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   WZM Award for Compassion 


WZM Award





WZM Award presented to Mariela Barrales - JAMES A. GARFIELD HIGH SCHOOL







Growing up in Mexico, my mom and dad were pulled out of school in order to provide financial support for their families. They never had the opportunity to complete a high school education, and consequently their lack of schooling greatly limited their options in the workforce. Now, my parents work as food cart vendors, selling various Mexican delicacies like “raspados” (shaved ice) and “elotes” (corn on the cob covered with mayonnaise and shredded cheese). They walk from street to street pushing heavy carts filled with corn, gallons of syrup, and coolers of ice. Although their work is long and exhausting, it supports me and my five siblings.

The physically straining work that my parents do everyday is the epitome of compassion. I have learned about compassion through their hard work. They work under hundred degree weather with a smile on their faces every day. Their determined and understanding attitudes never fail to brighten the days of our family and of their customers. They inspire me to show compassion in the clubs I join. One day, as I flipped through online newspaper articles, I came upon the article “Migrant caravans stall on border with no leaders and little hope.” The article highlighted the chaos at the border. My own parents, who were originally from Mexico, struggled greatly to get to the United States. I couldn’t help but think back to my parents and envision them being treated in such a cruel way. I thought about their actions, and their compassion, and decided I had to do something. As president of the Girls Build club at my school, I organized a meeting to discuss what our club could do to bring awareness to this pressing issue. After hours of discussion the club decided to create a film that would share the stories of immigrants in our community of East Los Angeles. I wanted to make sure others could empathize with the important stories and feelings of our community members, in regards to the caravan and recent attacks on migrants.

Compassion is working to better the wellbeing of others. It also means doing something positive for a goal greater than yourself. Today, compassion has become a lost value in our society. We need it now more than ever. Although several socio-economic reforms are taking place, there is still much work to be done. Unfortunately, we live in a society where children are locked in cells at the border, away from their families. Political labels have taken over basic human rights. Compassion is what we need going forward. We have the power to represent ourselves and our community through our understanding and kindness. In order to create true and lasting change, we must all show compassion in our actions, and work to improve our society for the better.


Ruth Ratna Handy, LCSW
(818) 834-5925


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