Drug war orphans struggle to survive

Estimated 25,000 orphans in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico

CIUDAD JUAREZ, Mexico - A small orphanage in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico houses about 30 children, each with his or her own tragic story.

Six-year-old Manuel was sold to a drug addict by his mother for a small amount of marijuana. The drug addict’s son thought it was funny to get Manuel high.

He ended up at the orphanage because his prostitute mother dropped off his sister, telling the orphanage she didn’t want her anymore.

These stories are not unique in Ciudad Juarez, once the murder capital of the world and a city that continues to be plagued by drug-related violence.

More than 5,000 people have been murdered since 2010 alone, leaving nearly 25,000 orphans, according to an estimate from JuarezOrphans.com.

Cesi Perez runs the small orphanage where Manuel and his sister now stay. She said they see a litany of mental issues surrounding the violence.

“Most of these kids have never been given affection,” said Perez. “They either have never known their parents or their parents didn’t provide it.”

Perez said she and her family try and fill the void. They give the children a basic education and better nutrition.

The hope is for them to lead fruitful lives with opportunities they otherwise wouldn’t have.

It’s difficult for the orphanage, however, as the Mexican government provides no help funding. Every dollar spent comes from Perez and her middle-class family.

“We do it because they’re like our kids now,” said Perez. “We laugh together, cry together and live together."

To see some of the children featured in this story, go here.

For a list of recent stories Matt Rivers has done, click here.


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