It has been two months since my last post. Like many in the United States I have been wrapped up in the political campaigns - local, state and national. The theme of this blog came from my work with American Friends Service Committee before I went to Guatemala in 1969. One of the Quakers during our orientation asked us to build bridges, not walls. He did not mean physical bridges but bridges between people and places. The emphasis on building a wall at our southern border with Mexico and the kind of walls that Donald Trump has proposed to build to keep out - Mexicans and Central Americans fleeingviolence, Muslims, Gay people (and Transgendered also) plus the walls to separate us by class, age, gender, race and ideology. So this blog in two or three parts is my reflection on how we can build bridges.
The Sepur Zarco Case - Seven Months after the verdict
Maudi works as a community psychologist with ECAP in Guatemala. ECAP provides healing to survivors of human rights violations and sociopolitical violence. They work to provide treatment for those that have suffered human rights violations, with a special focus on women and Indigenous groups in Guatemala. Since 1998, ECAP has carried out psychosocial support to many victims and family members and strived to document violent actions, in addition to using research to help as many victims as possible.
Maudi shared the work that she does to heal the community. "Violence destroys the community so we do not focus just on the individual, but the entire community." She is working with the survivors in Sepur Zarco - although the women won the legal case, they have not yet received any community benefits such as a new school and health clinic as ordered by the Judge last February. She offers psycho-social support to the community.
Maudi adds -"women are not victims, they are capable of learning and doing. We learn that from them." We saw a short video of the trial and its outcome. The women covered their faces during the trial but when the verdict was announced, they removed their shawls. I was moved by the image of one woman - as she removed her shawl, her face was proud and her eyes and face illuminated strength. This is in Spanish but worth watching because of the images and faces. www.youtube.com/watch?v=lgCvx_ioOPk
Maudi's organization has its own website: www.ecapguatemala.org.gt/ It too is in Spanish. One question at her presentation was if the materials are available in English - NO, but there are many Spanish speakers in our country who could use the various resources found at the ECAP website - especially for immigrant women who has either been trafficked or sexually abused during their journey north from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
We can build bridges between Guatemala and the United States - to learn from their experiences working with women who are victims of violence. Many of the unaccompanied minors from Central America have also been victimized - why don't we invite the ECAP community health and healing approach to share their knowledge with us? ECAP is a valuable resource for all of us working with refugees and immigrants.
My life has been about crossing borders and cultures and building bridges across the boundaries that normally divide. Have you crossed any borders in your life?