The community of Anapra sits on northwest border of Juarez, Mexico, and, from practically anywhere in town, you can see the city of El Paso. In fact, before a wall was erected in the late 1990s, residents easily traveled back and forth across the border to trade and sell in the United States.

Anapra was once known as the gateway to Mexico, but, as Juarez expanded over the last few decades, it subsumed the enclave. It now holds the undesirable distinction of being the poorest area in or around Juarez. Nearly half of its residents are migrant workers who came from other Mexican cities to work in “maquilas” or factories that manufacture products for export to the U.S. It is a town scarred by hardship and dislocation, a population uprooted from any support networks or structures: extended family, community, and even culture. The crushing effects of poverty can be seen everywhere: little access to healthcare and education, illiteracy, domestic violence, mental-emotional health issues, and isolation.

In 2002, Linabel Sarlat and Elvia Villescas took on the challenge of confronting Anapra’s difficulties at their very roots by working to help families and children, the foundation of any community. Both Sarlat and Villescas were former Catholic nuns who left their congregations to put their faith into practice in Anapra. It was their vision that launched the organization Las Hormigas Communidad en Desarollo or “The Ants” Community Development, which has, over the years, offered an array of crucial services to Anapra’s residents.

Read the full article about Las Hormigas helping a community in renewal by at Hispanics in Philanthropy.