Towards Western Guatemala, a mountain ridge rise upon the highlands. The Cuchumatanes whisper by winds “Welcome to Huehuetenango department”, and they do so in the following Mayan languages: mam, popti’, akateko, awakateko, chuj, k’iche’ and Q’anjob’al. Kilometres of mountains extend towards the north, with peaks rising from 1.000 metres tall up to 4.000 meters above sea level.
“K’anil is the sixth energetic spot in Central America”, states one of my colleagues, as he points his finger at a mountain ahead. He explains me that it is where the Mayan peoples have been meeting over the years, in order to ask the sky to rain and irrigate the crops.
We are in the car, traversing the hillsides through unsealed road. At our left side there is a ravine, at the right blocks of stone, detached due to past rainfall. A man overtakes us with his motorbike. My colleagues recognizes him, he is a teacher in one of the communities. After a while, the same scene takes place with a different person, a nurse, who is going to be helping us with anthropometric measurement.
We are about to meet the families, who have been reported by the community council in a food insecurity situation. We are in a public health facility, a small cottage that Elmul community people come to get medicines, but these are not always available. Families bring there their children for vaccination, but this time, they bring them so we can measure their weight, height and the circumference of their upper arm. At the beginning, 15 mothers appear with their children by their side. They are held back by the Akatek Mayan language called ij’banele, rebozo in Spanish language, a mayan fabric that allows women take away the kids with themselves.
We leave the community towards another one. I can see through the car window how pines forests rise up to the clouds. The landscape appears magnificent at my eyes, and it is familiar to me. It reminds me of Galicia (Spain), where I come from, as a Junior Communication and Awareness EU Aid Volunteer thanks to GVC NGO and ECHO. Collaborating in an humanitarian project has helped me to learn how important is to surrender to the present. It is hard to do so, because this means accepting my ongoing feelings and also what is around me, without being afraid of what is to come. This way of thinking is the key to understand the reality we are immersed in. The situations can be easily twisted, therefore, it is always important to have a friendly hand by your side. It is even better if one these hands are from technical colleagues who know the communities and understand people’s way of thinking when we give assistance.
In Malacatancito’s and San Miguel Acatan’s communities, people are living in extremely precarious conditions, most of them without electricity. Some can grow basic grains cops as maize and kidney beans in their own land. However, these communities are suffering a food crisis since 2014, fostered by climate irregularity. Their harvests have been severely affected by constant droughts, because they are near the ‘Guatemalan Dry Corridor’. Those who are most in need cannot face the lack of food by themselves.
We proceed on our way. There are more trees than settlements, thus, the most heard sound is the friction between the leaves and the wind. Those lands impregnated with calmness were the lands of plenty for the indigenous peoples in the past. The ones who remain, after the armed internal conflict, resist. Their silence is not a synonym of oblivion.