During my time in Lancaster I became friends with a number of great people working with Mennonite Central Committee (MCC), an organization focused on “relief, development and peace in the name of Christ.” I’ve been so impressed with so much of the work they do around the world, and I’d encourage you to check them out.
While doing research in grad school I traveled back to Sipacapa, the town in the highlands of western Guatemala where our family had lived when I was a kid, to research the impact of a Canadian gold mining company and to interview community residents who were opposed to the mine. That research eventually turned into a PRISM cover story.
I couldn’t have pulled it off without the help of fellow Eastern University alumnus Nate Howard, who has been working in that part of Guatemala with MCC for several years.
All that to say that when the latest issue of MCC’s excellent magazine A Common Place arrived in the mail last week, I was thrilled to see them profiling the great work being done in western Guatemala with inspiring stories and, as always, fantastic photos from the very talented Melissa Engle. In case it takes a little while for your subscription to kick in (did I mention it’s available free?), the content is available online as well. Here are some highlights:
- New opportunities without leaving home - as an alternative to the virtual necessity of migration to find work, MCC is helping those who stay find the opportunity to provide for their families through fish farms and other initiatives.
- First person: Juan Pablo Morales - I had lunch with Juan Pablo, a dedicated community leader who happens to be remarkably nice and smart. “With so many resources in Guatemala, it’s a shame there are so many people living in poverty,” he says.
- The popular banquet – listen to Juan Pablo sing a popular song from that region of Guatemala called “El Banquete Popular” or “The Popular Banquet” (lyrics available in both languages).
- Learning about mining justice – a profile of a student who spent time in the Guatemalan highlands and through that experience learned about the gold mine, owned and operated by a Canadian company. “I’m from Canada,” she says. “Why didn’t I know this was happening? Why didn’t I hear about this before?”
- A slideshow with audio commentary from Nate Howard is also coming soon, according to the site. [Update: here's the link to that slideshow]
I’d encourage you to check out the entire issue, to subscribe to the magazine while you’re at it, and consider supporting this great work in what is, all biases aside, a very special corner of the world.
[Photo credit: due to resolution issues online, this is an Instagram I took of one of the photos printed in the magazine by Melissa Engle/MCC]