Tuesday 21 August 2007

Chiva: A Village Takes on the Global Heroin Trade by Chellis Glendinning

Photo Sharing and Video Hosting at PhotobucketPublished by New Society Publishers

Chiva is the true tale of the village of Chimayó and it's battle against drugs, mainly heroin. Chimayó is in the state of New Mexico which at one time was ranked #1 in per-capita deaths from illicit drug overdoses. More accurately, Chimayó is within the county of Río Arriba which ranked #1 in the state for the same thing, leading all other counties by more than 5 to 1. In addition Río Arriba ranked #2 in DWI deaths and had a murder rate of three times the state average. To say the area was troubled is putting it mildly.

Within this book the author provides an enlightening history of the global heroin business and its impact upon the places involved. The author also shares the string of events that led to Chimayó's citizens finding new hope and determination in ending the terror that was inflicted by the drug dealers. Their success at driving the problem from their village by a return to old values and a strong sense of community is hopeful, as is the personal journey of a young man named Joaquin who struggles with his heroin addiction.

This book was an interesting read from the start. It has a wealth of information which will provide much food for thought, regardless of your stance on the issue of drug abuse. Even though the book grabbed my interest, I did have a slight problem getting into it at the start. A great deal of facts and figures are tossed at the reader but it didn't take me long to adjust, and once I did it was an enjoyable, if somewhat disturbing read.

I loved that in the book, the community - of which the author is a member - joins together to solve the problem. Most surprising for me, leaders and members alike, of various religious groups joined together for the good of everyone. It's refreshing to hear about such a union. Imagine it, 450 or so people from various faiths: Catholic, Tewa, Jewish, Sikh, Muslim, Aztec, Pentacostal and Protestant walking together along the highway to pray for an end to the violence in their town.

I couldn't help but feel a sense of longing, as well as hope. If a village so troubled can come together and work through some extreme circumstances, then surely other places around the world can follow their example to deal with their own local issues. Granted, I am one of those positive people who tries to see the bright side of everything and the good in everyone, but it's a nice dream regardless.

This is one of those books that will definitely leave behind a trail of contraversy but regardless, the message is one that will inspire the reader to desire a better world. At least, that's what it did for me.

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