After facing beatings, imprisonment and eventually exile from his home village, Lauro Pérez Núñez and his family are starting a brand new life.
He and his wife Amalia, converts to evangelical Christianity, were first ordered to leave La Chachalaca, in Oaxaca, southern Mexico, in 2015, together with their four children.
They were told it was because they no longer wanted to belong to the “traditionalist” church, which blends aspects of indigenous paganism and popular Catholicism.
Lauro was imprisoned four times in less than a year, and his cousin Misael was beaten while trying to defend Lauro’s sister from an angry crowd.
World Watch Monitor last caught up with them in May last year, two months after they’d returned to La Chachalaca, only to find they still weren’t welcome.
They now live in Ayotzintepec, also in Oaxaca, which is two-and-a-half hours away from their old community. After months living in a small room in the back of a church, they finally have their own home, built with the help of other Christians.
Their children – Alma (12), David (11), Arnold (9) and Levy (2) – are settling into their new school there.
And this year, Lauro and Amalia have started a family business, a small eatery in the centre of the Ayotzintepec, called “Maná del Cielo” (Manna from Heaven).
They offer a variety of foods, including regional dishes such as tacos, quesadillas, sopes, pozoles, pancitas, tlayudas, and cheese and chicken empanadas.
In a telephone interview, Lauro told World Watch Monitor that the idea for this business was his wife’s.
“At first I had another type of business in mind, but she persuaded me that this was better,” he said. “You see, we already had experience in this sort of thing because when we lived in Mexico City, we prepared and sold food to people there, the same thing that we are doing here.
“It is a simple place, covering an area which is six-metres long by four-metres wide. It has no walls but a chain-link fence all around and the roof is made of galvanised steel sheets.”
The property belongs to Lauro’s aunt. She agreed to rent it out to them, and the cost of the refurbishing work will be deducted from the rent, which is 500 pesos ($23) a month.
“Our vision is that with this business we will be able to make a living out of it,” said Lauro. “Ours is a big family with lots of expenses, but we are confident that God will continue to provide for us.”