A Neophyte travels to Guatemala
Daniel Rogers, Secretary, Compassionate Eye Foundation
Of all the remarkable things I bore witness to in Guatemala on our recent journey on behalf of CEF, the image that sticks with me the most is the one above. I can’t shake the image of this beautiful young woman carrying who I assume is her child.
Guatemala is a challenging and dramatically beautiful place. Sprinkled liberally with volcanoes and hills striving to reach just as high, it is not an easy place to consider walking, but of course that is exactly what the indigenous people who live in the hills do. In the minds eye of a North American, it is a tiny country but the differences in the landscapes and ways of life are dramatic. CEF concentrates its work in a few communities in the Northwest of the country near the town of Comitancillo – if you find it on a map you are a better researcher than I. It is steep country, populated mostly by an indigenous people (Mam) many of whom speak no Spanish let alone English. The vistas are often breathtaking as is the mere thought of attempting to farm this land but these people do, almost every inch. What seems improbable is everyday life for our friends in Bella Vista and Loma Linda. When we arrive in Bella Vista, the reason for the work CEF does becomes readily apparent… the reception we receive is joyous and humbling in its graciousness and warmth. The school is the centerpiece for the community, which is more like a collection of 45 or so families. The children are remarkable in their openness – the parents often shy but smiling and welcoming. We are feted with song and dance and food and more of the same. We are there mostly for the children and I have many pictures of lots of them but the image above stays with me I think because it reflects much of what resonates for me from this trip:
- The remarkable beauty of the country and the people.
- The traditional costume (or traje) so lovingly cared for and proudly worn.
- The reality of a young woman already caring for a child.
- The child that will hopefully soon be learning in the school that CEF supports.
- The learning that is being echoed around the world by those in the development community that investments in women can have the most lasting impacts in communities.
I truly hope this woman is one that we end up assisting to make her life better. I truly hope to learn that when I next return.