Guatemala was ransacked by a horrific civil war that ran from 1960-1996. During that thirty-six year period, the government committed numerous atrocities against the rural poor. “Our people were persecuted and our leaders disappeared,” Lucia recalled. “My husband was taken prisoner and was presumed dead. I found him months later very sick and malnourished.”
During those years, she was also driven from her family’s traditional land. Prime agricultural land was taken from indigenous people and given to rich landlords. Families like Lucia’s were forced to migrate and resettle in poor marshlands. There, they struggled to grow food and were cut off from community services such as schools or health clinics.
With her husband weakened by his imprisonment, Lucia would walk 15 kilometers to work as a laundress in town to supplement her family’s income, only returning home on weekends. It was a difficult life.
When a peace treaty was signed in 1996, Lucia and her neighbors hoped for positive change. “The government and private organizations came to our community promising many things that would improve our quality of life, but none of them fulfilled their promises,” she said.
“The skills and techniques taught in those trainings were really an important resource for me to develop new ways of earning a living for my family.”
Lucia’s life took a turn, however, when she was invited to attend a community meeting. World Renew’s local partner, the Asociación de Desarrollo Integral Polochic (ADIP), was at the meeting to talk to community members about trainings that they could offer on preventative health and sustainable agriculture. This was funded through World Renew's membership in the Foods Resource Bank. Lucia decided to give it a try.
She admits that her original motivation for joining the trainings was that she thought ADIP might provide some sort of handout to those who attended. She soon discovered, however, that the knowledge she gained was far more valuable than any handout.
“The skills and techniques taught in those trainings were really an important resource for me to develop new ways of earning a living for my family,” she explained.
She put this new knowledge to work by cultivating a small plot of land near her house and growing a variety of native herbs that could be used for cooking or medicine. Now, when she makes the 15 km trek into town it isn’t to work, but to sell her herbs at the local market. She earns enough to support her family. But it wasn’t just agricultural skills that ADIP taught Lucia.
“The trainings with a Biblical perspective changed my life,” she explained. “I now understand that as a child of God I am capable of achieving great things.” This is the heart of what World Renew is all about.
“The poor are often brought up to think that poverty is all they deserve,” said World Renew Director, Ida Mutoigo. “World Renew is blessed to help more than 460,000 people every year recognize their value as God’s image bearers and flourish as they discover their potential and God’s gifts to them.”
- For my family, as we are about to reach our first year in Guatemala, and we continue our adaptation into this country.
- For our newest family member, Aaron, born in February.
- For our partner agencies here in Guatemala.
- For the schools and communities impacted by the kitchen and classroom projects which Pease CRC helped with in February. Both were inaugurated last week.
In His Service,
World Renew Guatemala