On behalf of our family we send greetings and wishes for good health to each and every one of you!
I know it has been a great while since some of you have received news of our family here in Santa Cruz K'iche' so we apologize in advance. I know a few of you have recently sent emails and concerns about our family given the recent news in Guatemala having to do with the San Vicente Pacaya Volcano erupting. The eruption covered much of Guatemala City and surrounding areas with ashes and consequently devastating marginalized and abandoned communities who have been already living in substandard conditions. Many families where left without a home to live in, and mostly without access to food and potable water. The highland region which is the region our family lives was safe from the volcano but not from what followed.
Like the saying goes "when it rains it pours" that is exactly what happened here in Guatemala upon the arrival of Tropical Storm Agatha which hit most of the country and again devastating many communities who lost their homes and in some cases their loved ones. While the storm hit everywhere, areas like the western highlands and coastal areas were the most affected. In the cases of some families, many had to seek shelter in whatever could block them from the high temperatures and sun that came soon after the storm. The area of Santa Cruz K'iche', for example, some families' adobe homes were flooded from poor or lacking drainage systems in the streets. In the case of one family, their home completely collapsed and had to pack the few things they had left in a pool of water.
For some of you who have travelled to Uspantán K'iche' I should let you should know that the bridges in Sacapulas collapsed and there is no way of getting through by car. The only way of getting to Uspantán is by crossing an old bridge (which believe it or not did not collapsed) by foot and thus getting to the other side and meeting a bus there which would take you up to Uspantán.
Now since some of you showed concern about our family and our extended ACG community, we are glad to report that no one experienced major trouble. And nothing has been reported yet from other ACG extended communities in the areas of Huehuetenango, Alta Verapaz and Ixcan. ACG's headquarters, and also the place where we live, did experience a few drainage problems as well as getting a few of our walls soak in the rain which caused a lot of dampness and coldness. In our two room apartment for example, the only room that got very wet was our bedroom which caused us to move to a hotel as we waited for the walls to dry. We were a little hesitant about going to a hotel measuring the damages and situations other communities were experiencing, but our concern was that my asthma would worsen since it had been acting up. Yesterday was the first night back after four days outside of our home and I had but a mild case of wheezing but am glad to have had my Albuterol spray handy. As far as Nicolas we were glad he had completely recuperated from a bad cold, days before the storm took place. He is lucky he had the proper rain gear (something his Grandma Canú found in a Chicago thrift store)!
Sometimes, I don't know if my asthma occurs due to weather changes or if it is related to the level of stress we experience living the life we choose to live. Just recently in May also, Santos, Nicolas and I survived our first car accident, which left the three of us shaky afterwards. Luckily, no one had major injuries. Together with our family were Santos' mother Josefa, his sister Vicenta, her husband Juan, their 12 year old daughter, T and 4 year old granddaughter. We all were lucky that the semi that hit us and dragged us quite a distance on a major highway did not end up pushing us down the ravine. As for the damages and whose accountable for the accident, this incident will accompany the many different cases that go impune here in the country. By that I mean that cases like this, or cases related to human right violations for example, are often unresolved due to the level of impunity in the country. In our case, for example, the semi that hit us bribed the police team who was attending the accident who declared that it had not been the semi's fault.
But not everything that happens here is gray, nor does everything gray happened in May either. The work we do here at ACG is most rewarding especially when it means going to work directly with ACG's communities. For example, in May, I worked with the women from ACG's small loan and savings project (MCA), by giving a workshop teaching alternative and cost efficient ways of cooking meals. For example, in the case of the participants they had previously expressed the need to learn new ways to cook especially when there is money to cook chicken, which is often cooked as a soup or fried which is a recent trend here in Guatemala and the cause of increased obesity and or other health related issues. So given this special request, the project team and I organized a cooking workshop that included, Grilled Chicken with Adobado Sauce, Stewed Lentil, and Cactus Leaf Salad. The work testified to the joy and wonderful experience all the women talked about as well as the success of the workshop.
As for other work that Santos has been involved here involves doing some consulting work for ACG in the areas of carpentry as well as doing some consulting for the women's micro loan project doing an evaluation of the project, from a small business point of view.
It is now June and we look forward to all of what remains of our next three months here at ACG and in Guatemala. While the opportunity for our ministry here depends greatly on fund allocation on behalf of Global Ministries, we look forward with great optimism that our ministry can be renewed for at least another year. In the mean time, we want to thank each and every one of our friends and extended family who have so generously supported our ministry through Global Ministries recently. Thank you for your commitment to the work and presence here in Guatemala. It has been a wonderful and fruitful experience being here at ACG and we look forward to the opportunity of serving for at least one more year.
Kind Personal Regards,
Gloria, Santos and Nicolas!
Gloria serves with Guatemalan Culture Action (ACG) as a youth and communication worker.