It began with a simple dream of a small group of resolute mothers discussing community problems in a one-room apartment in the Segundo Barrio during the 1960s. Through stiff determination and unflinching courage, the “Mothers of La Fe” cobbled together a non-profit organization to empower families immersed in poverty, unemployment, lack of health care and gang violence. Since that day more than four decades ago, Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe has helped countless families, many of them recent immigrants to El Paso, resulting in the empowerment of a predominantly Latino community. Segundo Barrio, located south of downtown El Paso near the U.S.-Mexico border, is the city’s oldest and most historic neighborhood, housing a community deeply rooted in Mexican culture. “I have always said that all the people in La Fe are my second home,” said Esperanza Tijerina, who attends citizenship classes and English at the La Fe Culture and Technology community center and is preparing to apply for U.S. citizenship.
EL PASO – The American media still has a lot of work to do. It has not fulfilled its responsibility covering the stories of the millions of immigrants that live in the United States, and has not fully challenged the narrative that has dominated the immigration debate for the last decade and a half, a panel of border activists and immigration experts agreed this last weekend. In front of the five panelists, a roomful of journalists listened to their concerns and ideas as part of the first Specialized Reporting Institute on Immigration Reform held in El Paso, TX and sponsored by the McCormick Foundation. The twenty reporters from all over the country and a dozen journalism students sat in silence inside the auditorium of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe on Sept. 28 as they listened to the concerns of the immigration advocates.
EL PASO – Borderzine.com has selected a diverse group of 17 online, print, broadcast and Spanish-media journalists to attend the McCormick Specialized Reporting Institute on Immigration on the UTEP campus September 26-29. Chosen from a diverse pool of 76 applicants from throughout the United States, those selected include freelance journalists and represent a good mix of geographic and ethnic diversity. Three UTEP student journalists will also receive scholarships to attend the workshop. During the three-day training the journalists will learn how to mine data and access other research to develop compelling and in-depth stories about immigration in their local communities. They will also learn about immigration policy and legislation from national experts, tour the border fence, learn how border journalists cover the issue and participate in a town hall meeting with local immigrant community leaders at Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe in the predominately immigrant Segundo Barrio community of El Paso.
EL PASO – The number of Latina housewives infected with HIV is increasing in El Paso and the perpetrators are “machos enmascarados,” usually their own husbands. “I had never seen the increase in that type of vulnerable heterosexual family-oriented woman, as I am seeing it now,” said Jorge Salazar, health services administrator of the Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe. “La Fe is focusing on the very difficult topic of educating and empowering our women.”
Women are finding out to their dismay that their prince charming is experimenting with his sexuality in what is called MSM (men having sex with men), contracting HIV/AIDS and passing it on to them, according to Salazar. December 1 is World AIDS Day, and Salazar said that he hopes that a new awareness of this new face of HIV in the Latino community will erase the image of what a person with HIV/AIDS may look like and start affected people on a journey of hope, peace and help. Women in El Paso are becoming more vulnerable to this situation and the numbers have been rising.
EL PASO — The future of Segundo Barrio is not white or brown, but green. Such is the view of Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, a health and human services organization that contends economic power will decide the fate of this historic neighborhood in south central El Paso. It is a decidedly pragmatic approach for a non-profit born in the grassroots movements of the 1960’s and grounded in social justice. A visit to the La Fe “campus” reveals an organization that appears to be thriving. In 1992, La Fe consisted of one health clinic, 65 employees and a budget of $3 million, mostly federal funds.
EL PASO – The after-effects of UTEP’s decision to preserve César Chávez Day as a holiday still continue to be felt both across the campus and frontiers beyond. The decision, which was officially passed on February 8th, ensures that the holiday, held in honor of the Mexican-American champion of fair labor, will be celebrated by the students this year, despite the fact the campus will remain open to faculty and staff. The decision comes as a result of a massive organizational effort by the UTEP student body, and is considered a decisive victory by its supporters. Yet very few people outside the campus might be aware of the enormous impact this decision makes in this state’s political arena. The reason César Chávez Day was originally threatened with cancellation was due to a proposed decision by the state of Texas to re-define and eliminate the basic elements of the holiday.
EL PASO – On a warm, windy March afternoon, the inhabitants of one of El Paso’s most rustic and historic neighborhoods gathered for a carnival held in honor of Cesar Chavez. Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe held a carnival for the famed social justice leader on the grounds of La Fe Preparatory School on Saturday the 26th of March. Hundreds were in attendance, many of them residents of the Segundo Barrio, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the United States. “We need to keep the legacy of Cesar Chavez alive,” says John Estrada, who is a member of the board of directors at La Fe. “And this is one of the ways we do it, through Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe.”
The board of directors of La Fe have supported this event for over 10 years, with the event taking place on the elementary school grounds for the past three years.
EL PASO – Antonio Santos’ office is loaded with nearly every Mexican cultural artifact imaginable. Bright blankets and border souvenirs adorn the walls while a virtually endless army of trinkets dance around a band of wrinkly papier-mâché mariachis who sing silently on the desk. In the far back of the room a giant cloth mural of an Aztec warrior drapes down behind a traditional Mexican altar piece dedicated to his father who died some years ago. Photos of Mexican film stars and portraits of Chicano activists such as Dolores Huerta and Rodolfo “Corky” Gonzales cover the rest of the wall. Aptly nicknamed “Mr. Raza,” Santos administers a wide variety of community programs for children and adults at La Fe’s Cultural and Technology Center, a local satellite in the larger network of community resource centers owned by the private non-profit company, Centro De Salud Familiar La Fe, Inc.
“I like it when kids wander in here with curiosity.