Mother Ines. A mom for abandoned children in Mexico City. Audio Slideshow

I share an audio-slide show about Ines Valdivia Gonzalez, Mother Ines, an 84-year-old woman who runs the "Casa de la Divina Providencia", or "Home of the Divine Providence" in México City. She opened the home in 1965 with three children who had cerebral paralysis. Since then, Mother Ines has cared for more than 2,800 children. Some died due to grave illness, other grew up and today are adults who continue to live at the home and help out with caring for their brothers and sisters. Several of them left the home after finishing college, or finding a job and getting married. Today 236 people live at Mother Ine's home.

To see the audio-slide show click here:
(Photo ©Chico Sanchez-All Rights Reserved)
Before opening the home, Mother Ines was forced to leave the Catholic church, choosing between her life as a nun after 19 years at the convent, and caring for the ill children given to her. She decided to leave the church for the children.

At first she had to beg in the street for food as she had no help or money to her name. She survived thanks to a person who offered her a room and to women working as prostitutes who gave her money. Later she found land to build a home and ate for free thanks to Luis Eng Fui "El Chino," the late founder of Café El Popular, a restaurant by the Cathedral.

His son Jose Luis is who invited me to visit Madre Ines' home.  They both remember how his father helped her during the worst of times when she was in the process of building her home, brick by brick, going days without food in winter time.

I've done many assignments and none have been as intense that this one. Some of the illnesses the children have are really grave. Many of them are deformed, unable to move or have brain damage. Most of the illnesess were caused when they were throw away in the trash or under a bridge, according to Mother Ines. The good side is that their home is clean, organized, bright with natural light, cheerful and dignified.

At one point someone told me: "With images from this home, you could win an international photography contest." I realized that was true and even non-photographers know that images of tragedy win contests. A photo essay on the positive side of Mother Ine's home won't get promoted in mainstream journalism.

When Mother Ines gave me the permission to shoot, she asked me not to be like other journalists who have visited her home who choose to show tragedy. She asked to me to be honest and help others see that her children are human beings like the rest of us who deserve a good life. In this case my prize is keeping my word to her and respecting the people I take pictures of.

Mother Ines is always needing help and she likes it when people visit her children.

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