I visited Guatemala for my third time during July 25-30, 2001. My main purpose was to visit two projects in Quetzaltenango that I collaborate with (La Pedrera, and Pasac Segundo [see also Friends of Pasac Segundo]) and to see my Ahijada Ana Fabiola Sutuj Aguilar. I also briefly visited Padre Gregory Schaffer's mission in San Luis Toliman on the shores of Lago Atitlan to extend my greetings.
Following is a brief "photo essay" documenting this trip. Some photos are self-describing only to the extent that file names may be somewhat descriptive. Click a thumbnail below to view a larger photo.
The La Pedrera's community in Quetzaltenango proudly dedicated a new building ,on July 26, 2001, to house various activities of the La Pedrera project. It is owned by Julio Batres of Casa Xelaj˙. The ribbon cutting (L-R Magdalena Salazar, Julio Batres, Mike Baird) , and speeches were attended by approximately 100 wonderful people , including Democratic State House Representative Gloria Leyba of Colorado , and dedicated local volunteers (L-R Elizabeth Jenner and Stephanie Lindquist) . Presenting one of several speeches was my Ahijada Ana Fabiola Sutuj Aguilar, shown here with her mother Gumercinda Aguilar and with me (Mike Baird) between them here . Here, Ana is shown again with her mother, and my very good new friends Elizabeth Jenner and Stephanie Lindquist . Elizabeth and Stephanie are the primary movers of the well-regarded Friends of Pasac Segundo project (more on this project, below). Many women worked hard to prepare some find typical food for the attendees of the La Pedrera building dedication .
At Pasac Segundo, amazing things are happening. Roselia Raymundo , the community leader, and President of the Parent's Committee, hosted our visit, starting in her home . We visited the bakery , the new sewing coop , one of about a dozen new school rooms , homes of typical families ,and the "famous" location where "a rock even God could not move" challenged volunteers clearing the land for additional classrooms. Kudos to the sincere volunteers who were working at Pasac, including (L-R Stephanie, Elizabeth, and, shown for the first time on this page, Lauren Baer) these women . Ana visited the project with us, and is shown here with Elizabeth . Shown here are some of the children of Pasac Segundo (Elizabeth w/ Jakeline) . Lauren is shown here with the child Jakeline . All now attend school, and some are receiving special medical care. The Pasac parent's committee was using a laptop computer that I had earlier donated, to prepare grant proposals and promote their projects in a variety of ways. An unlikely fixture in Pasac's dirt and concrete-floored buildings, these computers and the Internet are quickly becoming essential tools for even the most remote of organizations. We also made a special cash donation to the committee.
A visit to Ana's home (whom I've sponsored since 1996) (L-R mother Gumercinda, Ana, father Ismael Sutuj L˛pez) involved a quick "tune-up" of her now ancient Windows 95 PC, which was, however, equipped with a new printer. Ana uses the Internet at language schools in town to, among other things, download poems from Pablo Neruda, and print them out at home for her reading enjoyment. Ana's mother prepared a great lunch (almuerzo) from chicken and avocados we purchased at the market earlier in the day. We also purchased some books for Ana, including Moby Dick and some Deepak Chopra.
Ana graduates from "high school" August 2001, and hopes to study at the university starting January 2002.
12/01 Contribute to Ana Fabiola Sutuj Aguilar's Education Account
|We opened a small bank account to
help facilitate her education. Here, for future reference, is the
information required to wire money to this account.
Banco de Occidente
4 Ta calle 11-38 zona 01, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (Central America)
ABA S455BOGU (Transfer Code) (No. de Abac.)
Account holder: Gumercinda Aguilar (Nombre de la Cuenta)
Bank Account Number 0000623231 (No. de Cuenta)
The last day, we "vacationed," and took a day trip with Ana, Elizabeth, Stephanie, and Lauren to Panajachel on Logo Atitlan , where local color abounds
Nearby, we also visited Padre Gregory Schaffer's mission in San Luis Toliman on the shores of Lago Atitlan. We missed him by an hour, as he was at a Santiago Atitlan church dedication honoring the casualties of Guatemala's vicious civil war (see postscript below) -- but, we nevertheless managed to get an update on his activities, and left a cash donation to his good cause, which he has been working on for 37 years now. I understand that approximately 5000 people worldwide donate on average $100 a year to Father Greg's mission. UPDATE 2008: See San Lucas Mission at sanlucasmission.org
The bus ride back (L-R Mike, Ana) (L-R Stephanie, Ana) ("sitting seven-per-row ") to Quetzaltenango (Xela) yielded some new friends admiring my digital camera.
Finally, we made a quick reunion visit to the Irma and William de Rivera family , where I stayed for two weeks during my home stay in 1996. 8 Calle 6-05 Zona 1, Tel 761-6677. firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Postscript Two indigenous women observe the remains of a relative in a small coffin in the village of Santo Tomas Chiche, Guatemala, 180 kilometers (112 miles) west of Guatemala City, Wednesday, June 13, 2001. This is one of the 28 bodies discovered by the Forensic Foundation of Anthropology which were part of the victims of the massacres of Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war. (AP Photo/Jaime Puebla)