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Summer Healthcare Solidarity Delegations

May 31 to June 6, 2020

June 7 to June 12, 2020

We are looking for nurses, nurse practitioners, doctors, students and other healthcare workers and non-healthcare workers to participate in either or both of the Summer 2020 Healthcare Solidarity Delegations in Guatemala from May 31 to June 6 and from June 7 to June 12.  Healthcare professionals are needed but there are also many roles for people who do not have healthcare expertise.

Our goal is to conduct health assessments and provide medication when appropriate for over 1,000 individuals in indigenous communities in rural Guatemala.  Many of these communities are being displaced in order to support the extraction of natural resources from indigenous land.  This has provoked significant environmental degradation and health crises. 

In our June 2019 delegation, we performed health assessments on approximately 400 people, focusing on children under 12 years old.  Over 98% of children showed signs of disease processes that were untreated.  Most children showed evidence of multiple illnesses.  Pneumonia, chronic malnutrition and parasitic infestation were some of the most common.  Fewer than 1 out of every 4 children had access to school.

Most of our time will be filled by providing direct care.  We will also specifically address land rights, indigenous rights and other structural issues causing massive health disparities in Guatemala. The majority of the delegation will take place in indigenous communities being targeted for theft of water and other natural resources.  We will consider what actions we can take after the delegation to end this repression, but understand that many participants may not be able to make significant time commitments after the trip.

Nurses are needed for health assessments, medication administration and patient education. Doctors and nurse practitioners are needed for assessments, diagnoses and treatment decisions. Pharmacists are needed for medication distribution and patient education. Medical and nursing students are needed to support assessments and documentation of health data and interventions.

People without healthcare expertise are needed to support any of the following: meetings with community leaders, documentation of human rights violations, development of solidarity action plans, solar power setup and repairs, community water filtration setup and support, translation, leading workshops (with kids and/or adults- promoting physical activity, confidence building, teamwork skills and/or developing other skills), mobile clinic setup and related work in support of our partners. Musicians and entertainers are very welcome!

 March, 2011 “eviction” of indigenous communities.  Government attacks on indigenous communities to steal indigenous territory and natural resources are common, but rarely caught on camera

The purpose of the delegation is to continue our work in solidarity with indigenous and peasant communities who are organizing to rescue and recuperate Mother Earth and their ancestral land rights in Guatemala. As a result of repression and land theft these communities are facing extreme hunger and lack access to clean water, leading to widespread chronic malnutrition and other negative health consequences. Mental health consequences of genocide, forced displacement, imprisonment of community leaders, arson attacks and other forms of repression have also been significant.

The majority of the delegation will take place in rural indigenous communities. Health care delivery will prioritize children under 12 and pregnant women, however we hope to have enough participants to also provide care for adolescents and adults. The official dates of the delegations are May 31-June 6 and June 7-June 12, 2020. However those interested in participating in an entire delegation should arrive in Guatemala City one day prior to the start date and not leave Guatemala City until one day after the end of the delegation (Because we will leave Guatemala City the morning of the first day and will not return until the afternoon of the last day). We greatly prefer that participants join the entire duration of the delegation. We will consider making special arrangements for those who are unable to do so, but given the lack of transportation in the areas we will be visiting this may be difficult.

The two delegations will be very similar, but there are are some significant differences between them:

May 31-June 6: Nine day total commitment (seven day delegation plus one day travel to arrive in Guatemala City before the delegation and one day travel to leave Guatemala City after the delegation). Participants may need to travel multiple hours standing up in the back of a pickup truck.  Participants may need to walk several hours up hill on muddy ground. Participants will spend many nights in communities sleeping on hard surfaces in shared spaces. We highly recommend you bring a mat to sleep on.

June 7-June 12: Eight day total commitment (six day delegation plus one day travel to arrive in Guatemala City before the delegation and one day travel to leave Guatemala City after the delegation). Participants will not need to walk far as all communities are located near roads. Most nights will be spent in hotels and participants will have their own bed every night.

