1. In Toconicapan, Eldon met a Quiche Mayan family whose mother is growing a sustainable vegetable garden to provide a nutritional diet for her family. She and the neighbor women showed us beautiful cabbage, lettuce, radishes, beets, and other more exotic, tropical vegetables grown in their own gardens. Her husband travels regularly to Guatemala City to work as a laborer loading and unloading trucks. This man already walks hunched over as a result of strain of the hard labor. Their 11 year old son has been sent to Guatemala City to walk the streets each day selling candy and gum to earn small change to help the family’s financial situation.
2. In Sibinal area of San Marcos, the group met Benjamin Padilla, Saulo’s uncle, who has a thriving greenhouse business with vegetables, flowers, trees and fruit growing. Uncle Ben has a tree nursery with over 50,000 tree seedling ready to send out to transplant on the mountain sides.
3. A man in the village of La Vega is home after migrating undocumented to the United States. On his trip through Mexico, he was robbed of all the cash he had brought with him. With the help of several friends he was able to complete the trip. He connected with his three brothers who were already in the US. He worked in a dry cleaning business in Atlanta and as part of an office maintenance crew in Miami. He was able to send many cash remittances to his family in Guatemala.
After five years in the United States, the company for whom he was working invited him and some coworkers to a meeting one evening. He discovered that ICE (US Immigration Services) were there and detained him and several of the other workers. He was moved to a detention center in Houston, Texas. For five months he lived in the detention center before he was deported back to Guatemala. This man is now a part of their community’s effort to develop fish ponds, sustainable organic gardens, and a tourist hospitality guesthouse.
Also in Tapachula, Mexico, the group met Father Flor Maria, a dedicated Italian Catholic missionary with San Carlos Scalabrini whose life is committed to caring for undocumented migrants. Father Flor came to meet with our group in the open air chapel of the sanctuary in his bare feet. His faith testimony and his stories were awe inspiring.
4. Families in the community of La Linea in Guatemala, with the help of MCC and a local partner organization, are developing green houses and beautiful flower gardens. These flowers are being cut and carried into Mexico to be sold in the markets. I saw bouquets of roses, chrysanthemums, gladiolas, and others.
5. One couple, Maria and Almulfo, have four children. They are now living entirely from produce they are growing organically on their property. Maria has a seedling nursery and provides vegetable transplants for others. She also has medicinal herbs growing and provides herbs and advice about their use to those who need in her village.
They have also joined the happy cow project which instructs people how to care for their livestock by providing a dry stable and bedding. The interior of the stable is built on a slant so the animal manure runs out into a special catchment area and can be used as fertilizer for their gardens. Maria and Almulfo have found the cows are much more content and productive as happy cows!
Maria and Almulfo are counting on developing their production enough so that their children do not have to migrate undocumented out of their village. Maria and Almulfo were enthused and eager to share their story with us.
The Old Fool will respond in the next post to James (Jim) Ranck’s comments.