Juana Gonzalez sells homemade potato chips on a main pedestrian street in downtown Guadalajara, Mexico. Her daughter Ariana partially blocks a sign of a woman on vacation that advertises the importance to "sell and make money.'' In this photo gallery, Kevin Kovaleski documents their story.
By Kevin Kovaleski
In shared space and under dire economic circumstances, Juana Gonzalez and her mother, Felipa, have created a home for their four children that stands in stark contrast to their perilous neighborhood in Cerro del Cuatro in Guadalajara, Mexico. The story of Juana, Felipa, and the children is one of hope and progress.
I recently stayed with the family as part of a Truth With a Camera workshop, a US-based nonprofit organization that uses photography as a vehicle for social change and global awareness. Photographers are assigned to nonprofit groups in the workshop’s host country to document the group’s work.
While in Guadalajara, I was assigned to CODENI, a nonprofit organization that provides direct outreach to the city's most vulnerable families. Many are Otomi, a minority group in Mexico, and most live in Cerro del Cuatro, one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in Guadalajara. CODENI specifically targets families that work the streets as potato chip vendors. This livelihood is economically unviable for the families and hazardous for the children who help their parents sell potato chips. Many such children in Guadalajara fall victim to drug abuse, trafficking, violence, and child prostitution.
CODENI also runs an afterschool program that provides further educational opportunities and a safe place for the children to spend time while their parents work. For the parents, CODENI has organized an adult education program and an artisan group, the Mnini Collectivo, that encourages them to seek alternative income from handicrafts made in the style of their Otomi heritage.