One of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes for 2011 is Latina. Mexican psychologist Elena Durón Miranda was recently selected for her work with poverty-stricken children in Argentina. The CNN Hero initiative spotlights those striving to spur change in the world. A decade ago, Durón Miranda traveled to Argentina to research communities wrought with poverty. What she found were children collecting food and various items from a trash dump. Green sausages, a bag of noodles with cream, and recovered leftover yogurt next to a diaper, the psychologist recalled in an interview with CNN. The children later ate and sold the items for a small profit. “It hit hard to see so many small children picking through garbage,” Durón Miranda said—some were as young as 3 years old, while others had dropped out to school. “I decided that I had to do something for them.”
In 2002, Durón Miranda founded PETISOS (Prevención y Erradicación del Trabajo Infantil SOS or Prevention and Eradication of Child Labor SOS) to try to pull children out of garbage-picking and back into school. Funded by grants and donations, the organization provides free after-school programs and access to education, counseling and medical care to about 200 children. Together, Durón’s team (which includes a psychologist, social worker, and volunteers) try to push the importance of education to families who are serviced by PETISOS. “Education is how we start to break vicious cycles to give children a better future,” Durón Miranda insists.
Along with the nine other CNN Heroes, Miranda will receive a $50,000 grant and be recognized during the CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute, which will air live on December 11 at 8 p.m. EST. The network announced yesterday that online voting has begun for the title of “CNN Hero of the Year.” The winner will receive an additional $250,000 grant to further aid their cause and voting runs through December 7 at midnight.
See Durón Miranda’s work with the children of Bariloche, Argentina below: