La Esperanza - a slum of hope or a slum of despair?

This project is a guide to the reality for migrants to Mexico. They are resigned to the fact that most must live in cramped or poor housing areas but still consider their new home a place for hope. Is this really the case or are they in a slum of despair?Firstly, to appreciate proven facts and figures we can study tables of data.

TABLE ONE - Age of Migrants  
Age People
0-9 8
10-19 27
20-29 38
30-39 16
40-49 6
50 or more 5

This table tells us about the age of those who migrate.As you can see the most common age for migrants is 20-29. I believe that this is because these people are those who have finished whatever education they have had and wish to break away from the family home and form a life of their own. The least common ages for migrants are 0-9, 50+ and 40-49. This is probably because the very young and very old are physically fit enough to withstand the journey or/and have no strong will to move from there current home. They rely on someone else to provide a method of transport and set-up once there. 40 - 49 year olds don't leave for they are probably set-up with a family where they are so can't really move their whole family and change their way of living as easily as others.

JOBS BEFORE MOVING AFTER MOVING
Agriculture 70 2
Manufacturing 4 31
Building 4 14
Commerce 2 14
Transport 1 7
Household service 8 11
Other Service 1 12
Other Employment 2 1
Unemployed 7 8

 

This shows whether the migration was a move to get better chances of a job. It provides figures for both before and after migration. Agriculture before the move was obviously very much the most common job. This was probably because the majority migrated from small farming areas. After moving to a city all the agricultural land is no longer available so very few remained in that profession. Manufacturing is the predominate job for migrants as in the city many factories are operational making cars and other similar products. Building is also an easily obtained job for due to the ever-increasing population many new homes are needed. No qualifications are needed for you may just carry building materials. Commerce is another popular job being in a large city with many tourists and shops. Transport (taxis and such like) are also fairly popular for the vast majority of people use taxis often as opposed to driving themselves through busy traffic or in the poorer cases the taxi is an alternative to the car. Household service is fairly common so female migrants often will become a maid be it for a rich family or just one who wants the house tidied as it is easy and again requires no qualifications. Other service has greatly increased, as in the city there are a much greater variety of jobs. Other employment has gone down for there are much easier and more stable jobs in the city. The unemployment totals have very importantly increased. This may be because only one member of the family now need work or due to the amount of migrants it is becoming too crowded to even find a job because another migrant has already taken it. If that is the case than certainly the migrations are out of despair with no hope.
Table showing help received  
None 30
Finding work 27
Finding a home 19
Sharing their home 37
Loans of money 8

This table shows how much help the migrants received when they first moved into La Esperanza. The help levels in many areas are quite high. The most noticeable being 37 percent whom received a shared house and 27 percent who found help getting work. Sadly 30 percent also found no help whatsoever. Loans of money were very few for understandable reasons. The migrants in general have no guaranteed job, income or housing so may easily not be able to pay back the lender.

TABLE 4 - WHO HELPED ?
No-one 30
Relations 48
Friends from village 16
Other Friends 4
Strangers 2
This table expands upon table three finding out who helped the migrants. The greatest number migrants answered that relations helped them during the migration. The most likely method would be shared housing. Many (30 percent) answered noone helped them still indicating the migration to be hard work. Some received help from friends who may either be willing to share a house or offer financial support if needed. Very few distant friends or strangers helped for they probably did not feel like they knew the migrant (s) well enough.

What was your house like when you first moved and what is it like now?

First Moved Now
Shared with another family 87 46
Your own 13 54
Made of scrap materials 57 51
Made of brick or breeze blocks 38 42
With a tap of its own 23 38
With a tap within 100 metres 60 48
With no electricity 33 28
With an illegal electricity supply 58 60
With legal electricity 9 12
This table examines the way they must live and can be used to indicate quality of life. Supporting table three this shows high numbers of people forced to share a house, now the total has nearly halved showing a noticeable increase in the standard of living for many. At the start very few could afford their own house due to financial instability, lack of money or no way to purchase a house. Now, after the migrants have had time to settle in the total has increased greatly now more people own their own house than share a house, surely this must indicate a fairly good standard of living? In this case no for when looking at the numbers of people who have a house made of scrap materials it has decreased very little and remains now at only three less percent than the amount with their own house. The amount of people with home made houses from bricks and such like has increased slightly possibly due to the amount of people now involved in building as a trade (see table two). A sure indicator of poor living conditions is the lack of water, only 38 percent of people have a tap of their own. This shows little increase and is worrying. More have a tap within 100 metres but this number has decreased since the first move. Even if this means people can access running water by today's living standards it is still dreadful. The amount of people without electricity, a modern day luxury, is still fairly high and has decreased a very small amount. Perhaps, some see no need or some can't afford it out of their budget. Evidence that the poor and second class living conditions lead to crime is clearly visible as 60 percent of people now have an illegal electricity supply so they can afford the luxury out of their budget and swindle the electric companies out of money. These figures have shown very little change but if a small increase two -percent. An astonishingly low number of people have a legal electricity supply and the figure has increased by only three percent. This is probably because most migrants can't afford the high prices often set by the electricity providers for a legal electricity supply.

All people 15-25 years 40 years +
Much better 18 29 12
Little better
36 38 21
Same 21 17 31
Little worse 16 11 22
Much worse 9 5 14

This table shows the overall opinions of migrants and whether age affects the opinions. Upon first glance one can clearly see that age does affect opinions. The second and first highest opinions of the youth (15-25) find that it is a least a little better yet the highest totals in the 40 years plus categories find the living conditions the same or worse. As for the others interviewed the highest totals there found it the same and better. Many possible explanations may be put forward for why the elder migrants find migration less beneficial. Firstly, they have spent much longer living in other places so will find adapting to the city much harder. Many may have not had the same education as the younger people so will find getting employment much harder. The young people however have had the most recent education and have lived in the country or other home for a relatively short time. They have the optimism and relish the chance to manage on their own and achieve independence. Also they are younger so may be more physically fit thus able to do more physically demanding jobs.

CONCLUSION

I believe that la Esperanza is not a slum of despair but a slum of hope. It is whatever the migrant makes it to be. Those who are optimistic will find living conditions better. The move will not bring the "American dream" and it will still be very hard and living conditions will be pretty low. The only bonus it will be not any worse than previous homes and for those who jump at every opportunity and will work hard in the long run they will probably emerge with a better life. The older people who have been raised in other places will probably find adjusting to the life very hard and the skills probably known (agriculture type jobs) will be useless. Only the older migrants who can see the opportunity within and will work to adjust will find it better. Others will find it strange and disappointing.

 

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Alexander Claridge 2001 Mexican National Anthem (background music) FROM Multimidizone