Dr. Surama Lima and Ana Cristina Marroquin intoduced us to a group of women attending one of the 14 workshops a year that are conducted by Esperanza, a midwife. The workshops address issues of: reproductive health, male violence, identifying risks in pregnancy and in postpartum, HIV and AIDS, and breast self-examination.
We travelled to a community called Cantel, just outside Quetzaltenango. The delegates crammed into a small room with at least 50 women and some children. Darlene was asked to greet the women in Ojibway and she extended greetings and solidarity in her First Nations tongue.
After exchanging greetings, the women presented a role play depicting a woman in labour whose husband was resisting taking her to the hospital, but eventually the midwife persuaded him to change his mind. As part of the workshop, OPSEU-sponsored visual materials in the form of booklets were distributed to all the women in attendance. The title of the booklet is: "Mayan women with rights to a life free of violence."
The women described their life as being poor and very difficult. Our presence was significant in their community, as this is an area that does not see any foreign visitors. Esperanza, the workshop leader thanked Horizons and asked for more support for the women, specifically psychological support as most of the women had suffered from physical abuse. One of the women had her severely disabled child with her. There are no resources or services for indigenous children with developmental disabilities.
The partners of PIES also organized a tour of a textile museum. We learned about the 22 Mayan linguistic communities in the country and the artistry, mathematics and holistic view of the cosmos that is represented in the clothing that is worn in each community. Unfortunately we discovered that several languages are on the verge of being lost. The Mayan women who ran the museum explained that they had started the museum in 2004 with the goal of promoting their culture. They were dynamic and engaging. With such limited resources the hospitality has been amazing.