Rogelio Padilla Díaz, the founder of Movimiento de Apoyo a Menores Abandonados (MAMA), the highly respected organization that provides support for the legion of children and adolescents living and working on the streets of Guadalajara, died this week at the age of 62.
A sociologist, Padilla was a pioneer in his field, known as a fierce defender of the rights of children living in precarious situations. His hands-on approach to channeling young people away from such a dangerous life proved far more successful than the vast majority of government-sponsored initiatives.
For the past three decades, more than 5,000 children and adolescents have received help through MAMA in the form of shelter, alimentation, clothing and education.
In social media messages, the Guadalajara Family Development Agency (DIF) commented on Padilla’s “great legacy,” while Jalisco Education Secretary Francisco Ayón said he leaves behind “an indelible footprint.”
Known to his young charges as “Mairo,” Padilla was easily recognizable by his long, dark hair and beard, indigenous-style clothing and huarache footwear.
In a Facebook post, Lupita Castillo wrote: “Gracias Rogelio for everything that you did for me, and everyone that you cared for and supported without conditions. Really you were like a father and mother; you worked hard and ceaselessly. Your children will remain, taking care of you while you sleep. Rest in peace.”
Padilla was the recipient of many awards and accolades for his commitment to the defense of human rights.
For more information on the work of MAMA and how to donate or assist, visit www.mama.org.mx, or their Facebook page.