COMMUNITY TO COMMUNITY:
SOLIDARITY: Being present, sharing the risks and struggles, responding and collaborating with an at-risk community in an environment of mutual respect and equality.
ACCOMPANIMENT: A non-violent response to threats and violence, providing a measure of security through physical presence and creating a space for Guatemalans to defend their civil and human rights.
EDUCATION: To continue to educate ourselves and others in the United States about the situation in Guatemala and the effect U.S. policy has in the region. To be advocates for peace, justice and respect for human rights everywhere.
A Short History of Guatemala
In the early 1980’s military repression rose to unprecedented levels in Guatemala. During this time, the U.S. government was supplying the Guatemalan government with military aid. 200,000 people were killed or “disappeared” and 626 massacres occurred in which whole villages were often completely destroyed. The indigenous majority was a target as the government believed their farming communities were bases for rebel groups. Thousands fled the country, crossing the border into Mexico. In 1992 these refugees negotiated with the government to allow a safe return to Guatemala. They began to return in organized groups in 1993 and have since been working to reestablish their communities in their homeland.
“International solidarity is not an act of charity: it is an act of unity between allies fighting on different terrains toward the same objective. The foremost of these objectives is to assist in the development of humanity to the highest level possible.” (Mozambican leader, Samora Machel)
The 1992 accords signed by the Guatemalan government and representative refugee groups ensured respect of their rights, assistance to begin again, and international accompaniment by human rights observers. The Guatemala Accompaniment Project (G.A.P.) was created to meet the needs of the returned communities. KGAP is one of many U.S. communities responsible for recruiting and financially supporting human rights observers (accompaniers) as they live for a minimum of 6 months in the affected Guatemalan communities. Recently we have been called upon to provide accompaniment for threatened individuals and organizations in other parts of Guatemala. More information about NISQUA'S G.A.P. program can be found here:
Accompaniment and Delegations
KGAP placed 13 accompaniers in Nueva Esperanza from 1995 through 2004. In 2004 it was determined that long term accompaniment in returned refugee villages was no longer necessary. However, K/GAP continues to collaborate with NISGUA to provide accompaniment where most needed. KGAP sponsored 10 more trained human rights accompaniers in Guatemala from 2004-2012 and currently we send an annual donation to NISGUA’s general accompaniment support fund.
KGAP coordinator, Connie Vanderhyden, has led or co-led 24 delegations to Guatemala to visit, learn, express solidarity, and return to tell the stories and the reality we have witnessed. Of these delegations, 11 included medical practitioners and 9 included local high school or college students. Around 190 individuals from the region have been participants on KGAP inspired delegations.
Scholarships and Education
K/GAP collaborates with Nueva Esperanza in an effort to support the educational efforts in the village in the following ways:
Every year KGAP provides a scholarship fund that now supports 25 high school students from the community of Nueva Esperanza-Chacula ($700/student/year for 3 years). They must travel to other towns or cities to attain a high school education. The total number of sponsored students since 1997 is 69. The number of females/males: 29 females/40 males (42% female/58% male). The education committee in Nueva Esperanza has also decided to use part of the scholarship fund in the community to help pay the costs for all students attending the Basico Institute (middle school).
*new school bathrooms
*lap-top computer and projector
*improvements to the daycare center program
*improvements to the safety of the school grounds
*additional computer for the students at the Basico Institute
Health Care/Village Clinic
Medical professionals from southwestern Wisconsin have donated their time and energy to travel to Nueva Esperanza, work in the village clinic and collaborate with the local health promoters and midwives. In 2001, in collaboration with the community of Nueva Esperanza, KGAP created a fund to help support the Health Clinic initiatives in the community and the region.
The following are examples of how our medical funding has been put to use:
*Yearly salary for health promoter attending patients at the community health clinic Monday-Friday from 9am-4pm
*Health education campaigns in Nueva Esperanza and outlying villages
*Emergency medical fund