Who We Are
Vía 4, 01-00, Zona 4
Edificio Campus Tecnológico
Torre 2, Oficina 1102
Guatemala, Guatemala 01004
P.O. BOX 8643
Boise, ID 83707
September of 2010 continued the extreme trend of this growing season. A solid week of rain again changed the shape of Guatemala. The entire country shifted daily tasks in order to compensate for mudslides that buried roads, overflowing rivers, bridges that washed away, and the pounding rain that pummeled crops. At Semilla Nueva we were forced to adjust to days of delays, water shin-deep, and to the needs of farmers who’s livelihood was being threatened by the torrent. In countries like Guatemala, weather of such extremes opens your eyes to the true impacts of climate change, and the uncontrollable vulnerability cast upon farmers by the elements.
Visiting one of our promotores, Isaias, in La Maquina, was a sobering experience. A text message came to me the night before: “Perdimos todo. ¿Cuando vienes?” (“We lost everything. When are you coming?”). The haunting thought of losing “everything” settled into me as I pondered what “everything” meant. Was it all his corn already doubled over awaiting harvest? Was it the mazanas of sesame that had already been planted for a second time? Was it the manzana and a half of papaya that promised to be the biggest income for his family this year? Was it all of it?
Upon my arrival the following day, I learned that they had lost ALL their sesame, not only the recently planted seeds that could not sprout in such moist conditions, but also 5 manzanas of sesame that was already 45 days old and chest high. The same 5 manzanas of ready-to-harvest corn was now “nacido” (growing sprouts) and un-marketable. Now the families’ only choice is to salvage what they can and use it for their own tortillas or tamales. Unfortunately, the papaya is not doing that much better, due to the heavy stress from the rain. Now, two weeks later, equally stressed by the lack of rain and strong heat, Isaias is doing what he can to save his papaya crop.
Conversing with Isaias to better understand what these losses mean makes my heart drop; but at the same time, I am humbled and filled with respect and compassion. “Estamos triste por las perdidas, pero estamos sanos aqui, creciendo con la familia, y la comida. Vamos a trabajar y buscar un otro cultivo para sequir adelante.” (“We are sad for the losses, but we are healthy here, growing with family and food. We will continue to work and look for another crop that will help us move forward.”)
It is impossible to deny the strength of a culture when –while having just lost 50% or more of their investments– they remain able to bring you back to what matters most in life: Health, family, food, and the ability to continue on with positivism despite the numerous difficulties of this season.
My heart goes out to all of those who have been challenged by the unstable and unpredictable impacts this season’s extremes.
Field Director, Semilla Nueva