School of Peace and right to adequate housing. Sant'Egidio in Mexico works for the integration of the Otomi, a very poor indigenous minority

The country has 68 diverse indigenous communities with a total population of more than 25 million out of its 120 million inhabitants. It is rare to find areas of the country with no visible presence of indigenous peoples, both locals and migrants, who move in search of better living conditions. Even in the vast and chaotic Mexico City, with its 28 million inhabitants, modern huge skyscrapers coexist with centuries-old traditions such as those of the Otomi.

 ‘Otomi’ is a word from the old Mexican language meaning ‘walking with arrows’. When the people of  Community of Mexico City began distributing dinners to the homeless in the city centre in 2015, they immediately noticed the high number of children walking the streets late into the night selling small souvenirs, sweets and cigarettes to tourists. On those long nights, under some street lamps, talking with these children and their mothers, they began to better understand the difficulties and suffering of the Otomi population.
The Otomi arrived in the megalopolis about 15 years ago, from a rural region 200 km away, which lacked major infrastructure and job opportunities. Men were the first to migrate, followed by women and their children. Today, about 2,000 Otomi live in the central area of the city, close to the Community headquarters. They live in tents and abandoned buildings, are not registered at the city registry office, have no identity documents and many children do not attend school. They speak a language different from Spanish, thus making it difficult for them to integrate into the hectic city life.
Since 2018, the Otomi children have been attending the School of Peace. This has enabled around 80 of them to be enrolled in public school. The Community also started catechism and in the past year 20 children were able to receive baptism and first communion.
The Community's premises have become, for the Otomi adults, an oasis of welcome and friendship, which has also become a first step for their integration into city life. A Spanish language school was started for the adults, who  can thus integrate more easily into Mexican society. 
Most importantly, as time passed and mutual trust grew, the Community of Sant'Egidio in Mexico City managed to obtain recognition of Otomi's right to housing assistance. Thus, since the end of May this year, 70 families have entered dedicated housing, moving definitively out of the marginalisation of the street.