It is painful to see my country bleed.
The bodies of two little girls, ages 6 and 12, were found on Jan. 16 dumped on a street in Guatemala City. Police said that both girls had been asphyxiated.
As I watched the evening news, I could not help but think of what these helpless children went through and the pain that their family was suffering. I was moved; our whole country was moved. These could have been our own children.
Violence has affected my life and the lives of those in my country in many ways. It has affected the way we live, play and go about our daily lives.
I remember as a child playing in my neighborhood streets for as long as I wanted, even after street lights came on. My children cannot enjoy that kind of freedom.
I live in a country full of poverty, illiteracy, hunger and unemployment. These economic, social and cultural factors have a direct impact on our crime rates.
According to government’s annual report, in 2012 there were 34.2 homicides per 100,000 people.
It is not fair that our children have to live in this kind of world. We cannot be indifferent to the bleeding of our nation, and we must care for one another and make a difference.
In this context, I see CFCA as a light of hope for the construction of a community of compassion in Guatemala.
At CFCA we encourage solidarity through mother’s groups and activities with sponsored friends and their families that benefit their community.
We have activities such as recycling, reforestation, picking up trash and solidarity walks. We have programs that provide children and youth with the opportunity to interact with each other and “have fun” in a healthy, nonviolent environment.
Staffers cultivate a nonviolent attitude with sponsored friends and their families through a “teach by example” philosophy. Valuing the dignity of each individual, treating everyone with respect, and working with honesty and responsibility are key elements of this approach.
CFCA constantly talks with kids about violence and sets an example of mutual respect. I believe CFCA is providing an opportunity to help change the situation.
Our challenge, if we are to live in a more peaceful world, is to continue building and strengthening communities of compassion. I am confident that the children and youth at CFCA are finding the support, love and guidance we all need to stop the bleeding of our country.
I dream of peace in Guatemala, where we all treat each other as brothers and sisters, and where our children can grow and live like our national ceiba tree, “fruitful and free.”