As the corruption and death rate in Juárez escalates and the drug war takes a toll in the Mexican border city, angels are flocking to the streets and crime scenes to bring comfort and hope.
Having grown up in the midst of the cartels war, they are local teenagers who have made it their priority to save their beloved hometown.
The first time Katie Orlinsky photographed these kids she was in the city on assignment, doing a photo shoot for a New York Times story. Her pictures show them striving to save their community by dressing up as angels in combat zones and murder scenes holding up messages of faith and kindness.
A while later Orlinsky took the opportunity to get involved, as a cinematographer, in filming a documentary titled “Angels at War.”
Directed by Connecticut native Jessica LaRusso, the documentary is slated to debut sometime this summer.
“This project felt like it was really meaningful,” said Orlinsky, who is a freelance reporter and has covered closely the Mexican war on drugs for the past three years.
“Covering the Mexican drug war, it gets bleak and depressing,” she said. “This story in particular was really exciting and it was rare and it’s still rare. It’s inspiring and positive.”
Orlinsky told Fox News Latino the project came to live a few years back, when LaRusso was struck with her Times story.
Last year the two ladies and three others crew members took to Juárez for a few months to film the uplifting stories from the “Angels at War.”
In a clip from the documentary – which already has made its way on YouTube – audiences get to meet Juanito, an angel that says he believes they can fight back with love, kindness and positive messages.
“Right here is a name. R.I.P. Martin,” a somber Juanito says in the video pointing at a wall in what looks a disheveled part of town. “[He was] a young boy that I knew from this neighborhood.”
“To lose a life from your community doesn’t benefit anybody. Now the only [thing] left of him is his name painted on this wall.”
In Mexico, the war on drugs has claimed more than 50,000 lives, with more than 10,000 of these deaths happening in Juárez alone.
The city’s mayor, Héctor Murguía, told Fox News Latino back in May of last year that despite the $1.4 billion assistance by the United States Merida Initiative to curb cartel violence, the funds did not help Juárez on a local level.
“The U.S. is the biggest consumer of drugs and their aid package is not enough for us to do what they expect us to do, yet the American media is so critical of Juárez,” Murguía said. “These people need to be more responsible and not criticize what they don’t know.”
The Merida Initiative was passed by Congress in 2008. It predetermined that funds would be sent to Mexico directly rather than sending Juárez money in the form of training and equipment.
The Initiative also presses Mexico to re-evaluate judicial laws, strengthen government institutions and abide by human rights.