“Before we were ignorant, but now we have learned about the reality of the world. About what mining means for our community — sickness, destruction of the environment, etc. We are learning in movement.”
~Guatemalan activist Felisa Muralles
I knew almost nothing about Guatemala, its culture or history before moving here in 2009. I didn’t even know that it shared a border with Mexico.
I quickly learned about the 36-year internal conflict, the State-sponsored genocide of untold thousands of indigenous Maya that had “officially” ended in 1996 with the signing of a Peace Accord. I read books, met people, absorbed a bit of culture.
I joined the service learning committee at the school where I taught and helped organize community service projects in and around the city, mostly house construction, painting or gardening work.
I ventured into the “ghetto” when I volunteered at Camino Seguro/Safe Passage, a NGO with a learning and nutritional center for the community surrounding the city dump. There, I spent several Saturday mornings teaching yoga to teenage boy breakdancers. In 2012, I taught yoga at a safe house for female survivors of human trafficking and domestic violence. They ranged in age fro 8 to 18 and were generally delightful. They loved doing yoga.
Recently, I’ve made friends with a 64-year-old gringa activist who has lived here for 20 years. She is involved in the campesino movement and believes in empowering sustainable family farmers. The rise of GMOs and monocropping over the past decade or so has resulted in disaster for farmers and consumers alike. Foreign mining (approved by the Guatemalan government, a government that denies the fact that there was a genocide in this country) is another major problem that the people are protesting (and sometimes getting killed for protesting, still).
The foundation of health and happiness is nutrition, after all. Guatemala has the highest rate of malnutrition in the Western hemisphere, yet the soil is fertile.
We the people need to learn how to grow our own food and provide it for ourselves, our families and our communities. We need to bridge the divide between “locals” and “foreigners.” We are all in this together.
There is definitely a “permaculture” movement happening but it needs to be spread more widely–to everywhere and everyone, including you and me.
I’m learning in movement—learning about seeds, biodiversity, ecological lifestyles. Learning about corruption, truth, justice, and what really matters: collaborative communities, connection with nature, changing directions, cultivating compassion, and supporting grassroots, local organizations and businesses.
Are you an activist, a pacifist, or neither or both? What are you learning in movement?