Seeds of Truth: Reflection on the KAIROS Blanket Exercise Youth Exchange with Guatemala orientation

“These bean seeds in my pocket keep me mindful of Mother Earth; they keep me grounded.” ~ Hannah
“These Amaranth seeds are to share.  Go ahead, eat them.  Amaranth was once nearly wiped out in my area of Guatemala, but now the healthful native plant has been revived.” ~ Lilian

There were just a few actual seeds, but so many more metaphorical seeds of truth, friendship, and solidarity. It was the seeds of truth that first brought us together.  The KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) is less than an hour of truth-telling; a few small but crucial kernels of the history of Canada. A quick sketch on the chalkboard and a compressed overview of the history of Guatemala confirmed for the whole group what our Guatemalan partners had told us: the history of colonization, a history of attempted genocide, has so many commonalities between our countries.

We spent more time on the current truth and lived experiences of each youth.  A poem shared by Tyra about the strength of Indigenous women in the face of ongoing violence (Canada). A video of peaceful protestors, including Luis himself, running away as the bullets rained down (Guatemala). A story about a language learned as a child on the traplines that faded as Emilio entered the busy urban context (Canada).  A story of reciprocal relationships opening up with elders and local farmers, once Lilian learned the Indigenous language that was lost to her parents (Guatemala).  Both Joshua and Luis showing signs of strength in the founding of a youth organization that is contributing to broader community wellbeing (Canada and Guatemala). The commonalities and connections are not only in the history but in the present.

The first evening we spoke in turn, quietly listening as each risked opening up to total strangers.  By the second evening the laughter rang out as our communication grew – a Spanish word here, an English word there, an exaggerated gesture or facial expression.  Who needs a translator when you can laugh, smile, lend a hand, and share a hug?

The fertile soil of the KAIROS Blanket Exercise (KBE) Facilitators Gathering gave us the presence of 2 elders at our opening and 2 more at our closing and so many other rich lessons shared in between. We spent just 4 days together, our time so compressed, yet already there are glimpses beyond just seeds.  “These are forever relationships,” Emilio quietly said at farewell time and all agreed. Friendship has already sprouted and grown.  It will sow seeds of lasting solidarity beyond borders.

Breaking the Silence (BTS), our partner in the exchange and a Maritime solidarity network, has long supported the New Hope School in Rabinal, and the JODVID youth group in Santa Rosa – a strong, positive Canadian connection.  At the same time, the bullets that rained down were from the security force around a Canadian mine, Tahoe Resources, which is shaking down their houses and chewing up their country side. As Joshua said, the global community is an undeniable fact.  How we engage that community – with solidarity for justice or indifference and greed that breeds more violence – that we can choose.

The youth from Canada, who have experience with the KBE and the truth of that story, have offered their time and considerable talents to assist with the process of adapting the KBE to the Guatemalan story and context.  We invite you to

The seeds of truth have been planted; let us all tend and nourish the solidarity as it grows.

Read more about the KAIROS Blanket Exercise Youth Exchange with Guatemala.

Filed in: Indigenous Rights, Latin America

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