The women of Ixmucane
Andrea Alvarado Rafael is a Jakalteka indigenous woman from Huehuetenago, Ixcan. She survived a massacre of 300 people when she was eight years old. Women were raped, leaders assassinated and her father and sister were burned alive. She is one of the many who went into exile and then was relocated from the refugee camp to Hua Cut, two hours from St. Helena. Not only was Andrea a founder and still an active member of Ixmucane, but she takes care of her six children – five boys and one girl. “We are not here to make profit,” she says. “There is a second generation of women becoming members of the organization; our daughters are joining and they are now looking to recover indigenous people’s culture.”
Teresa Coc, Cajbon from La Esmeralda couldn’t read and write in Spanish as her mother tongue is Q’eqchi. She used to be ashamed of speaking out in public, but not any more, she says. Ixmucane helped her learn to read and write. She also notes that there is evidence of decreased violence against women, as well as fewer early age pregnancies. Ixmucane informs women how to protect themselves and about the law. Mothers have educated their daughters and now more young girls reach 19 or 20 without getting pregnant.
Maria Ortiz, a single mother of three boys and a girl, has income to pay for better food and other expenses. She not only weaves hammocks, but she received training through Ixmucane to operate the community water pump and became Hua Cut’s municipal employee.