2010-2011 - Tarahumara Progress & Update

Mark returned to Navan in May 2011 after a tough year in Mexico and the US. "It's surely not getting any easier out there" he tells me at our first encounter when I asked him how he was.
"Dr. Worden has been working hard to edit and finalise my book ever since he visited me in the mountains last January.
I am very grateful to him for his time and talents in making this book possible."


October - When I arrived in Mexico I realised that my sister Miriam (66) was now close to death and lucky for me I went straight over to Arkansas to be with her till she so bravely passed away on ALL SAINTS DAY. She had requested that I would take care of her cremation--this was difficult as I did it alone.
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My older brother Hilary (above) had died the previous year having just reached 70. In the late 1940's there were 8 people living in our family;today there are two -- Richard and myself.
November/Decamber - I tried to start up a new project i.e.looking after that Tarahumaras, with soup and buritos, who had failed to get work in the apple-fields around Cuauhtemoc city. I refer to roughly 10 thousand dissappointed Tarahumaras. My advisers told me to back out of this project late in December as dangerous people were now in authority since Sep 31st.
I was in the seminary in Guochochi for Christmas Day and St. Stephens's Day as one of my 8 students studies for the priesthood there.
January - I drove to Chihuahua airport to collect Dr. Worden, University of Arkansas, as he had volunteered to spend time with me in the mountains. Together we are working on my biography which I plan to produce within a year.
February - The second half of January and all of February was spent in ice-cold conditions building a two- roomed extension at the Tarahumara Primary School in Nakasorachi .
March - I organised my 13th Tarahumara students cultural event in Huichaboachi,Guochochi (1--5th)
Mid March to Easter Sunday I was working in Huisuchi New Church - painting it and collecting tons of large stones as I need to surround the church with a strong wall, one which must last for 1000 years - yes a 1000!! As there is never a priest up there yours truely (and not for the first time) was honoured to give the insturction and organise the Easter Fetivities for the Tarahumara--where never an english word is spoken !
I celebrated my 70th birthday(the feast of St. Mark) with a few free days.
May---I visited the school in Choguita where I plan to hold my 14th annual Tarahumara cultural event in March 2012.
Then it was time for me to begin making my way homewards- first visiting  Dr. Worden,Arkansas, to discuss the progress on my book  and then made my way to Navan for a well earned rest. I am writing stories daily for my book,the bulk of which was written back in 1990.
I will be here till October 18th helping to raise the necessary funds to continue with my projects.

Mark

CONGRATULATIONS
to my Good Friend
   Bernard Colgan  

a long standing and staunch supporter of the Tarahumara Cause
will celebrate his 90th birthday later this year

