I find myself waking up each morning, and within seconds, suddenly remembering the ongoing situation we are facing. The impact of COVID-19 on those of us here in the United States is unprecedented: lives lost, jobs vanished, plans put on hold. As the virus spreads, I fear for what the people of Guatemala might face. The reality that could unfold there may be even more dire.
As of this writing, there are just 70 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Guatemala. That number is certain to climb. The Guatemalan government has taken this emergency seriously, closing borders, enforcing curfews, and declaring a country-wide stay-at-home order.
As a result, daily life in Guatemala has changed significantly. Rosario has closed her clinic. The Association has suspended all activities, meetings, and trainings. AJPU has halted the production of stoves. CEDEPCA has canceled all trips scheduled for this spring and summer, and their staff is working from home. These are worrisome times indeed, with the ripple effects of this pandemic not yet fully realized. We look forward to the day when life returns to normal.
But even in these uncertain times, there is a certain hope. As I’ve talked with our Guatemalan friends in recent days, they have helped me realize that even in darkness, God’s light shines. The work we have done together over the years – as partners – is continuing to bear fruit.
The day before Guatemala was placed under curfew, CEDEPCA’s Disaster Ministry team delivered seeds to members of the Association, so those women will be able to grow their vegetable gardens this year and feed their families. Carlos, our agroecology expert, has been in touch with these women by phone, checking to see if the rains have come yet and advising them when to plant.
Vicente and Alfredo of AJPU were able to deliver yet another order of fuel-efficient stoves to a community just prior to the shelter-in-place mandate.
Through the Association’s microloan program, a significant number of women now own livestock that can help sustain them during this crisis.
And perhaps most fitting, many women in the Association have graduated from CEDEPCA’s training called Resilience in the Face of Crisis. This six-session empowerment course teaches women how to develop and implement an emergency plan for their community, protect themselves from violence, support each other emotionally during adversity, and advocate for their rights under Guatemalan law. In sum, these women have tools and resources at hand to help them navigate this challenging time.
Even as we witness the fruits of our combined labor, we are not standing still. Our work continues. Over the coming weeks, we will keep you up-to-date about the situation on the ground in Guatemala and highlight specific actions our partners are taking to respond to this crisis.
How can you help? First and foremost, pray. Pray for our sisters and brothers in Guatemala. And if you have a prayer partner, perhaps pray for him or her more often. Second, please continue your financial support of this partnership. Undesignated gifts to our general fund are most helpful right now, allowing us to direct funds where they are needed most at any given time. You can make a gift here.
We are grateful for your unwavering support of the Guatemala Partnership of New Castle Presbytery. Please stay safe and stay healthy.