Latina Selected as One of CNN’s Top 10 Heroes

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.” 

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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.

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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: