From Carrie Stengel, Executive Director of Sister Parish, Inc.
In an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19 while they prepare field hospitals, the Guatemalan government has closed schools and all large, non-essential businesses, banned most international travel and public transportation, and declared a curfew from 4pm-4am every day. The government has also recommended that people stay at home whenever possible. In a country like Guatemala, however, a large percentage of the population depends on their daily wage in order to eat, creating a heartbreaking tension between preventing the spread of the virus and feeding their family. This is, of course, also true for many people in the U.S. This virus will expose all preexisting inequalities and other deadly "pandemics", including racism, hunger, malnutrition, lack of access to water, and lack of access to health care.
Even though international travel is banned, the U.S. continues to deport people from detention centers to Guatemala (some of them have tested positive for COVID-19). The returning people have nowhere to go but back to their communities (if the communities have not already blocked their entrance), easily spreading the virus to communities with no health infrastructure. If interested, you can sign a petition by the Latin America Working Group to ask the U.S. government to halt deportations during the COVID-19 outbreak. There is also a national campaign to free immigrants from U.S. detention centers and limit immigration enforcement in light of the risks posed for immigrants and society at this time.
In Tierra Nueva 2, people are adjusting to life in quarantine and staying at home as much as possible, while continuing to work as much as they can, even without public transportation. People with ongoing health problems await new dates for their appointments in the public hospitals. The children are all at home. The clinic staff in Tierra Nueva 1 is doing their best to prepare with limited resources. After two weeks of the national quarantine, some people have already gone to the priest to ask for help because they have nothing to eat.
With a generous donation from St Joan of Arc, the Sister Parish Committee in TN2 is preparing food baskets for the elders and single mothers in their community, those they consider most vulnerable (see photos). They hope to also purchase three digital thermometers for the clinic, but there are none currently available to purchase. The emergency aid will not solve the problems created by generations of inequality, but it is a huge help in a time of great need. And perhaps, most importantly, people in TN2 know they are not alone. They are beloved.
The Sister Parish Committee in TN2 sent you all a huge thank you (see messages below). I also made sure I thanked each of them. In a time of crisis, when their families are trying to adjust and prepare, when their families are also worried about where their food and water will come from, they are taking time and putting themselves at risk to help the most needy in their community. This is seen and appreciated - a beautiful example of true solidarity.
Here are their messages for you:
Miriam (Miriam is working at the clinic in Tierra Nueva 1 and part of her job is to visit the two families that are in quarantine because they have been in contact with someone with COVID-19.) - Please pray for us. In Tn1 and TN2 there are families that are in mandatory quarantine because the Ministry of Health has determined that they had direct contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19. One of the women in one of the families didn't want to do the quarantine because she was worried about her job and when she called her boss to tell them that the Ministry of Health was obligating her to quarantine for two weeks, they fired her. There are 12 people in her house and they have a very difficult situation. Please pray for her that she finds hope in God and in prayer. Please pray for all of us. We don't know the way out at this point. Our only hope is God. Many of us are affected by the economic impact already, just at different levels. Faith in God is the only thing that can help us. We will pray for all of you at St Joan of Arc as well - you are in the same situation. Maybe we are experiencing it in different ways, but with the same feelings. We are all feeling shut up inside. We are all worried about what will happen. Thank you for thinking of us. It is so good that we are united in prayer. We feel stronger and closer to you. We know we are not alone. I have my prayer partner's picture in front of me every day when I pray and I feel like she is here, close to me. The prayer partners are even more important now for both of us - it can give us strength here and it can give you all strength there.
Albertina - On behalf of myself and the Sister Parish Committee in TN2, I would like to thank you all for your help. You are so far away and have your own needs and yet, you think of us and you did your part (su granito de arena) to help the most needy in our community. God bless you and keep you always.
Pedro - We are really grateful for the help you sent. Our elders in the community, some of them no longer have anything to eat. We are gathering the supplies little by little, because they will not sell it to us all at once. But hopefully by tomorrow (Tuesday) or the day after (Wednesday), we will be able to go to the houses to leave the basic food baskets. We hope you are all well. You are in our prayers always. This strengthens us.
Eluvia - Thank you to everyone at St Joan of Arc for this huge help for our community. God has made it possible for us to do this and help the most needy in our community. Thanks to God we are healthy and able to work. The Lord is the only one who can protect us. Greetings and love to all.
Marleny - Thanks to God, we are united here. We really want to thank you all at St Joan of Arc with our whole hearts. Greetings to everyone at St Joan of Arc!
Prayer Request from Johana (Paty's daughter) - Please pray for my grandmother in San Marcos - she fell and broke her arm and needs surgery. Please pray for my mother, Paty, as well, because it is very hard for her that she cannot travel to be with her mother right now.
P.S. Here is San Marcos Evangelista YouTube channel where they are posting their online services. They are also looking for more subscribers so that they will be able to livestream, in case anyone up there wants to check it out and/or subscribe.