Mexico Trek!   Trekkers DISPATCH: September 11 Silvia's Log

Francisco Roman

            How old was Francisco when his family had him start selling drugs?

  Where was Francisco shot by the police, and how did he escape?

                        What does he believe we need to create a better future?

Francisco Roman RojasHola, I am Francisco, 20 years old, from Acapulco, Guerrero. I grew up in a rural community of 2,500 people called "El Paraiso" (Paradise) because it is so beautiful and full of flowers. We are a family of three children and my parents. I have a brother and a sister. When I was just 7 years old, I was introduced into the world of growing and distributing drugs. My grandpa raised marijuana and amapola plants on the family farmlands and I would help him in the fields. He also taught me to use arms to protect myself, and as I became a teenager I started to have money, a car, fields and cows. I thought that this was the ideal life because I had power, and I would travel to lots of places to sell the drugs.

However, I also started to use the drugs myself and became alcoholic as well. I lived like this, hiding from the law and getting into trouble with the police until I was 17 years old. Instead of going to jail, I would pay the police a bribe and get away, but one time I decided to try to fight them instead and I got shot at in the leg, where now I have an ugly scar that will always remind me of that life. A few of my friends got caught and are in jail now, but I was able to escape by jumping into a river and swimming away, and a doctor aided my injury secretly. That was about 6 months ago, when I knew I had to change that sort of lifestyle and find a new way to live, away from Acapulco because I was wanted by the authorities.

I came to Mexico City because I knew Casa Alianza would help me. What is past is past. What I have lived has been lived. The present can be very frightening because now there arenít drugs, alcohol, nothing negative, because now I want to try to change. I need to keep my will. I want to be someone I couldnít be before, someone that can do positive things for society and to help others to not fall into drug problems and alcoholism.

If by telling my story I can help, it is my pleasure and I have faith in a superior power called God, who is greater than me. I used to think there was no one greater than me, but I have gone through some humbling experiences that have made me believe in God. For example, I am not in jail, and I could be. I think that God is within us all and in all that surrounds us.

When I fled from the police about 3 years ago, Casa Alianza helped me in many ways- the Counselors helped me psychologically and physically because I was sick and I got well. They helped me reunite with my family through the Family Reintegration department, where they contacted them for me and arranged so we could be reunited. Casa Alianza always lends a hand, willing to hug us and say "change your life", and "leave those drugs and take these books", and "leave these so called friends and take my hand so that we can walk along this path freely, with happiness, faith, and love." When I see street children today I get very angry when I know theyíve been in and out of Casa Alianza. I know weíre all different in the way we think, but when the kids want to leave the shelter to get drugged, that angers me because they are not valuing themselves. Perhaps their neurons donít function anymore. Iíd like to speak with them and tell them I think itís wrong that theyíre wasting their lives like that.

I donít think we can change the world. We can only change ourselves, and when you change yourself, your surroundings will be changed. The world is very large, and to be able to change it we need to be many and not only one that wants the changes. Strength is in numbers, and strength is what we need to create a better future.

My message to you all that see the Odyssey pages is this:

Some kids have a home, and some donít. Some parents donít care about their children or treat them with affection because they work too much. The kids feel lonely, unloved, and neglected. They can grow without love and feel out of place. Be careful with them because they can fall into drugs, like I did. My advice to parents is to give more time to their children.

A child is a great hope, and a hope is an assurance for an entire state and a nation someday."


Related Dispatches: 
Silvia - The wisdom of youth - Meet three former homeless kids
Silvia - Francisco Roman
Silvia - Jose Antonio Arroyo
Silvia - Ulises Montiel Silva

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