The place where the sun rises

For more than 10 years, I lived with my family in Tonalá, a small town in Guadalajara, Mexico. In Nahuatl, Tonalá means “the place where the sun rises.” (Since 2008, it has also been home to a CI community center serving more than 4,000 kids.)

This town is known for its handicrafts, and they are a main source of income for many families who live there.

Colorful Mexican handicrafts

I always considered it a visual delight to walk through its streets. It seemed like a kaleidoscope, adorned with a thousand colors and shapes.

Freshly painted piggy banks

One Saturday afternoon, I went there determined to take pictures of the most beautiful handicrafts I could find. Simple plaster figures caught my attention, something I’d never seen in the 10 years I lived in the area. Wherever I looked, I saw them.

His works are created with pride

I discovered that they were made by the Méndez family, who has continued the tradition of making and painting these figures for 40 years. The family survives on the money from their work. Each family member can produce up to 100 pieces in a day.

The family lives where they work

Here is the yard of the Méndez family. Where they work is where they live.

In a plaster playground

Five families, all related, live and work here. The children help their parents but make time to play in their big plaster playground.

Carefully painting ceramics

For me, the value is not in the materials used, but in the effort of the person who crafted it.

These pictures will always be very important to me, because they not only show a part of my city and its people, but they remind me that I am now part of the great team at Children International.

Editor’s note: Paola recently started working for Children International in our Guadalajara, Mexico, agency. She submitted these photos as part of her interview process. Say hello and give her a warm welcome in the comments!


Sep 29, 2016

Welcome to CI, Paola! This is a great story.

Sep 30, 2016

Welcome, Paola! I really enjoyed reading your story. Great photos, too!

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