Personal Transformation Experience
The Raramuri Coordinator Of The Cerro Grande Community
María Yolanda Hernández Cruz
“Yolanda is the one who has gotten things done. The people go to her. This situation is very hard for her, but she does it because she is selfless. She has a beautiful heart, a heart to serve”; said Saulo, pastor of the church “La Gran Victoria” (the great victory) in the Vistas Cerro Grande Community, about Yolanda and her labor with her Raramuri brothers.
An Interview with Yolanda:
I come from Norogachi and my community in the Tarahumara Chihuahua Sierra Mountains is called Siquirichi. I received primary education in a boarding school. I would have liked to study more, but it was not possible. We were too many children and my father could not support us all. We migrated to the city looking for work. I did not like it at home on the ranch; it is pretty there, but since I was little, I realized that there was no work and the people struggled a lot just to eat, so I came here to live with an aunt. I did not plan to stay, just to look for work, but in the end I stayed.
I was just 17 when I came to the city, working in houses to make money. I did not want to pay rent because I wanted my own house, so I saved and was able to buy land. By the time I was 21, I had my land here in Vistas Cerro Grande where I own property and can live here forever. It has been 18 years since I settled in this community. When I moved here, there was nothing, just vacant lots, no houses, nothing. So, I was just about the first one to build here, with no one around. Then it was just grass and mezquites (tumbleweeds), but now we have everything, it is full of people. My husband works in construction. Of my children, only my boy, Jorge, was born at the ranch and I brought him with me when I came here. He is 21 now. The other two were born here in Chihuahua – Angel is 17 years and Mayra is five years old.
How did I become the community´s coordinator? Right from the start, many of my friends did not know anything about papers (legal documents), nor where they needed to go to buy land and what the government requirements were. So, I helped them. I was always glad to do it and later, since I knew more or less about these things, I would tell them what papers were needed and where to go to buy land. I have been the community coordinator for three and a half years. I like to help people because I know how they feel when they do not know about things. Even now, people with family still ask for my help to take them to government offices or the water commission – anywhere, anywhere. You see, I know how to handle these things, thank God. God is telling me to help these people, because they do not know what to do.
There are people that belong to a local political party who are helping the poor and indigenous groups. Well, we all belong to that group. If it was not for them, right now we would be very low on funds. They have helped us move forward. They said that many Raramuris were living here in this community and needed materials to build on their land. They were told that because there was no coordinator, they needed one here who is a Raramuri. So they decided to name one, to get things done. I have found out that a coordinator has a lot of responsibilities; because it is not just a few things that fall on you, it is a lot! Yes, because a coordinator has to be, along with many other things, responsible. So, you see wherever I have gone people listen to me, they understand me because I do not go alone, I always have God with me, that is why! You see, if they do not solve the problem, I come back again and again, until they fix it. If you do not insist, they will never listen to you.
I am very grateful to you for coming here and serving the neighbors, because I know that they need it. We have not had any help like this before – serving meals. I am very happy because I know that this is a great blessing from God, bringing you here! You are giving us a lot of help.
María Yolanda Hernández Cruz