Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Independence Day, our Town and its People

 September 15 is INDEPENDENCE DAY, in Guatemala.  It is a National Holiday that features school students, dressed in their finest or new uniforms, marching to the music of drums and trumpets. It is not a day to have your car on the road.  Streets are crowded and food booths, fire works, bombs add to the festivities. During the past week, students also traveled to distant communities, on excursions. They return to the town in buses and trucks, some running ahead of the vehicles, with torches and horns blaring. For the parents, these festivities are an expense, which  most cannot afford, but somehow, the students all participate. Sacrifices are made.

This year, our town of 13,000, was more festive. The new mayor has an active interest to improve our community and it is very visible to the people. Certainly more young people have the opportunity to study, especially the girls, which is a blessing. Years ago when our Mission began in 1964, education was barely available to the Mayan and the poor. Yet unemployment is still rampant and poverty is increasing. Opportunities are not increasing at the level of the number of students, who are graduating from Secondary level. Internet cafes are available and the youth take advantage of the opportunity. Cell phones are very prevalent in the hands of the younger generation. Our Mission maintains a Junior, Senior High school, in a neighboring mountain village, with approximately 450 young mayan students. Hundreds of vehicles are now owned by the local people,  a huge improvement for the population

Violence is less prevalent in our area but not true for the country in general. Extortions, asassinations, robberies are a daily reminders in the newspapers.  Health Care is not available to the Poor, as it should be.  Hospitals and Government health Centers are always with minimal supplies and personnel and the Poor depend on alternative clinics or die young, from curable diseases. Hunger is very prevalent and Guatemala has one of the highest incidence of chronic child malnourishment. Tuberculosis is making a come back in mountain villages and towns. Aids is more diagnosed among the younger population and much education is lacking to prevent this disease.  ALL IS NOT WELL.

However, my conclusion is that YES, the population is better off, than forty years ago. Guatemala has a long way to go to be a peaceful, just society for all the population. Prayers, justice and economic opportunities are in vast need to achieve this change. International justice lacks for GUATEMALA in this very GLOBAL WORLD. Thank You for your presence in our lives and for helping us, help others.