Here in the stunningly beautiful highlands of south-central Mexico, thousands of families facing economic hardship have seen relatives leave to seek work in the United States. Families have been torn apart, and many of those who have returned to the region continue to need help and support.
Ellen Calmus, an American writer and photographer who founded and today runs a community-based aid organization here, has seen it all.
Her nonprofit group â€“ The Corner Project, or Proyecto El RincÃ³n in Spanish â€“ has won her Mexico’s gold QuetzalcÃ³atl medal and praise in Mexico and elsewhere for providing crisis support and other assistance to local families with relatives in the US. It is also seen as a model for how nongovernmental organizations can deal with cross-border migration. A growing number of towns and villages beyond the Malinalco region have turned to El RincÃ³n with requests for assistance for their own families of migrants.
Working with a staff of four full-time employees, along with dozens of part-time participants and volunteers, Ms. Calmus helps create jobs by supporting the design, production, and sale of Aztec-inspired jewelry, handcrafted by local artisans. She also oversees weekend and summer programs for migrants’ children.