I am thankful for the helped we received, but being uprooted marks you for life.
My mom was a union leader and an activist for indigenous rights in Guatemala. Her fight against injustice and corruption resulted in her kidnapping. She was tortured and left abandoned by the morgue alive. I was 15 years old at the time, looking after my siblings (13 & 10 year old), telling them that mom would be okay was very difficult because I did not know if she would make it. The threats against my mom continued, and her determination to continue the fight and to protect us pushed her to ask international bodies for help.
The ILO and the UNHCR helped us leave the country within a few weeks of the incident. We left Guatemala and everything but a couple of personal items that had meaning to us. Before leaving, my mom took us to the poorest villages in the country to give the rest of our belongings away. I didn’t know where we would go until we were on the plane. Canada became our new home and it came with the challenges of survival in a new country. Today, 20 years later I still yearn for the place that saw me be born and taught me the importance of being socially aware and how fighting for justice is risky but yet necessary wherever you are. I am thankful for the helped we received, but being uprooted marks you for life. My challenge is to find a way to support the many Guatemalans that live in poverty and constantly fight for their right to live peacefully in their land.
by Maria Jose, Canada
posted: Friday, 20th June, 2014