Peacebuilding en Las Américas

Sharing Bread, Sharing Peace in Guatemala

Peace Baskets Project PAN/PAV

by Lorena Escobar, AVP Guatemala Coordinator, Leer en Español

Students from Peace Schools project receive Peace Baskets. Many students have to choose between buying bread for their families or paying the internet card to continue their studies. Lago Amatitlan, Guatemala. 

COVID-19 is much more than a health crisis. In every country it touches, the COVID-19 disease has the potential to create devastating social, economic, and political crises that will leave deep scars.

Every day, people lose their jobs and income and hunger becomes more latent. There is a lack of medicine, water, and no way of knowing when it will return to normal.

The most worrying thing is everything related to the security of the living conditions of the population, which is a matter of human economy, because in countries like ours there is a high proportion of the population living in poverty.

In homes, confinement has generated fears, stress, intolerance, despair, inability to solve problems, and low self-esteem. It has generated intra-familial violence, such as anger, screaming, hitting, etc. The sons and daughters have had to drop out of school, and support their families by working in whatever they can due to the lack of food in their homes. They have had to choose between buying bread for their families or buying an internet card to continue their studies online.

This situation challenges us, as an Alternatives to Violence Project, to be the voice that encourages, motivates, accompanies, to be bearers of peace, solidarity and hope.

Our general objective of the Peace Basket Project PAN / PAV was, to decrease the levels of hunger and violence among the families in greatest need in the communities where the AVP workshops are held. In Guatemala, this project has already helped youth of the School of Peace in San Patricio Amatitlán, a group of women in San Jorge Amatitlán, AVP facilitators, and others in need.

Taking the time to talk with people about their experiences and feelings was very emotional. It was difficult to keep the indicated social distance, to wear a mask; not be able to shake a hand, not be able to give a hug. But, we were able to share a word of encouragement, hope, and ideas that are very valuable. We offered a message of peace, through a bifoliate to youth, women and men, the delivery of a basic basket of food and hygiene items.

67 families benefited from PAN / PAV peace baskets.

Due to the restrictions established by the Guatemalan government, large group meetings are not allowed. Five deliveries were made in small groups, a total of 61 baskets. The respective deposits were also made to six AVP facilitators.

The delivery dates were from 03 to 16 June 2020.

As the AVP National Coordinator in Guatemala, I am very grateful for Peacebuilding en Las Américas (PLA) and the donors because in the midst of this pandemic, we have found our shared humanity. The spirit of generosity, solidarity, brotherhood, compassion and love has emerged in humanity. I am very encouraged by the realization of the Peace Basket Project PAN / PAV, because we have seen how that spirit becomes existential, where physical hunger knocks on the door, and the need for a word of peace and hope cries out. Thanks to the generous hearts that with great love extend their kind hands to give. Thank you, because you donors are the cause of putting a smile, a look where hope arises, a voice in each young woman, man, who said: “Today, this basket will be the food in my family, it will help us because we did not have anything to eat because many people in the community do not have that resource, to have food every day. Our community has no food. ” Peace School student.

My name is Teresa. I want to give thanks from the bottom of my heart for this blessing that I received from you today. The coronavirus that came to our country is very scary for us because if we go out to sell, we are afraid that we will get it. I sell typical sweets by the lake. I no longer earn the same money that I used to earn. It is very little, but what else can I do if I have to bring food to my children.  I am a single mother. I have to leave my children alone in the house because they are not studying. They also help me to sell now. My daughter is 12 and my son is 14 years old. They prefer to go out and sell sweets at the lake for our little meal. Today I am very happy. Thank you to those who brought us these provisions!

Learn more about the Peace Baskets Project- PAN PAV 

Since the Coronavirus quarantine began in mid-March, national coordinators have been reaching out through phone calls to share positive messages of peace and nonviolent conflict resolution to neighbors, AVP facilitators and workshop participants. Scarce internet access rules out zoom conferencing. Together, they are devising creative ways to address the parallel crises of the health emergency, food shortages and family violence. They know their AVP skills and community strength is more important than ever now to respond to those in greatest need.

Since permission is granted to leave the house only in relation to food and essentials, the coordinators plan to frame their project for those families in need around food, which will be delivered as a peace basket to include food, disinfectant sanitizers and also messages of peace. Delivery of the basket will allow coordinating teams to determine any additional emergency needs of the family, to offer motivation, and to provide support contacts and emergency telephone numbers.

PLA is now receiving contributions for the Peace Baskets Project – PAN PAV. Our immediate goal is to raise $5,000. All donations welcome.

We are available to offer virtual presentations for your Meeting or group with our Latin American partners; if interested, please contact us to arrange:

To donate, you can send a check to the following address: Friends Peace Teams 1001 Park Ave. Saint Louis, MO 63104-3720, (314) 588-1122 or donate online.  Please be sure to indicate Peacebuilding en las Américas when donating! Thank you.

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