cleaner out now and this coupled with a special graffiti-resistant paint will help keep our walls and neighborhoods looking their best.

This is not the type of problem that’s solved overnight or by a few well intentioned people talking to a few kids. It will take a sustained effort.

I’m reminded of the quote ” All it takes for evil to triumph, is for good men and women to do nothing.”

Chapala Club is pleased to Salute this grassroots effort to confront the evil of Graffiti and it’s causes in Ajijic.

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