Benjamin Ascencio Bautista
He told me that he did not want to work like a donkey. He wanted to work like an ox. An ox works with his horns. And a donkey works with his back. My son wanted to work with his head.
- Cristina Bautista Salvador
Cristina Bautista Salvador has worked hard most of her life to support her son Benjamin and his two sisters after their father left Alpuyecancingo de las Montañas, Guerrero for the United States in 1999 and abandoned the family.
Bautista herself was forced to leave her children in the care of their grandparents, and emmigrated to the United States in 2000. She had two objectives: to support her family in the present, and to save enough money to build a home for them for the future. She worked two shifts at fast-food chains between 7:00 a.m. and midnight, 7 days a week, until she saved enough money to return to Mexico. Cristina’s happiest memories are when she returned home and they began to build their house, brick by brick. Benjamin would bring water to the masons as they worked and would entertain them with his wit while Cristina cooked for everyone.
Benjamin never complained to his mother for her being away from the family. Instead, he was grateful, thankful, and followed her example. He would leave the house at six in the morning to sell the bread that she baked. He worked in a cell phone store and as a bricklayer's assistant to pay for his high school studies. Before entering Ayotzinapa, Benjamin was a community educator for the National Council For Educational Promotion, a public institution that trains volunteers to teach literacy in marginalized, isolated, rural and indigenous communities throughout the country. Benjamin taught preschool in Puente de Ixtla, a municipality of Tecantenango, Rendón, It was here that he discovered his vocation for teaching.
Juan Bautista Melchor, the grandfather who adores Benjamin, remembers how he taught him how to plow the earth but once Benjamin learned the alphabet, he liked writing more and would work in his notebook every day until nighttime. Cristina says that Benjamin has always been proud and stubborn. He is determined to have a family, and as a teacher to contribute something to his community, to his country.
Cristina feels that her son has taught her a valuable lesson. She now pushes forward with the determination of an ox, together with the families of the missing students, to strengthen her quest for Benjamin.r quest for Benjamin.