Rogelio Padilla Díaz
This profile was prepared when Rogelio Padilla Díaz was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1996.
The New Idea
Rogelio Padilla describes his work among street children in Guadalajara as an "ambitious and demanding program, with an immense capacity for listening and pardoning." He helps the children to transform their lives by providing a permanent home and empowering them to an extent many would think impossible. The home fosters a new ethic and self-esteem so that they can build better lives and help others avoid the traps of street life. As he puts it, his program molds good citizens, good workers, good parents, good students, good friends, good Mexicans and good social leaders opposed to injustice and corruption.One of the distinguishing qualities of Rogelio's model is that he incorporates "street children" and "children working in the street" in an integrated program that nurtures and educates both. Street children, almost always boys, have typically severed all ties with their natural families and literally live in the streets. They are subject to countless dangers and bad influences and often have no hope of ever improving their lives. The extraordinary transformation that takes place in street children in Rogelio's care gives them a unique opportunity to help others. They bring their peers into the home and also organize programs to assist children working in the streets, who generally have homes to go to but must work at vending stands during the day to help their families survive. Rogelio's street kids share their stories with those who may be tempted to leave their homes for the "freedom" of street life. This counseling provides a powerful incentive for working children to preserve their family lives and assume responsibility for their futures. In essence, Rogelio's work provides an alternative source of the supports for children traditionally expected from the family. Within a framework of long-term commitment, he has reproduced the components of parenting and sanctuary in a model that is replicated by the boys with each other and adaptable to other organizations.