What is Left Afterwards

Zuleika Lewis


November 5, 2009

On tuesday our schedules took us to a beautiful little town call Acul where we had to do publicity for a campaign to promote the use of reading glasses for people older than 35 years old who has lost their vision with time. “Soluciones Comunitarias” the organization we do the campaigns with also gives protector glasses and drops for Carnocidad, which is a layer of skin over the eye produce by the exposure of too much sun, dirt and chemicals in the air. Carnocidad is a very common illness in rural Guatemala. I have seen people of about 35 years old with Carnocidad already. This is an indicator of contamination and the amount of hours that people work under the sun.

Ana, a 17 year-old women who is in charge of the campaign, and I walked on the streets of Acul for about 2 hours and a half giving flyers about our campaign and talking to people about it. As I walked and looked up the mountains and waterfalls I could not ignore the feeling of peace. But as I also looked down I notice the dirt on my shoes from the moody streets, a Mayan women with a baby in her back while gracefully taking all her strength to carry corn in a pot on her head. People would stare at us questioning every gesture and word that we would say with only an eye stare. Personally, I would not be surprise since the fears and consequences of the Civil War in 1996 (not too long ago) are still not fully overcome. In addition, it says a lot about the lack of basic resources that Guatemalans face in the present due to the short period of time since the war ended.

It was about 8:00pm and I was just done with my dinner of 5 Tortillas, rice and yellow beans before I decided to sit in the kitchen with my Mother Feliciana to make tortillas and practice Ixil. Since she works for the Board of Education here in Nebaj translating books from Spanish to Ixil I thought she would be the best one to learn Ixil with. From the topic of my fat Tortillas which were remarkable different compare to hers the questions of family members came up. She said that her husband was killed due to the conflict during the Civil War between the already adults son and daughters of the Spanish that had for slaves indigenous populations. In other words it was a revolution from the indigenous to the oppression from the Spanish.

Her husband was fighting against the Spanish not physically but he was the one that brought food made by Feliciana to the groups that were fighting against the Spanish. Many people knew what he was doing so the Spanish killed her brother and then putted him in jail. After he came out of jail he started to drink until he died. As Feliciana was talking her eyes were red not only from the smoke of the kitchen but also from tears. She told me that for her the hardest part was raising 5 children by herself. Also she was fully proud to say that all of her sons and daughter were already graduated from a Community College. Since then the few times I have seeing her our eye contact feels deeper than before.

Zuleika Lewis