Sister Esperanza is a missionary, currently working with the local Catholic churches located in Tecate and Tijuana. In a squatter settlement in Tecate, Mexico, amongst makeshift shelters made of rusty tin, cardboard boxes, and an assembly of recycled materials from old cars, lives a group of women and their children. This community consists of victims of domestic and child abuse, teenaged victims of human trafficking, and migrants who are left alone at the border with few skills and resources.
Over the last ten years, Sister Esperanza has created a small village of hope in this area—now housing more than 300 families—with the help of her family and some U.S.-based non-profit organizations, such as Mercy Projects. There are shelters with roofs, floors, and walls, running water, and electricity, and even the beginnings of a school with a classroom and a large garden. Each Sunday, Sister Esperanza makes healthy food for people and helps them take care of the garden, sing songs, and learn to read.
The plight of the border people has stretched the resources of both churches beyond imagination. As such, they do not have enough funds to support Sister Esperanza’s daily expenses. At the moment, she survives off the charity of others and her strong faith that she’s doing the work she was born to do.
For many years, Sister Esperanza’s dream was to purchase brand new sewing machines to help the women earn a living and become self-sufficient. With the generous help of donors and a fund-raising event hosted by Peter Yarrow and Linda Carroll, One Story at a Time was able to raise enough money to buy some sewing machines. With these, the women can gain valuable skills, produce items for sale, and form a co-op where they can sell their items.
The sewing machines were purchased, we found a teacher, and the lessons have begun. When one of the board members posted these photos, a friend with a shop in Oakland, California offered to buy some the bags for resale, and we will soon offer them online. We are now helping the women start a cottage industry and become self-supporting.