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The home is bustling, with oldest daughter Jenifer helping her mom and younger siblings Jonathan and Joran running around the house – being boys.

Ruiz, surrounded by the smoke of her upstairs cooking fire, has a con- stant smile as she works with Jenifer. It’s a smile, she says, that comes from gratitude for services the Buckner Family Hope Center here provided her and her husband, who is struggling with alcohol addiction. Before Buckner’s intervention, the family was living on the edge of dysfunction. “The Hope Center has brought the family closer together,” she says while stirring a pot of hot chocolate for visitors. “Because there used

social worker. She assessed the family’s issues, from disorganization to cleanliness to anger management, and stepped in with help and support geared toward emotional and financial self-sufficiency. “To be honest,” Ruiz says. “It was very messy. Biri can tell you. She saw how it used to be. Now, thanks to them, we have been a bit more adjust- ed to having things in order because she has been here and explained to us how things should be. There were just so many changes. I didn’t know how to handle the kids; now I do. I have learned to receive and give, and also with my husband. Thanks to her help, my family is a lot more stable now. No more yelling and fighting. Everything is well balanced.” The family’s finances are more predictable, too, she adds. “Our house used to be very humble, a lot more humble. It was made out of tin and, with hard work and effort and saving money, we were able to build a more stable home thanks to my dad and my husband, and we are making it work. With the house, and the kids, and my work selling tostadas, we get by.”

Frontier reality

The colonia of Xoxocotlan (hoho-coat-LAHN) is one of many outside of Oaxaca, Mexico. Growing from the edge of the city and radiating out, they often are a mix of tin homes as families buy lots and start fresh construction and larger, cinder block houses, indicating a family has accumulated enough wealth to use the more durable – and expensive – blocks to establish permanent roots.

to be a lot of screaming and messes everywhere and even punching. Now that is all in the past. Now we talk to our children and they listen and give respect to the family. Ruiz was wary of the Hope Center prior to enrolling in the program, but Jonathan soon helped her gain the confidence to see what it could provide their family. She was invited to a dinner at the Hope Center to discover what it had to offer. What she found was much more than food. “There is a lot of support available for us,” Ruiz says. “Not only do

we receive support, but we can provide them with volunteer services as well. We can go there and cook. Our kids can go to Bible readings and baseball games. They can learn how to be a bit more organized because, before that, the house was a mess.” In addition to services found at the Hope Center, the family also was assigned to Biridiana “Biri” Reyes Trujillo, the Family Hope Center’s

This is a working-class colonia, with many of the men working from daylight to dark in construction or agriculture. Most families have live- stock and small gardens to augment low wages.

Xoxocotlan is experiencing rapid growth as families looking for more space away from the city to locate here. It still has the feel of a frontier area: new, raw and earthy, with one foot in the city and one in the surrounding rural scenery. The only feature of the landscape that lets you know you’re not in virgin territory is the nearby ruins of the Zapotec fortress-city Monte Alban, deserted now for almost 1,000 years.

FALL 2015 ISSUE • Buckner Today 55

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