My name is Jimena. What? Yes I know it’s a bit of an odd name if you don’t speak Spanish; in English it would sound like this I think: Heemayna. Some of my friends call me Jimmy though, and many others call me Jemima or Hermione. Oh I get called Camilla too for some reason! So there you go, pick and choose and call me how you like. I am writing to introduce myself really. I just joined CAFOD Arundel & Brighton on a temporary basis as Diocesan Officer this week and I’m really excited about all the things I’m already learning. I’ve volunteered for CAFOD for almost two years so it really is great that I can now look into its work from a different perspective and see what happens in the office with other volunteers and action plans.
I am originally from the ‘greatest country in the world’ Mexico (most proud Mexicans would say something similar, specially since we are celebrating our Independence Bicentennial in 2 days time!). My parents were born and raised in Mexico City and so was I. I have one older sister called Andrea who still lives amongst 20 million other Mexicans in what I believe is one of the biggest cities in the world. It sounds huge and it really is. I don’t actually understand how so many people live in such a condensed space but they do and things work. Well ‘sort of’.
Since I was a little girl I noticed that there were constantly one or two random girls my age or a bit older living in my house who were not really part of my family. When I would come down for breakfast before going to school they would already be in the kitchen helping my mom with food or cleaning the table. When I would leave for school, they would always stay behind in the house. I didn’t really know why and I didn’t question. I saw the same thing happened in every single of my friends’ homes so I thought it was normal. When I would get back from school, they would be again preparing dinner or cleaning the house. It was great for me because after doing homework, there was always someone there I could play with other than my sister with whom I often quarrelled over which toys to play with. Since my new random ‘sisters’ didn’t have toys of their own, they would be quite happy to play with whatever. The enthusiasm in their faces every time I’d play with them is actually unforgettable.
Indeed, I come from a country where these contrasts are real and appalling. I went to a catholic school all my life and as I grew up in my faith I started engaging with those values which demandingly invited me to help those who were in need or who had not been as fortunate as me. As part of my education in school, I would go out on missions to very poor communities in Mexico where my classmates and I would run health, education and evangelization programmes with the guidance of teachers, sisters and priests. When I was a teenager I became more involved with these missions and it was then that I started questioning the order of things. I still had other ‘sisters’ in my house and although I would see that everyone else had them, I started asking to myself ‘why’. The randomness of the situation started to really bug me and although I knew that giving my them a roof, a bed, food and work was better than leaving them on the street, I also knew that the impossibility for them to chase their dreams was just not ON .
I understood then that all the privileges I had already been given throughout my life where gifts from God to rejoice in them but more than anything, to make a difference in the lives of those who have lacked of opportunities and are being treated unfairly. More than ten years have passed since I consciously felt the first calling to be witness of my faith and if I’m quite honest, I still get confused about what this means yet. Perhaps I’ll spend the rest of my life figuring it out! I just know that all the academic and practical experience I’ve gathered throughout all these years in Mexico and abroad needs to be shared and used on behalf of those who don’t have the resources or the access to a good quality education which would help them become autonomous human beings, free to live their lives to the full. CAFOD believes in a world where this should be possible. Me too and therefore, being part of this team in A&B is an honour, another gift from God and a huge and exciting responsibility!
Thank you for your support while I’m here.