Distribution of water filters

Goals of this delegation include conducting health assessments and providing medication when appropriate for over 1,000 individuals; supporting solar power in rural health clinics and communities; and supporting the delivery of water filters.  During the delegation we will also form an action plan with concrete steps to continue to work in solidarity with our partners after the delegation ends.  We understand that participants have their own previous commitments, bills, jobs, families, etc.  Some participants may do as little as write a letter after the delegation while others may spend months or years in Guatemala.  Actions may include collecting medical donations for our partners; publishing articles and videos; organizing informational presentations in Guatemala, the US and other countries; participating in fundraising efforts in support of the communities we visit; participating in civil disobedience; lobbying US Congress against military support to Guatemala; collecting petitions; pressuring multinational banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank to stop funding theft of indigenous lands; assisting with translation; assisting with research; and other solidarity actions.

Cost of participation:  $1,200 to participate in either one of the delegations or $1,800 to participate in both.  A limited number of partial scholarships (anyone can apply for a scholarship, you do not need to be a student) are available. Contact us at info@guatemalasolidarityproject.org for more information on scholarships. The cost includes all food, in-country transportation and lodging (all of which will be very basic!) from our starting point near Guatemala City.  Airfare is not included in this price – you must arrange and pay for transportation to and from Guatemala on your own.  Translation between English, Spanish and several Mayan languages will be provided.  If there are extra funds left over from the delegation they will be used to support the health priorities of our partners. We are a volunteer-run organization and no individual will make money from this delegation.

Food:  Expect to eat a lot of tortillas and beans!  We will share meals with our partners whenever possible.  There will also be many opportunities to eat fruit and other vegetables.  Meat will occasionally be offered, and we will have options for vegetarians.

Lodging:  Lodging accommodations will include shared rooms in hotels as well as hostels run by our partners.  Most nights we will likely be sleeping on hard surfaces in partner communities where there are no beds available.  We suggest you bring a sleeping bag, mat and a mosquito net. We can provide mosquito nets for a very reasonable fee.  Participants in the June 7 – June 12 delegation do not need to bring a sleeping bag, mat or mosquito net.

For more information or to obtain an application please contact info@guatemalasolidarityproject.org and in one paragraph let us know who you are and why you are interested. Include any questions or concerns you may have.

The GSP has been organizing volunteer opportunities and solidarity delegations for over 15 years.  An incomplete list of recent examples includes:

Water for Life, not for Profit:

Health Care Solidarity Delegation

June 23 – July 2, 2019

In June/July 2019, the Guatemala Solidarity Project organized our first solidarity delegation focused primarily on health care. We performed health assessments on nearly 400 children aged 12 and under, and found symptoms of untreated illness in over 97% of them. We will be publishing details of the health assessment results early in 2020.

An important goal of the delegation was setting up basic water filtration systems in the communities we visited.  Lack of access to clean water is a major source of illness in these communities.  We collaborated with out partners to set up filtration systems in seven communities.

 

Unfiltered water tested positive for E. coli bacteria in every community we visited, but the filtered water was negative.

 

May 27 – June 5, 2018:  Defending Mother Earth and Indigenous Rights in Guatemala

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The GSP is looking for activists, organizers, teachers, students, journalists, musicians, farmers and other people of conscience to join us as we build solidarity with indigenous and peasant communities organizing to rescue and recuperate Mother Earth and their ancestral land rights in Guatemala.  Most of the delegation will be spent in indigenous communities targeted by government and private businesses in attempts to steal land and natural resources.  We expect to participate in long hikes, get uncomfortably sweaty and dirty, get bug bites and sleep on hard surfaces.  We expect to see incredible natural beauty and swim and fall in love with a river or two.  We expect to feel moments of great joy and of intense sorrow.

