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 a family. This virus will expose all preexisting inequalities and other deadly “pandemics”, including racism, hunger, homelessness, malnutrition, lack of access to water, and lack of access to health care. This is, of course, also true in the U.S.
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 their partner church 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. 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 a huge thank you to their brothers and sisters at St Joan of Arc. I also made sure I thanked each of the TN2 committee members. 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.