“We don’t want Guatemala to be dirty”

Zuleika Lewis


December 17, 2009

“We don’t want Guatemala to be dirty because otherwise it would not be beautiful and people would get sick,” said one of the kids in our last day during drama class when acting out how Guatemala would look if everyone kept throwing trash in the streets. It was such a powerful moment to witness such consciousness, especially since it was coming from kids about 9 to 12 years old. It was also a moment when I felt that things could change.

IIMG_0350‘ve been in Nebaj for about a month and a couple of days and I have only seen a man picking up trash once. Honestly, sometimes I feel like, why pick up trash when a few minutes later I get on a micro-bus and about 2 to 3 people throw their empty plastic water bottle or the empty bag of Doritos through the window? People in general seem not to realize the harm to the environment they are creating.

Last week as I came from running around the beautiful mountains that surround Nebaj, I saw a plastic car for little kids with clothes and a bunch of other trash being burn in front of a house while little kids and other adults were watching the event as if it was such a common and normal thing to do. Last week in a meeting with all the GCY fellows and Erin we were discussing how through the Guatemalan’s eyes there is not much motivation to try to make a conscious effort to take care of the environment when there is not a system that supports them. In the states is so easy to throw away trash! and recycling is not that hard either.

On Monday we went on a campaign to an aldea about 6 hours from Nebaj call “La Parroquia.”As I was wondering where the trash went I walked outside of the Hospedale (very similar to a Hotel) where we were staying and there was a hole on the ground with a lot of trash inside. This makes me wonder how much the Government is providing Guatemalans with an alternative to throw away their trash. Situations can always go both ways. The more developed a country is, the more it affects the environment in a negative way with pollution from industries. But also the less developed a country is, the greater lack of resources and consciousness for the environment there is. Guatemala is beautiful !!! but the closer one gets to the road sides the clearer it becomes that they face big challenges to keep it that way.

Zuleika Lewis