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Colectivo Solecito: The 2018 Notre Dame Award Winner

The Notre Dame Award is given annually to a person or group of people who show exceptional dedication to the ideals of the University. It recognizes international humanitarian efforts, especially in areas of faith, justice, and peace. Past recipients of this award include Mother Teresa and President and First Lady Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

A few weeks ago, Notre Dame President Fr. Jenkins traveled to Mexico to give the 2018 Notre Dame Award to Colectivo Solecito de Veracruz, a group of mothers searching for their disappeared loved ones in Veracruz, Mexico. This was the first time the award was presented to an individual or group from Mexico. The award was celebrated with a ceremony and mass.

Colectivo Solecito has been tirelessly looking for their missing loved ones since they began as a group of only eight mothers in 2014. Most of the disappeared have gone missing as victims of crime, and no trace of them has been found. The mothers began to dig in areas that were rumored to be mass graves in the attempt to find their loved ones and started to raise funds for their searches due to the lack of recognition or funding from the justice system in Veracruz.

Many of these women join the group because a member of their family has gone missing. They knew that the authorities were not going to look for their missing loved ones, so they took action. It is common for drug and kidnapping gangs in Mexico to use pits to hide bodies of their victims. Currently, there are about 37,000 people who have disappeared in Mexico, and these women are trying to find them. This is a chance for these women to receive closure or to help others do so. This group is trying to find justice for the victims and their families.

In 2016, Colectivo Solecito received a map from an organized crime source depicting the locations of over 120 clandestine graves in an area in Veracruz. This search effort has led to the discovery of about 300 bodies and thousands of fragments of remains. Because of this big breakthrough, Colectivo Solecito now has the assistance of the authorities in the process of removing the remains.

The problem of disappearances is a problem greater than the area of Veracruz, and Colectivo Solecito is a great example of those groups on a greater scale. Colectivo Solecito, due to their big breakthroughs in the number of bodies found, has now received the help of the authorities, which is rare in the case of these kinds of groups. This group, despite all aspects working against them, is doing very well in taking matters into their own hands.

The group was presented with the award due to their awe-inspiring efforts. They do absolutely everything they can to find the missing – from fundraising to walking around the countryside looking for burial pits to pressuring authorities to identify the bodies found. These women have taken action in a situation that seems to be without much hope, but they have faith and believe in their cause.

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