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Pictures for Paz

Making peace happen for Ciudad Juarez, one auction lot at a time

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Michael Bastian, Eugenia Gonzalez Ruiz-Olloqui, and Thakoon Panichgul   
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"Bigger and better." That's how Project Paz co-founder Eugenia Gonzalez Ruiz-Olloqui described the organization's growth last night at its annual Project Art event, a benefit to support peacemaking in her native Juarez, Mexico. Co-chairman Adal Gutiérrez, who also spent formative years in the area, reminisced about the day Project Paz was founded: "I remember it was at Karla Martinez's apartment. It was a random Sunday morning, we had a lot of ideas, and tonight is the result four years later. I never had the dream of helping other people, but it has become a reality."

The dream of Project Paz is to end violence by getting children off the streets and into various creative after-school programs. Co-host Sofía Sanchez Barrenechea said, "I come from Argentina, a not-so-safe area, so I can absolutely tell you there is value in helping children."

One such program funded by the Project is a photography workshop where children are encouraged to shoot Juarez as they see it. About a dozen or so of their pictures—images of other children running, of barren landscapes—were part of the auction last night. Struck by the children's photographs, Jason Wu told Style.com, "When I was young, I was involved in various art programs, and nowadays, I am a creative. This project is helping to cultivate Mexico's next generation of creative people, which is crucial."

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