Sunday, March 7, 2010

A Friendship with a Remote Mountain Village

A few months ago we had a German visitor who was referred to visit our Clinic by the Health Association we have been a member of for over 30 years. He is a Journalist and he wanted to report on the life of the coffee picker, and our mission is near several coffee plantations. His report appeared recently in a Guatemalan newspaper, and was very informative and also critical of the suffering and wages of the coffee pickers.

This visitor also had interest in our Health projects, especially our ONIL stoves that save wood, prevent burns and eye disease. He had adopted a group of 14 families during the armed conflict of the eighties and nineties. When this group of families were dispossed of their land, he purchased land high in the Quiche mountains that they had chosen. The area is very isolated; they use solar light, have fresh healthy spring water, no road into the community, they must walk two hours. Their homes are very humble, dirt floors made mostly from wood and tin roofing; he constructed a very basic structure for a school and got the government to allot one teacher. Their community has 70 persons, including women and children. There is one small store with minimal products. Market day is in a plantation that they must walk out to once a week. They have fertile soil and plant corn, coffee, beans and trees. Their land in on the side of a mountain. They have no clinic or medicine available in their community. They formed this new community seven years ago and named it WACHALAL, which in their Mayan language translates for "BROTHERS". They all speak Mayan Quiche, the same indigenous language that is spoken here.

His proposal to our Clinic was that he would purchase 14 stoves for the families of the community he supports from our clinic and if we would deliver the stoves to the community he would donate 1,200. dollars additional for our Nutrition Project. Our administrative team agreed to this proposal, not for the financial assistance to our clinic, but more of interest of collaborating with a community living isolated in the mountains. We knew we would benefit from this friendship.

Three of our workers delivered the first eight stoves to the community with our pickup truck. Our new German friend Andres also went on this journey. It was a three day adventure and Chico provided the others of the clinic with a report and pictures.