Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Faces of Hunger in Guatemala: Not Who You Think

Much has been written in the last few weeks on the causes behind the surge in undocumented children finding their way into the United States. Children from Central America, who are fleeing, some with parents and some without, from hunger, poverty and violence. 
These children on the front pages of the press are the faces that represent these problems in Guatemala, a country endemic for all of those problems and more. The wide-eyed infants and fresh faced toddlers who stare at us from the pages of national newspapers or websites captivate us with their promise of blooming if they are planted on American soil. Their plight tears at the very fabric of our country, dividing our opinions as we each stand on our respective sides of the issue. 

The faces of the elderly rarely make the press, either here or in Guatemala.They are the forgotten few who are behind closed doors, in their villages, waiting and wanting. Guatemalan elderly are at risk for malnutrition for all of the same reasons that the very aged are world-wide. Their legs no longer make their way to the market, and arms are not strong enough to chop firewood for cooking fires. Their minds and vision are cloudy, and contributing to the workload of the community; highly valued in their society, is no longer an option. The elderly in Guatemala who have no family to care for them are the most fragile, but least vocal of an already marginalized indigenous society.  
Meanwhile, our Finding Freedom families are looking better nourished. Their faces are filling out, the children who benefit from our food donations are growing taller and their eyes have a brightness that was absent before we took them into our program. The lines of worry on the faces of our abandoned mothers are softening. 
It is time for our mothers to pay it forward.