The Odyssey
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Latin America Monica Dispatch

Monica is in the very interesting position of getting to live and work with members of an important group in Guatemala - GAM, the Mutual Support Group. They are a human rights group, and their focus is primarily on helping support the families of people who "disappeared" during the Civil War. In other words, they help the people whose family and friends were kidnapped and tortured and have not been seen again! Monica will be reporting on what these people are doing and providing suggestions on how you can help them, or get involved in similar issues in your community!

Posing and Shopping in Guatemala

Boy Outside
Boy Outside

Yesterday I met with Mario at the GAM office. We took the 4-hr bus ride to Sololá, and then another 30 minutes to Concepción, where I'll be living for the next 3 weeks and working with the GAM programs in education, agriculture, and health. Concepción is in the Lago de Atitlan area, a beautiful region near the lake, surrounded by mountains.

Mario is 19 and lives in the south coast of Guatemala with 4 brothers and 1 sister. However, during the week, he works in Concepción as a maestro, or teacher. He has a class of 27 students, all Cakchiquel Indians, ranging in age from 7-12, and he teaches five subjects: Mathematics, Social Studies, Natural Sciences, Human Formation, and Spanish. Classes are at night from 4 to 9 pm.


Children
Children
We arrived in time for dinner, and I became a source of amusement when I set up my hammock in a corner of the building where GAM rents office space. I met Luis, 15, who was intrigued by the parachute cord that Abeja loaned me for the hammock. Luis has two other people in his class because he is in a higher grade, and they start at 7 in the morning.

At the little comedor where we eat, one of Mario's younger "alumnos," or former students, Alexander, played hide-and-seek with me. Mario and his friends: the sisters Maribel, Nora, and Gladys Gisela, all love the digital camera, and even though some were shy at first, they enjoyed posing for pictures.

Pots
Pots

This morning Mario and I went to the mercado, or market, in Sololá, which on Fridays is one of the biggest in this region. We took the truck that passes by, fitting 15 total people, and a bicycle, in the back!

I was craving a lime popsicle for some reason, but this market caters to locals. Think fruits, vegetables, chiles, rope, matches, earthenware pottery, shoes, sandals, huipiles, bags, pants, dried fish, peanuts, and glassware. I needed to find a mochila, or backpack, because mine was too small, and found one for 50 quetzals, about $7 US. However, when I went to pay, the mochilo-seller saw my pocket flashlight, which I decided to sell to him for 10 quetzals! It was an even trade.

Monica


 
 
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