Join Us in Creating «El Bosque de la Esperanza» - A Space of Memory for Victims of Disappearance in Mexico
¡La versión en español la encuentras en la sección italiana de la página!
Welcome to our «El Bosque de la Esperanza» crowdfunding campaign! We are Aline, Maevia, and Sergio, and together we have embarked on a collaborative long-term project with the aim of establishing and co-creating a virtual and physical space of memory to commemorate the victims of enforced disappearance in Mexico. Join us on this important journey!
Mexico is currently facing a humanitarian crisis, with over 110,000 recorded cases of missing and disappeared persons, and a concerning increase in the number of missing women. In a climate of impunity and lack of political will, families are left to search for their missing loved ones and grieve in isolation, often organising themselves into family collectives. The need for accessible spaces for remembrance, resistance, and mourning is urgent.
Through the «El Bosque de la Esperanza» project, we aim to address this pressing issue by establishing and co-creating a self-built and virtual space of memory together with affected families that can be accessed across Mexico. The spaces of memory will be decentralized, modular, and managed by the families themselves. By integrating transdisciplinary aesthetic approaches such as film, coding, design, and architecture, we are creating an immersive experience to foster empathy and initiate a process of rehumanization among non-affected audiences.
As part of a pilot phase, we were working together with family collectives in 3 Mexican states over the past year: In Baja California: Siguiendo tus pasos (Ensenada), Madres Unidas y Fuertes (Mexicali) and Una Nación Buscandote (Tijuana); In Guanajuato: Hasta Encontrarte; In Veracruz: Colectivo Solecito de Veracruz.
We want to work with as many collectives and individuals affected by this crisis in Mexico as possible, which is why we need your support! Concretely, we need to create as many more ribbons as possible for families searching for their missing loved ones (with over 500 families already part of our waiting list) and finish developing the virtual platform through which these memories circulate.
MORE ABOUT US We are a team of three people that are coordinating the «El Bosque de la Esperanza» project: Sergio (Design Lead) has been innovating memorials for over 10 years, Maevia (Documentation Lead) captures stories of resilience and dignity through film, and Aline (Research Lead) investigates violence to promote peace. Together, we are deeply committed to this project which strengthens spaces of memory, solidarity, and resistance for and by victims and communities impacted by enforced disappearances. Together we have learned from the lessons of memory sown across past and present histories in Europe and Latin America and are committed to continue serving, learning, and sharing with more project partners in Mexico and abroad. We aim to create future collaborations within International Geneva, the local Swiss population, as well as with different Latin American diasporas across Europe and North America through their participation in and co-designing of events, conferences, congresses, and publications. These collaborations will be reached through Maevia and Aline’s recently founded Swiss NGO, the Visibility for Transformation Lab (VIFT).
El Bosque de la Esperanza is special because:
Our project is a peace-building effort which focuses on opening avenues to access the right to memory in a context of overwhelming impunity and violence. The Bosque de la Esperanza connects physical and virtual works of memory through embodied presence and media technologies, rehumanising victims so it may foster empathy among non-affected audiences. This process is crucial to interrupt vicious cycles of stigma which often intensifies trauma and criminalization of the disappeared, which further erodes communities’ social fabric and, thus, exacerbates conditions for more violence to be perpetrated.
For this project, we have multiple outputs which accompany the space of memory:
Ribbons for Trees of Hope: We will enhance the distribution of specially designed ribbons for the Trees of Hope (Árboles de la Esperanza), a practice which has been taken up by many family collectives across Mexico since 2015. Each ribbon will be personalized with a laser engraving of the portrait of a victim and a QR code. These ribbons, when tied on trees, stand as powerful symbols representing the strength and resilience of the affected families, and creating a safe public space from which they may communicate with their loved ones, but also voice their demands and needs to governments and non-affected audiences.
El Bosque de la Esperanza Online Platform: We will create an immersive online memory space platform called El Bosque de la Esperanza (The Forest of Hope), connected to the ribbons through QR codes. This platform will allow families to construct and personalise their own unique memory sites made usable and accessible through the construction of a Whatsapp chatbot. They can upload cherished photographs, music, videos, and other meaningful materials to pay tribute to and honour their loved ones. Furthermore, this platform will facilitate collaboration and information exchange among different collectives across the country, fostering unity and solidarity within their communities.
Documentation and Knowledge Sharing: To ensure the long-term viability and widespread adoption of this project, we will develop several resources for documentation and knowledge sharing. These include a documentary short film which captures the essence of the initiative, a comprehensive methods manual outlining effective commemoration strategies, and an academic research paper summarizing the project’s process, findings, and challenges. These resources will serve as valuable references for other collectives, researchers, and a broader audience interested in implementing similar initiatives, enabling them to learn from our experiences and adapt the most effective methods.
Exhibition and Promotion: In order to raise awareness and promote the cause, we will organize exhibitions in multiple cities across Mexico, as well as in Switzerland and other countries. These exhibitions will serve as platforms to showcase our research and findings, effectively spreading the word about the memory space initiative and its context. By engaging diverse communities through these exhibitions, we aim to foster empathy, understanding, and support for the affected families and their quest to find their loved ones and achieve justice and remembrance.
This is what we need your backing for:
We need your support to make this project a reality for as many affected families in Mexico as possible. With your contribution, we will not only finalise the participatory research and co-creation phases of the project, but we will also develop a WhatsApp chatbot that allows easy and secure material uploads to the online platform, enabling the platform to be accessible to people with all levels of technological capabilities. We will use the funds for further research, prototyping, and finalising the virtual memory space platform so it is accessible to all the families affected by enforced disappearance in Mexico. Your support will empower the families, providing them with a dignified space to commemorate their loved ones and combat stigmatisation within their communities.
By joining us, you are contributing to:
- enabling the right to memory across Mexico,
- helping restore the social fabric of communities,
- fostering resilience,
- promoting cultures of peace.
Together, we can create lasting change and honor the memories of those who have been disappeared. Thank you so much for considering supporting our crowdfunding campaign.