‘Begin with the children’ — How one Chicago native spreads peace from schools to jails
Question: What do Rwanda, Stateville Correctional Center, the Cook County Jail, and elementary schools across Chicago have in common? Answer: Henry Cervantes.
A Little Village native — his license plate references “The Village” —Cervantes is a 32-year-old community organizer, activist and peacemaker. As program manager for Holy Family Ministries’ Peace Exchange, he leads two programs: 1) the Peace Builder leadership development program and 2) Speaking Peace, a child-centered peace education program.
In the summer of 2019, Cervantes spent two weeks in Rwanda with seven youth leaders-in-training — called Peace Builders — and three filmmakers from Free Spirit Media. Timed to coincide with the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the 1994 genocide against the Tutsi, the trip provided the West Side and South Side teens with a series of transformative experiences.