Seeds of Truth: On our way to Guatemala
It was so exciting – and such a relief – to meet up with members of the KAIROS Blanket Exercise Youth Exchange at the airport this afternoon before boarding our flight to Guatemala. Although we’ve had several orientation conference calls and there’ve been blogs from each of the participants, which by the way you can find on our website, most of us have not seen each other since the Kitchi Blanket Exercise and facilitators gathering at the beginning of June in Ottawa. The Canadian part of the exchange was a chance for all of us to meet and for our Guatemalan counterparts to experience and learn about the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE). It was also a chance for us to coalesce as a vibrant and dynamic group. Now we are headed to Guatemala, equipped with our bilingual KBE scripts, which are hot off the press, to facilitate the KBE in Spanish and to work with partners to develop a Guatemalan script.
As a group, we’re already missing Emilio Wawatie and Gabriel le Fayant who were not able to join us for this Guatemala leg of the tour. But we feel they are with us in spirit, and we look forward to working with them on the follow-up when we return.
I am looking forward to seeing Ana Guadalupe (Anny) Matriz in Guatemala. The last time I saw Anny she was acting as an international witness at the closing of the TRC in Ottawa. Anny was at the mass KBE on Parliament Hill in June 2015 and as we translated the script into Spanish and watched the blankets on the Hill slowly disappear Anny said she could envisage a Guatemalan version of the KBE and that she would like to see a Guatemalan script. Her words echoed those of many of our partners and other KBE participants who have experienced colonization in their countries. This moment on Parliament Hill with Anny is in part what led this KBE youth exchange to Guatemala.
KAIROS has been working in close partnership with Breaking the Silence (BTS) on an interesting and innovative itinerary in Guatemala. I am so grateful for the partnerships, experience and expertise that BTS brings to this delegation.
We will spend the first few days at the New Hope Foundation school in Rabinal facilitating the KBE in Spanish and participating in a process to develop a Guatemalan script. In preparation for this trip we have all read Memoir Of The Rio Negro Massacres by Jesus Tecu, a survivor of the massacre who later founded the New Hope Foundation and school. We will then hike to Rio Negro, the site of this horrific massacre, and learn about the genocide of Indigenous peoples that took place in in Guatemala.
After Rabinal, we will head to Santa Rosa. Luis Fernando will accompany us to his community and introduce us to members of JODVID, a youth group that he helped found after the murder of his friend and environmental activist Topacio Reynoso.
You will be hearing from us over the next week as we travel together through Guatemala, learn from partners and communities, and share stories of colonization, resistance and the resilience of Indigenous peoples in Canada and Guatemala through the KAIROS Blanket Exercise.
Rachel Warden is the Women of Courage & Latin America Partnerships Coordinator.