We will meet directly with our partners in these communities and build personal and organizational relationships in solidarity with their struggle.  We will form an action plan with concrete goals that may include publishing articles and videos; organizing informational presentations in Guatemala, the US and other countries; participating in fundraising efforts in support of the communities we visit; participating in civil disobedience; lobbying US Congress against military “aid” to Guatemala; collecting petitions; pressuring multinational banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank to stop funding theft of indigenous lands; assisting with translation; assisting with research; and other solidarity actions.

We understand that participants have their own previous commitments, bills, jobs, families, etc. Some participants may do as little as write a few letters after the delegation while others may spend months or years in Guatemala. All participants will need to be with us for the entire delegation.  Cost of participation is on a sliding scale based on income and includes all food, transportation and housing (all of which will be very basic!) from our starting point near Guatemala City.  For more information please contact info@guatemalasolidarityproject.org and briefly let us know who you are and why you are interested.

Many of the communities we will visit were violently attacked by hundreds of police and soldiers in March, 2011.  The government stated that the attack was a “nonviolent eviction” and that the military was not involved.

As a result, the vast majority of children from these communities are suffering from chronic malnutrition. Several people have died of illnesses related to starvation. After the Inter American Court of Human Rights ruled in favor of the communities, the government promised to give them land. Over six years later thousands of people remain without land or even clean drinking water.

The short term effects of malnutrition are severe and can include death.  Several people have died of starvation and related illnesses since the communities were evicted in 2011.  Children who survive chronic malnutrition suffer from extreme long term consequences.  Weakened immune systems, stunted growth, weak bones, decreased IQ, learning disabilities, diabetes, heart disease, kidney damage, and decreased physical capacity for work as an adult are just some of the life-long effects of chronic malnutrition even for people who are eventually able to consistently access sufficient nutrients after surviving chronic malnourishment.

Water-borne illnesses are causing significant injury to members of these communities.  Often the small amount of nutrients parents are able to give their children are negated by water-borne illnesses.  Children and the elderly are also most vulnerable to mosquito-borne illnesses such as malaria.  Families are unable to purchase water filters and mosquito nets to protect their children and elderly.  The government and wealthy “land owners” continue to threaten and exploit communities, making it impossible for them to access such basic goods.

One goal of the trip will be to help facilitate the delivery of high quality water filters to communities along with workshops on their use and maintenance.  We will also seek to further develop personal and institutional relationships as well as coordinate continued actions in solidarity with the communities and their struggle for territorial and cultural rights.  For more information please contact info@guatemalasolidarityproject.org and briefly let us know who you are and why you are interested.

 

December 13-20, 2017: Solidarity with Displaced and Threatened Indigenous Communities

A wave of violent attacks against indigenous communities beginning in late October included the burningdown of entire villages and caused death, widespread illness and extreme hunger.  Despite these attacks, targeted communities have remained united.  The attacks have received very little internationalcoverage, and occurred in the context of systematic land grabs of indigenous territory and continued US military “support” for the Guatemalan regime.  From December 12th to 19th, 2017, the GSP coordinated an intense and inspiring delegation that visited 10 sites of struggle against the destruction of Mother Earth led by brave indigenous farmers.  We also met with representatives from 9 other communities in resistance in Jalapa, Alta Verapaz and Baja Verapaz.  Read the delegation report here

August 12-16, 2017: Anniversary of murder of children and continuation of resistance to corporate dam mega projects in Coban

On August 23, 2013, 13 year-old Ageo Isaac Maas Guitz and 11-year-old David Estuardo Pacay Maas were murdered by an employee of Hidro Santa Rita SA.  Not coincidentally, the murders occurred as community leaders were meeting with Dinah Shelton, Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples for the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

The murders were a part of systematic repression that continues today and has included the establishment of a military base on community property, arrests of community leaders on fraudulent charges, arson of homes, numerous armed attacks against community leaders and other forms of terrorism.  The attacks are meant to intimidate area communities from participating in nonviolent organizing in defense of their territorial rights.  The ultimate goal is to build a series of hydroelectric dams that would flood indigenous communities, destroy local ecosystems and create enormous profit for an already wealthy elite.

