A podcast by Emily Francona and Dan Smith
In our work as podcaster’s we interview hundreds of people in many different situations. Sometimes you find a common need that transcends borders. Something very surprising.
If you were poor and had nothing, what would you want most?
Emily Francona interviewed Frances Dixon from Adopt a Village in Guatemala. With the help of Mike McColm from Yakum, I interviewed Sonya Yumbo in the Kitchwa village in Ecuador. Two different people, two different continents, one common request.
My name is Frances Dixon. I’d arrived in the midst of a Civil War and it was just, it was not just any old Civil War. This was a war of genocide. It was a war of genocide against Guatemalas indigenous people.
The Peace Accords were signed in 1996 and I had been working in a small village for seven years and basically it was kind of like marking time for the end of that war, because I knew there were tens of thousands of refugees that had fled to Mexico, United States, Canada. More of them hidden in the mountains. And I knew that when the war ended, most of them would come back and really that’s where my focus and my desire was, was to help the returning refugees. And when that day came, I set out with a couple of Staff people close to the Mexican border where they were coming back and began to meet with the village leaders.
And all I saw was this this unbelievable need people, had walked back from Mexico. The dad had a machete in his hand. The baby in the, the mother had a baby on her back and a couple in and holding onto her hands. They had a few clothes. They had a little bag of corn seed so that they could begin planting new crops of food and maybe one or two sheets of plastic. Flimsy, flimsy plastic and they would pitch that as kind of a roof to keep the rain off when they slept on the ground at night.
So, I could think was, well, let’s see now. They need food. They need water, that kind of thing. No, they told me over and over again, we want education for our children. And they were willing to sacrifice everything. Any offers of food of water, clean water the whole thing. No, they wanted education. Well, I mean, I was, I have to tell you I was I was kind of stunned but it was so important to them.
Today we are in the ceremonial area in the Sacha Wysa community center. Part of the Kitchwa people. It’s an open building with half-high bamboo walls, dirt floors, a palm roof and a fire pit. Even though it is late afternoon and the temperature is around 80 degrees, they lit a fire in the fire pit and are we gathered around wooden tables and chairs to talk. Everyone is wearing rubber boots, part of the Amazonian fashon.
We are speaking with the leaders of the community, mostly younger women and Jose Yumbo, the president of the community.
Mike McColm, the head of Yakum, a non-profit that works to protect indigenous forests, has been working with the community for years. We are here to see how Rotary District 5110 and the Cumbaya Rotaract club in Ecuador might be able to help. Mike speaks all three languages so he is doing double duty as a translator today (actually triple duty, he’s also the tour guide).
We asked Sonya Yumbo what the community needs the most?
She says they want to support their kids in their studies. A lot of them don’t have enough money to help their kids economically with setting and elementary school or high school. And so they’re looking for a long-term project that would support them financially so they can help their kids get through school. So, looking for a long-term sustainable project.
Want to know the rest of the story. Listen, into are two different podcast series from two different countries.
That was an excerpt from the upcoming series Service Above Self!
Want to know the rest of the story? Listen for more details in an upcoming episode about the plight of these Maya communities displaced by over three decades of brutal civil war that ended 25 years ago.
While the effects linger, the hope for a better life education brings to their children is a small but powerful impact of the education and literacy programs provided by Adopt-a-Village in Guatemala.
Find out more at AdoptAVillage.com
Hasta la proxima vez!
Find out more about the nutritional forest project in the Ecuadorian Amazon and how the Kitchwa people are taking control of their own destiny. How the youth in the villages, the city and two different countries are joining together to save the Amazon, preserve their future and feed the communities.
There’s so much more to these stories. Come along for the journey. We hope they move you and inspire YOU to action!
There are so much need out there. Have you ever wondered how you can help? Join us for the journey at www.voicesofrotary.org.