When Pandilleros Attend Mass and Other Life Lessons
I went to ElSalvador.com to check out photos of El Salvador’s momentous win last night against the U.S., but as is my habit, I became distracted by something else.
A still image in the sidebar of a tattooed marero (gang member), taking communion, made me pause. The story title: Pandilleros piden una oportunidad. I clicked through to the video and found it too moving not to share.
I don’t consider myself religious, but something about this video touched me. Looking at those faces, behind the tattoos, I see young men who were once little boys, and for whatever reason, they made mistakes that led them to where they are. Many of them come from poverty or abusive homes. Neglected by parents or orphaned by war, they sought to “belong” and that is a big attraction to gang life – it’s the family one never had.
“Siempre han dicho que nosotros somos la escoria y lo peor del mundo. Nosotros crecimos en un época de conflicto y en ese época tapamos nuestros valores con cosas negativas, pero estamos dispuestos a cambiar, si nos ayudan.” – source
["They've always said that we're the scum and the worst of the world. We grew up in an era of conflict and in that time we covered our values with negative things, but we are willing to change, if you help us."]
“Nosotros estamos de buena fe, queremos seguir adelantes. Estamos consciente de que les hemos fallado a Dios, y a la sociedad, y aquí en nombre de toda mi pandilla, la MS13, quiero pedirle perdón, a la sociedad, y que nos dé una oportunidad de poder cambiar… nosotros también somos salvadoreños, nosotros también somos seres humanos.” – source: MS13 gang member in the video
["We are of good faith, we want to move on. We are aware that we have failed God, and society, and here, on behalf of my gang, MS13, I apologize, I want to ask for forgiveness, from society, and ask that you give us an opportunity to change ... we too are Salvadorans, we too are human beings."]
What would happen if we always believed the best about others, rather than the worst?…Maybe people live up to expectations.
Image source: Both images are screen captures from the video by ElSalvador.com
More images worth seeing: Informador.com