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Ciudad Jaurez, Mexico is a city very close to my heart, and physically close to my home in Texas. I grew up spending my summers there building homes and churches with Casas por Cristo. The presence of the drug cartels was evident in a very real way. One summer there was even a group of gang members, guns out, in a low-flying helicopter threatening us from the sky to move on---we were trying to build a home on cartel land (which is essentially all the land).
According to the UN, over 1,200 children and teens have been killed by the drug cartels of Juarez since 2008. There’s an especially high rate of female homicide within the city. Several mass graves have been discovered in recent years, the bodies showing evidence of brutal rape and mutilation. Thousands more are still missing.
These photos of children in Mexico from the early 1990s were taken from the US Library of Congress archives (they are not copyrighted). I chose the words erased, deleted, and lost because, like David Badstone said at the Not For Sale Conference, “We are all writing our own story, and when trafficking happens, it’s like the pen has been taken from your hand.” In the same way, when a life is lost to this kind of violence, not only does the pen get taken from them, it's like their story gets erased. There’s no opportunity to take the pen back, to regain the childhood they lost. The story that could have been---should have been---is lost indefinitely.