Thursday, June 2, 2011

Lesson in grace under fire

Jun 1, 2011

MONTERREY (Mexico): The Mexican authorities have rewarded a kindergarten teacher who kept a group of children calm by singing to them during a gunfight, after her video of the incident became an Internet hit.

In the video, a frightened but determined schoolteacher is heard attempting to maintain calm among a group of children lying on the floor, asking them to join her in a singalong as gunfire shatters the air outside.

The teacher refers to the children as 'my love', 'precious' and 'little ones' during the stirring clip filmed last week in the city of Monterrey, in northern Mexico. The clip has gone viral, reigniting a public debate over the government's campaign against drug gangs and earning accolades for Ms Martha Rivera Alanis.

The Nuevo Leon state government honoured her for 'outstanding civic courage' in a ceremony yesterday.

The 33-year-old mother of two said she was frightened, but that her 'only thought was to take their minds off that noise'.

The song she chose is a Spanish version of a tune popularised by the children's TV programme Barney And Friends, and refers to chocolate droplets falling from the sky.

Ms Rivera Alanis filmed the video during a gunfight last Friday in which five people died at a taxi stand.

According to a local news site, she posted the video on her Facebook account before her permission was sought for it to be reproduced on YouTube. It has been seen more than 714,000 times.

'We do drills constantly, because the area where we are is a high-risk zone,' Ms Rivera Alanis was quoted as saying, while the children 'behaved in the way we had practised'.

Monterrey, a prosperous industrial hub, has seen a wave of violence as the Gulf and Zeta drug cartels fight over smuggling routes into America. The turf war has led to shoot-outs on busy streets, attacks on nightclubs and bars as well as 'narco blockades'.


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