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The Forgotten Americans

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Focus: Las Colonias
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May 15, 1999

Hector Galan behind the scenes. I have seen so many initiatives to revitalize colonia communities it will be diffidcult to tell all the stories I have heard.

For the past two months, we have interviewed over 30 colonia residents, including community leaders, experts, and educators. One of the most interesting filming moments included Memorial Middle School in Pharr, Texas, where we spent "a day in the life of a young student."

We filmed an enterprising center called the Proyecto Derecho Del Corazon, where 4th and 5th graders spend their after-school time painting murals depicting the Mexican-American heritage of the town of Donna, Texas.

I have been so moved by the spirit and optimism of the people we have interviewed who live in extreme poverty.

We also are tracking families who apply for housing assistance and have seen them go through the process of getting approved, building their new home from the ground up and finally moving in. This is made possible by Proyecto Azteca, a self-help housing project based in San Juan, Texas. It is amazing how this organization has enabled colonia residents to make their dreams of owning a home a possibility.

We have all been touched by how colonia residents have been able to improve their own communities with little money. These residents have formed an organization called Waterworks, which helps communities that don’t have proper sewage drainage lines by involving everyone to work on hooking up their neighbors. On average, four houses a day are hooked up to main water and sewer lines as a result of this community effort.

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