Brayan Brito and Rafael Fernandez heard many stories of “strife, outrage, hope and determination” in California in February, and returned home determined to stand in solidarity with others, to create a world of inclusion and opportunity.
Brayan and Rafael represented Centreville Labor Resource Center at the World Conference of Popular Movements in Modesto, California, February 16-19. Organized by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the conference brought together thousands of people from around the world who are working on issues of land, labor and housing.
Rafael remembers a strong challenge from Pope Francis to the conference, “to ….recognize structures of society that encourage exclusion…and to recognize that we are the protagonists of change.”
“The personal stories from victims turned organizers, and the panel discussions on labor, land, and housing,” were inspiring for Rafael and Brayan.
Brayan expressed determination: “I learned that I play a bigger role in my community than I thought. I met people just like me who are fighting for reasons which are similar in terms of helping others, to give them a better living…..Our influence for the change that we want is as big as the passion that we have for it.”
Brayan connected this with his concern for immigration and for his Mayan heritage. “This event helped me develop my passion for getting the Mayan knowledge back to life, so we can have a better place in this society.”
Brayan is a student at Mountain View High School and a Board member for Centreville Immigration Forum. Rafael is a student at George Mason University, a regular operations manager at the Labor Resource Center, and a leader with the wage theft project, Centreville Commission for Labor Justice.
Both young men are strong leaders in Centreville, and CIF is proud of them!