We have been invited by community leaders to join them in commemorating the lives of the children and celebrating the continuation of resistance to the looting of indigenous land.  For more information please contact info@guatemalasolidarityproject.org

 

Indigenous Rights Versus Terrorism and Environmental Destruction, May 26 – June 4, 2017:  Participants will spend most of their time in rural indigenous communities. We will visit political prisoners, community leaders who have been threatened with arrest, survivors of recent government violence and others who are organizing for justice. We will travel to and stay in communities that have been threatened with or have already suffered violent evictions. We will build personal and organizational relationships with those we meet. Transportation, basic housing, three meals a day and translation to/from English will be provided.

 

The central goal of the delegation is to provide participants with the tools and motivation to promote indigenous rights in Guatemala. Participants will commit to work on areas of interest to them such as publishing articles and videos; organizing informational presentations in Guatemala, the US and other countries; participating in fundraising efforts in support of the communities we visit; participating in civil disobedience; lobbying US Congress against military “aid” to Guatemala; collecting petitions; pressuring multinational banks such as the Inter-American Development Bank to stop funding theft of indigenous lands; assisting with translation; assisting with research; and other solidarity actions.

We understand that participants have their own previous commitments, bills, jobs, families, etc. Some participants may do as little as write a few letters after the delegation while others may spend months or years in Guatemala. All participants will need to be with us for the entire delegation.

Intensive Solidarity Delegation, June 25 – July 1, 2017:  While this delegation will be similar in many ways, it is only open to people who fit any one or more of the following criteria: People with significant experience doing latin america solidarity work, people who have previously participated in GSP activities, people who are interested in volunteering in Guatemala with the GSP and our partners after the delegation ends, and people who are able to commit before the delegation to do specific solidarity work (such as publishing articles, raising funds to support our partners, and organizing nonviolent actions calling for justice in Guatemala).  English/Spanish translation may be somewhat limited on this delegation.  Our delegations always look to build individual and institutional solidarity, and together we create action plans that will help guide us to continued collaboration once the delegation is over.  However this delegation will be even more focused on tasks and less focused on activities geared toward introducing and informing delegation participants.  We expect to participate in long hikes, get uncomfortably sweaty and dirty, get bug bites and sleep on hard surfaces.  We expect to see incredible natural beauty and swim and fall in love with a river or two.  We expect to feel moments of great joy and of intense sorrow.

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GSP Solidarity Delegation January 2017 Report Back:  From January 3rd to January 11th, 2017, a group of students, organizers, farmers, and human rights activists from the United States traveled throughout rural Guatemala as part of a delegation organized by the Guatemala Solidarity Project. We traveled under the principle that solidarity is best created by building long term relationships and listening to the communities most affected by state violence and global capitalism. Three themes emerged from the stories we heard: the role of international and state violence, environmental destruction, and gender-based violence.  Read complete report

GSP Solidarity Delegation June 2016 Report Back:  This delegation was born out of the belief that the United States government plays an active and ongoing role in the exploitation, repression and violence directly targeted against peasants in resistance to capitalist “development”.  We did not have a clear idea of what we were going to see, but our desire was to personally witness the devastating effects of U.S. foreign policy.  During the months of April and May, Guatemala Solidarity Project (GSP) delegates from the United States took part in several actions in support of indigenous land and water rights. These actions included visiting communities in resistance in different regions of Guatemala as well as  participating with thousands of Guatemalan  farmers and activists in La Marcha Por El Agua (The March for Water).  Read complete report

 

GSP Solidarity Delegation June 2015 Report Back:  From May 25 to June 4, 2015, a group of human rights activists from the United States, England and Colombia participated in a solidarity delegation organized by the Guatemala Solidarity Project. We were horrified to see that the government and capital interests are systematically using violence and judicial persecution to steal land from indigenous communities. Their goal is to exploit the natural resources and cheap labor of Guatemala, destroying rivers and local ecosystems in the process and leaving indigenous peasants with hunger and poverty. Read complete report

 

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