Day 4 was primarily a travel day for the group. It is hard to believe that the trip is already 1/3 complete. Although the days have been long the time has flown by. The morning was spent listening to a presentation and Casa del Migrante. The theme was systemic level causes of immigration and how that impacted Guatemala. The most surprising of the presentation was when the presenter stated 73% of Guatemalan workforce does not have a steady source of income. This reinforced the many aspects of social and political strife we have been learning during the first few days.
As previously mentioned, the group left Guatemala City for Xela (which included saying good bye to Ellen who worked with NISGUA and Martin our bus driver). The bus drive to Xela was full of twist and turns but not being able to sleep on the drive (I almost flew into the seat next to me a few times) allowed me to process the stay in Guatemala City. The first few days were very intense but set a good foundation of the many issues Guatemala faces as it moves forward.
I have spent my other blogs speaking of the systemic violence and political corruption of Guatemala so I am going to talk about the hope we also learned about. During our reflection session last night one of the group leaders pointed out the privilege and joy he has had working with some of the organizations we worked with and seeing how they have evolved over the years. For me this was a really important concept to keep in mind. I tend to be pretty pessimistic about real change and often grapple with the concept of what does change look like and when is it achieved. As the group leader mentioned, even though the violence and political strife is real there are also communities doing real work around these issues as well. Hearing the stories of HIJOS and La Puya reminded that even though one person or community cannot change the world, there is definitely strength and hope in understanding your sphere of influence and exercising your right to self determination. I have mentioned several times to the group that I value theory and literature of as a framework to understand systemic level factors that impact individual and communities but I feel being able to get your hands into doing the work on a ground level is where real change occurs. HIJOS and La Puya showed tangible efforts that are working in spreading awareness and causing change in their in their community. As the spokes person of La Puya explained, “it may not seem like much (referring to the approximate 20 km space the mine would occupy) but its ours.”