Monday, August 4, 2014

Cents and Sensibility: Scholarships and Immigration Discussions in San Juan, Chirijquiac, and Llanos del Pinal

In the past two weeks the social workers and projects coordinator at Pop Wuj travelled to two surrounding communities for scholarship meetings. In these towns, San Juan and Chirijquiac, Carmen, Chloe, and Sharon presented information on the dangers and negative consequences for Guatemalans, specifically children, traveling to the United States "sin papeles" a.k.a. undocumented.

A family from the scholarship meeting in Chirikquiac
In the presentation we talked with the scholarship recipients' mothers about the importance of staying in Guatemala and keeping their children within the communities. We emphasized the importance of bettering their lives at home instead of chasing the "Sueño Americano" that for these migrant children is in reality una gran pesadilla (nightmare).

With the groups of scholarship recipient mothers we gave a presentation followed by a group discussion about the topic and personal experiences related to the subject.  Another meeting was held in Llanos del Pinal with the mothers of the children in the Family Support Center.

The mothers were divided into groups with the workers at the FSC.

Erick Santos, a teacher at the FSC, reads his groups response to "What do you most like about living here?"

Another staff member at the FSC, Carmelina, reads her group's responses to the question,
 "Why do people go to the United States?"

Separately, this activity was repeated with the children and youth in the "Guardería" or the Family Support Center in Llanos del Pinal. The altered version of the activity included drawing responses to the two primary questions.

The activity was done with the older children "grandes" (seen here) and also with the "medianos."
The dangers these children face include violence, sexual assaults, extortion, discrimination, illness, and abandonment, etc. If they make it to the United States alive they face likely deportation.

Carmencita and Sharon explain the dangers of going north "mojado" a.k.a. undocumented.

The increase in the number of children traveling to the United States in 2014 is unprecedented. They make the journey alone or accompanied by "coyotes" (human traffickers) who usually abandon them along the way. Our activity was meant to discourage the children from risking their lives in attempts to head north.

The kids watch a music video of the song "Tres Veces Mojado," by Los Tigres del Norte, to finish off the activity.

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