Fire on the Mountain - In the War Zone
By Steven Worden - November 8th 2010
 
Okay, you are hiking in the Sierra Madre Mountains of Mexico, some 13,000 feet in elevation and you come across a small hut. You stoop down to enter, being careful not to bang your head on the ceiling that is only about 4 feet high. As your eyes adjust to the inky darkness you see smoke covered icicles dangling here and there from the ceiling reflecting a small fire guttering in the middle of the dirt floor.
Clumps of cloths line the walls. As you peer more closely, you see that the cloth piles are actually people.
One, an elderly appearing grandpa who may be all of 40; another wad of rags hides a wizened granny who may be 35. You continue to squint into the smokey darkness now making out, here and there, other family members. Welcome to the world of the Tarahumara. Welcome also to the world of Mark Brady.
Brady, today a hearty and outgoing athletic man who scarsely looks his age of 70, was just another privileged son of a well-to-do Irish family on holiday in Mexico some 28 years ago. As he conceedes, "I was just galloping horses around and drinking tequilla." But then over the course of several annual holidays to the Sierra Madres, he began to wander off the tourist track to observe more closely the natives and the conditions under which they suffered; tiny lean-tos thrown together, or caves if they were lucky, infested with fleas,open to scorpions, tarantulas,and snakes that kill in less than three hours.
As he now tells it  "I said to myself, surely there is something that I can do to help these people in my own small way. And thats's how it all began. Once I turned my hand to the plough, I never looked back. No one asked me to do it. I simply began without knowing what it would turn into", He adds almost as an afterthought "And I improved my relationship with my Creator"
What began with his early efforts to distribute beans, corn, clothes, soap, blankets and medicines to the Tarahumara Indians scattered throughout one of the most rugged mountain ranges in the world, deepened into a full-time obsession. For the last quarter of a century Mark Brady has lived the life of the Tarahumara. He sleeps on the dirt floors of the Tarahumara shacks, eats their meals of brown water with only a few beans floating on it, has suffered from scorpion bite, frost bite, and infected feet; all the while feverishly working to build huts, schools,water systems and churches, as well as continuing to distribute food, clothes and medicine to the Tarahumara.
A gifted musician and entertainer, Mark only returns to his home town of Navan, Ireland to put on benefits to raise money for the Tarahumara. An organisation that he founded "The  Irish Tarahumara Society, is his insurrance that the work that he has started will continue on a solid foundation. Mark also visits our area from time to time "to catch up" with his beloved younger sister Miriam Duncan. Sadly it was during his last visit that Miriam, a local long time resident and retired Air Force Staff Sergeant, passed away in the V.A.hospital under Mark's watchful care.
Many of his friends are hopeful that Mark Brady will not return immediately to Chichhuahua. The mountains have become as he terms it "a war zone" numbering more than 3,500 murders last year. Chihuahua is at the bloody centre of the drug barons battles. As Brady points out "more people have died in Chuhuahua in the last few years than American soldiers were killed in combat in Iraq. I know manyof the people who have been shot or decapitated."
Ominously, the drug barons have stepped up their activities in Brady's own neighbourhood. "Twice a day a Cessna takes off from the field behind the church I built loaded with blue plastic-covered bricks of marijuana. So when I hire men to work on my building projects the drug barons don't like it because it takes the Tarahumara away from working in the marijuana fields. It might be my own head rolling down a mountainside some day".
Regardless of what his future holds, Mark Brady continues to speak passionately about his life with the Tarahumara, thrilled to have been of some help to his friends in the Mexican mountains, "in my own little way" and as an example to all of us that one person really can dramatically improve the lives of a people the rest of the world has forgotten.
 
Steven Worden is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Justice at the University of Arkansas

Some Images from the past year....(Click on Image to see full size)

I wish to Thank Blanca Cardenas who took all Huisuchi Fotos while she visited Huisuchi during our Easter Ceremonies.

Foto No.1 - Shows new grotto,unfinished boundry wall; Large new white-stone crucifix; also small stone crucifix situated beneath the statue, shaped by Paul Smith a member of the Irish Group who were present for Huisuchi Church Inauguration in 2007

Foto No. 2 - Tarahumara congregation who travelled over the mountains to participate in The Easter Ceremonies

Foto No.3 - Part of the new Celestial  painting on the back wall of the church by Lobatos a Mestiso painter from Creel,Chihuahua. He is responsible for the front wall paintings in both Huisuchi and Basihuare Churches. Basihuare Church in 2002 and Huisuchi in 2007

Foto No. 4 - No priest present for Easter 2011 so Mark talks about the significance of  Easter

Foto No.5 - Part of the new Celestial  painting on the back wall of the church by Lobatos a Mestiso painter from Creel,Chihuahua. He is responsible for the front wall paintings in both Huisuchi and Basihuare Churches. Basihuare Church in 2002 and Huisuchi in 2007

Foto No.6 - No priest present for Easter 2011 so Mark talks about the significance of  Easter

Foto No.7- New stone Tabernacle

Foto No. 8 - Full Celestial view using two batteries for lighting. Juan Bautista Gonzales Ayala (known to his Navan Friends as JOHN in 2002) painted the cement beam in  rare Tarahumara writing which can only be found today in Huisuchi and Basihuare churches.

Foto No. 9 - Full Celestial view using two batteries for lighting

Foto No.10 - Herculano and Gregorio, two of our six resident church musicians

Foto No.11 - Shows the unfinished  crucifix painting by The Tarahumara on the floor


For Comparison These are Tarahumara workers (including John and Mark) beginning work on HUISUCHI CHURCH foundation in back in 2000

Foto No. 12 - New covered ceiling at the rear of the church

 

Foto No.13 -  Church-entrance-door decorated for Easter