Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Miroslava Enciso Limón: Superhero

When she was 17 years old, Miroslava Enciso Limón visited the city dump in Tijuana, Mexico as part of a school project. She was disturbed by the sight of entire families living among the garbage, digging through it in hopes of finding clothes, food, and any items that could be sold. When she asked a child what his dream for the future was, he answered, "To shower, to feel what its like to have hot water fall on me." Although she'd always claimed that she wanted to be a firefighter, she decided then to instead dedicate her life to bettering the situation of the people living among the piles of refuse.

Now, at 27 years old, Miroslava Enciso Limón is implementing a recycling system that will alleviate both the social and environmental suffering long associated with the Tijuana dump. A machine she designed during her final year of studies at Tijuana's Institute of Technology, where she earned a degree in Industrial Engineering, rips open bags and empties garbage onto conveyor belts, where the trash is sorted by workers into recyclable and biodegradable categories. Enciso Limón admits that she could have automated the sorting system, but she wanted to employ those who used to be scavengers. Perhaps their job is similar to what it has always been, but those who sort the trash now have latex gloves and face masks to protect them from contact with the filth, a cool building in which to work, a regular salary, and health benefits.

Who says one woman can't make a difference?

UPDATE: According to an article in the Spanish-language newspaper ZETA, Enciso Limón is also having to fight governmental corruption as she turns her recycling facility into a reality. Tecate's City Hall Municipal Treasure, Marco Antonio Lizárraga Navarro, has reportedly pocketed some of the recycling center's funds by brokering fraudulent deals concerning some city-owned junk cars. Lizárraga Navarro has been charged with abuse of power, bribery, embezzlement and illicit negotiations. So, Ericka Miroslava Enciso Limón is defending the impoverished and the environment while battling corrupt government officials. Someone buy this woman a cape and a mask, already, because it doesn't get more superhero than that.

5 comments:

Amelia said...

Wow. What a truly amazing woman.

Sounds a bit like my one of mis tías, who used to do a lot of volunteer work in Tijuana. She was really concerned about pollution and its effects on people in the area.

Habladora said...

I have so many amazing women in my family too... it makes me proud (hi, Mom!)...

With the story of Miroslava, I think what most impressed me is that she decided to take on a problem that was long dismissed as unsolvable, a fact of life. She's also had to play so many different rolls in order to make anything happen - she's had to be an engineer, an activist, and now her own governmental 'watch dog' group. All that, and she's around my age... I better get myself going...

Amelia said...

Yeah, it's great to read about women like this. Keeps me motivated to try to achieve more and more in my own life.

Thanks for sharing. :)

pc said...

Great Story and truly great woman. Thanks for letting us know about her. Why can't we find this story on our evening news? And... how do we go about getting her machine into U.S. dumps? Just a thought,because of course Mexico can teach nothing to the U.S. or am I being cynical?

Habladora said...

Can't find the stories you want on the evening news, and have to come here, huh? That's why I should be running things! Well, me or NPR, where I first learned of Erika Miroslava Enciso Limon and her brilliant machine...

(Sigh. I hate giving credit where credit is due.)