All In Part II

It’s the simple things: clean water, health, a safe place to sleep at night, education; and even more important than all of that: a community of relationships that help us navigate life. Right? We all need it.

The team at ACD devotes their time and talents to moving the needle of these basic issues in the lives of children in Guatemala. Everyone’s life is changed along the way, especially anyone who gets near the realities of life.

Migration is an issue. We know that too. The current culture in Guatemala has become: finish 6th grade and then find your way to the USA. No one tells you what that means, what risks are involved, what it’s going to be like when you arrive or what happens beyond the journey. And there are not many voices reaching other options. ACD is in this conversation and educating the little ones so they have choices and are prepared for life success in Guatemala. It’s is a beautiful gift – and it takes being “all in”. This is joyful but very tough work.

Classroom at ACD. Notice the train on the wall…teaching the safe and legal ways to migrate.

Children have dreams and someone needs to hear them. Hope comes when we believe something could be different. We humans will go to amazing efforts when a glimmer of hope is present. So – if there is no hope that life will ever be any different, and there IS hope that somewhere else you might have a chance of: work, water, safety, health, peace…. then you will risk your life to find it. It’s not hard to see how the cultural shift has happened. And who will help the little ones envision a different future? Who will encourage them to dream and then care enough to help them prepare to reach those dreams? Who will give their time and talents, gifts and love day in and day out? In this little spot of Guatemala, the team at ACD will. For us to be allowed a close up glimpse into their lives and the families they serve is an honor. They change our hearts and grow our spirits. Who would we be without them? It sobers me to even imagine.

The Lord hears the cries of the broken-hearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. – Psalm 34:18

I will attempt to offer a glimpse of reality. It is only a glimpse and my knowledge is always incomplete.

Walk to the main road

Water in this community comes from one spout on the main road. All water. So you walk and carry it back. Every day. For every water need. For months there is no rain so you do this in heat and dust and dry conditions. A bit like walking in the desert.

Cooking in this community happens over open fire inside the home. Smoke is a daily presence. Respiratory illness a norm. Cooking all day to feed the family is the work of the day. Getting water. Making food. Cutting wood. Carrying everything on your head or back. Every day. Every generation.

Homes are made from tin and wood. By hand and a machete. Sometimes plastic if tin or some other material is available. What you want is a house with solid shelter. What you have is more like a shed or barn.

Vegetables grow well here when there is enough rain. Big beautiful vegetables! Water must be carried in these poor areas where there is no irrigation. Farmers tend the crops. Agriculture is life. The fertile ground in the shadow of Santa Maria’s grand presence is a gift of God. The land is life. Water is life for land and food and all creatures. But water is not always available; droughts impact life & death; creatures suffer.

So the walk through the desert and paying someone to get you to a place of hope and peace is really not a big decision; it is survival and not wanting to wake up tomorrow to something you don’t imagine or think or dream can ever be different. Because it hasn’t been different for any generation before you.

And so…the trek begins. There are two priorities once you arrive; if you arrive. 1. Work to make enough money to pay the coyote who got you there (even if it cost you all of your dignity and spirit).

2. Work enough to send money “home” so they can start building a house.

And this is what brings hope that something might be different. A home means shelter. A home may have water near. A home, water and land may mean growing crops that someone will buy if the drought doesn’t kill them first.

When I spent a month here in 2011 my Spanish teacher shared that she had spent 2 years in the USA to earn enough money to buy a home. That home made all the difference for her family. And “family” included 3 generations who had a home because she bought it. With USA earned dollars. As a teacher. Legally. She had 2 things going for her: education and a skill that was needed. It changed the course of direction for 3 generations, and all those that follow.

It’s not an easy fix, and certainly not as simple as I may be painting the picture. Suffering is never easy. Solutions are often slow and small. But someone has to be willing to make one decision after another that leads to change.

The mining company that is getting rock from this land is part of the issue. They could put back into the community, something that improves the life of the people who are affected by their mining. For example, help the community have easy access to clean water. They could put some protections in their operation so when the rainy season comes there are not mud slides that literally displace communities that will be completely abolished with one slide. They could engage with living wage jobs, make infrastructure improvements (roads; water; etc.) … but instead, they mine in the poorest of communities where the people have everything to lose and nothing to gain.

And so…trying to get to the USA ..land of the free and brave sure seems like a better way than staying. Land of mountains and valleys and rivers and wildlife and parks and beauty and …peace. Even in the bad days, we have peace as part of our way of being.

The ACD staff team is “all in”. But they are not the only ones. These children have begun to dream. They tell us they want to be teachers and doctors and wildlife managers and engineers. They are also going “all in”. And one day… life will be different around them. Hope is rising. God is stirring their hearts and surrounding them with a community of people who will take the journey. And this journey is filled with Hope.

Here is an article recently published that shares about the situation in Guatemala.

https://www.theguardian.com/global-development/2020/feb/07/guatemala-hunger-famine-flee-north

Here is a link to ACD’s website:

https://www.acdguatemala.org

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