Trip report, December 2010
MIA is trying to create a collective conciousness and really make things happen. We are getting no help writing all good news. When other groups send emails asking for money, they also send lots of bad news and people respond to that. I want to send good news in hopes that this will help respond the same way.
Tough sell for people in these times, which is even more of a reason that we need your help. I kid you not MIA is really starting to shake things up in Guatemala.
Five months in Guate and I’ve been working almost the entire five months Monday through Sunday. We have had to make ourselves available at everyone’s schedule to make a presence every where with anyone who called for our workshops.
I want to start with good news and end with what you all know I am leading you toward: a request for your donation. There is no “I have too little to give, it wont make any difference.” Believe me, the way MIA works on a shoe string budget, we go miles with very little money.
I am very proud to say that MIA was able to sign an agreement with the university of San Carlos — almost, anyway — more on this later. San Carlos is the only free (of charge) university, which is still free for now, but threatened everyday to be privatized, and you can guess what that would do to the “free” part. We have been delivering workshops at San Carlos for some time now, but having an agreement will make it solid for the future, and give us some confidence that things will keep happening even when people change jobs. As it has been going, if someone we work with leaves, we have to start all over again with the new people. This agreement should improve that situation.
The agreement is intense. In short we will start delivering programs, as we have been but more. We start at the main campus and extend to — get this! — all EIGHTEEN campuses. The challenge for us is to expand beyond the small pilot program in Guatemala city campus. To expand to the 18 campuses, of course, we will need funding.
Well not entirely for free because we will be delivering programs perhaps two per week plus any extra curricula we may need to support the topic.
There is one very exciting part of this agreement which is way different from the agreement we signed last year with the women’s department and earlier this year with the health department. The new thing is that the Chancellor of the university signed to allow professors to send us students for credit through our workshops. That’s right, students will get credit for participating in a series of ten White Ribbon Campaign (aka Hombres Contra Femenicidio). We will type up a sylubus to add readings to each workshop. In short, MIA will be teaching lecture style not just facilitating.
We were able to work with some healthy young men and tape 3 podcasts in spanish that are available on our web page for anyone who wants to learn via the ‘net. Also, we have officially started the paperwork for MIA to become legal for potential money in Guatemala. The key word there of course is “potential”. If fund raising in the US is hard, fund raising in Guatemala could be lots harder! Norma Cruz (Sobrevivientes) has had some luck with foreign donations to her organization.
MIA will officially have its first satellite to be able to apply for money from the international community. As you all know we are a 501c3 in the U.S. We can no longer continue working from good samaritans since we are all hurting for money. MIA did some knocking on doors to introduce our campaign in the private businesses. Some of these private businesses seemed interested to help, but the fact that MIA lacks legal status yet in Guate made it very easy for them to use that as an excuse to not be able to help.
We were able to meet with the U.K. ambassador but she was very straight forward telling us that they too don’t have money, and if anything they are withdrawing donations to their projects in Guate. She did offer to help us with USAC by providing moral support and that helped pressure USAC to speed up the signing.
The five month in Guate seemed long and hard but we know this is the breakthrough for a smooth ride once we get funding.
We trained 10 facilitators/volunteers 3 women and 7 men who were very busy with us leading workshops in four different schools, the University and at the national Police Academy. They all were students and of
course activists, and they disappeared overnight when the university went on general strike. The university was taken by the students defending their future Alma Mater. We are hoping situations like this will improve when we have a full-time paid staff. But of course that comes down to money.
The university was shut down for a month and a half and this created much stress for MIA to not have facilitators to continue our sites.
An interesting situation developed at the police academy. The ombudsman’s office received complaints about sexual harassment in the academy. We don’t have details about the complaints, but the ombudsman’s office figures that we inspired the women to make the complaints. Our goal of course is to inspire the men to act in a way that nobody has any complaint against them, but the fact that the women felt strong enough to complain has to be a sign of progress.
I did what I could but the ongoing chaos in the country can get in the way. When they returned i had had to shorten our programs because there was no way to know how long the strike was going to take. The only group that we were able to continue was the one in USAC but unfortunatly from 30 students only 3 stayed on board, as we worked to find off-campus locations for the workhshops. Many of the students enrolled had to cram to make up for the time while the university was closed.
I am pleased to say that we finally got into the school system for MIA’s goal is to get into the school curriculum. At first they seemed very interested and then acted very uninterested. They called us, interested again, and we ran faster than a speeding bullet to come in to the schools. Once we started the follow up to our conversations they said thank you, but no thank you. The positive thing i can say about this is that at least now we are in their radar, yayyyy.
MIA networked nonstop and has made stong ties with different organizations for future projects. People are starting to understand that MIA is not funded by uncle sam and or by international community but from people like you who are getting this trip report who has in one or another way commited to not forget our Guatelinda.
I lived in a small room in my friends house my first trip February to May and three more months this second trip. It was time for me to rent us an apartment. We decided to stay in zona 1 to be able to walk to nonprofits in that area, and also z 1 is central to get to different places quick on a taxi.
I’m going back to Guate on January 31st. Am not sure when I’ll be back to the US. It is imperative for me to make a presence to get this program going. We are very lucky that we have a volunteer from India (and the US) who will be volunteering for 6 months and will help me unfold the USAC monster project.
We had a last-minute plan to sign the agreement with USAC on the last day I was there, which was International No Violence Against Women Dan (and also Thanksgiving here in the US). Only weeks after the student strike ended at USAC, the administrative workers’ union went on strike and took over the administration offices. With all the chaos, of course we were not able to go in and sign as planned. I got a call late in the day, when I was on the way to the airport, but knowing how things go there, I didn’t want to miss my flight. I am told that the principal signed already, and I will sign it with the UK ambassador when I return.
This year we were not able to lead any delegations. As you know all of you delegates with your trips allows us to make a little money for MIA’s programs. This year was painful because, not only did we not gather any money from delegations, but also it was the year that I had to spend the most time in Guate.
MIA had it first male voluneer this year. His name is Daniel, and he’s been a HUGE help for MIA since we started. Daniel flew from New York and spent all his vacation time with MIA empowering our young women and men letting them know they are not alone. He shared with them his story as an immigrant before he got his legal papers here and what he will be doing now that he is legal helping MIA help them. Daniel made some strong ties with them and will continue the nurturing from a distance.
Daniel also works with us doing translations; he translated the White Ribbon Campaign materials into Spanish for use in our workshops. In addition he is our webmaster and, really, does anything and everything for MIA. We would be sunk without Daniel’s great behind the scenes work.
MIA is walking the talk., I have no words to express how much we need your help!! In the middle of the chaos in the country we were still able to deliver workshops and get big wigs to want to sign on our mission. I can type for ever how many deaths per day and describe the problem but we all know the evil impunity is the monster. MIA is about solutions and our program is the start of a solution. Please we ask you to help us even if it is only $50.00 or even $5.00, you can count on us to put it in good use.
You can mail us a check, or you can send money on paypal to MIA’s account. Our email ID on paypal is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Money you send us will go straight to MIA, and is tax-deductible.
1256 Conway Ave
Costa Mesa, CA 92626