Mike Baird's visit to Guatemala 2001

I visited Guatemala for my third time during July 25-30, 2001.  My main purpose was to visit two projects in Quetzaltenango that I collaborate with (La Pedrera, and Pasac Segundo [see also Friends of Pasac Segundo]) and to see my Ahijada Ana Fabiola Sutuj Aguilar.  I also briefly visited Padre Gregory Schaffer's mission in San Luis Toliman on the shores of Lago Atitlan to extend my greetings. 

Following is a brief "photo essay" documenting this trip.  Some photos are self-describing only to the extent that file names may be somewhat descriptive. Click a thumbnail below to view a larger photo.

The La Pedrera's community in Quetzaltenango proudly dedicated a new building la-pedrera-building-july01.jpg (53640 bytes),on July 26, 2001, to house various activities of the La Pedrera project.  It is owned by Julio Batres julio-batres.jpg (50174 bytes) of  Casa Xelaj˙.  The ribbon cutting (L-R Magdalena Salazar, Julio Batres, Mike Baird) ribbon-cutting-magdalena-julio-mike.jpg (57263 bytes) magdalena-julio-mike.jpg (48029 bytes), and speeches mike-speaking-at-la-pedrera.jpg (55921 bytes) mike-speaking-at-la-pedrera2.jpg (45836 bytes) were attended by approximately 100 wonderful people volunteer-at-la-pedrera.jpg (61754 bytes), including Democratic State House Representative Gloria Leyba of Colorado rep-gloria-leyba-sr-Impara-pres-xelabaj.jpg (73137 bytes), and dedicated local volunteers (L-R Elizabeth Jenner and Stephanie Lindquist) elizabeth-and-stephanie-at-la-pedrera-dedication.jpg (62675 bytes).  Presenting one of several speeches was my Ahijada Ana Fabiola Sutuj Aguilar, shown here with her mother Gumercinda Aguilar ana-and-mom.jpg (73557 bytes) and with me (Mike Baird) between them here ana-mike-gumercinda.jpg (76942 bytes).  Here, Ana is shown again with her mother, and my very good new friends Elizabeth Jenner and Stephanie Lindquist elizabeth-ana-stephanie-gumercinda.jpg (77224 bytes).  Elizabeth and Stephanie are the primary movers of the well-regarded Friends of Pasac Segundo project (more on this project, below).  Many women women-cooking-celebration-lunch.jpg (69892 bytes) cook-at-la-pedrera.jpg (57328 bytes) worked hard to prepare some find typical food for the attendees of the La Pedrera building dedication  .

At Pasac Segundo, amazing things are happening.  Roselia Raymundo Roselia-President-of-the-Parents Committee-iI-gave-100USD.jpg (52344 bytes), the community pasac-segundo-road.jpg (72126 bytes) leader, and President of the Parent's Committee, hosted our visit, starting in her home roselia-house-community-center-best-house-in-community.jpg (58117 bytes).  We visited the bakery bakery-in-pasac.jpg (42078 bytes), the new sewing coop roselia-w-sewing-coop-pasac.jpg (59638 bytes), one of about a dozen new school rooms pasac-segundo-scene.jpg (64584 bytes) pasac-school-room.jpg (79898 bytes), homes pasac-housing.jpg (60968 bytes) of typical families pasac-family.jpg (85895 bytes),and the "famous" location where "a rock even God could not move" pasac-segundo-rock-god-could-not-move-school-site.jpg (91586 bytes) challenged volunteers clearing the land for additional classrooms. Kudos to the sincere volunteers who were working at Pasac, including (L-R Stephanie, Elizabeth, and, shown for the first time on this page, Lauren Baer) these women steph-mike-eliz-lauren-at-cafe.jpg (60586 bytes).  Ana visited the project with us, and is shown here with Elizabeth elizabeth-and-ana-at-pedrera-celebration.jpg (96494 bytes).  Shown here are some of the children of Pasac Segundo (Elizabeth w/ Jakeline) elizabeth-w-Jakeline-at-pasac.jpg (66624 bytes) delighted-kids-in-pasac.jpg (73498 bytes) children-of-pasac.jpg (69389 bytes) .  Lauren lauren-baer.jpg (36921 bytes) is shown here with the child Jakeline lauren_baer_w_Jakeline_at_pasac_r90.jpg (46636 bytes).  All now attend school, and some are receiving special medical care.  The Pasac parent's committee was using a laptop computer donated-laptop-in-pasac.jpg (68722 bytes) my-donated-laptop-in-pasac.jpg (67463 bytes) that I had earlier donated, to prepare grant proposals and promote their projects in a variety of ways.  An unlikely fixture in Pasac's dirt and concrete-floored buildings, these computers and the Internet are quickly becoming essential tools for even the most remote of organizations.  We also made a special cash donation to the committee

A visit to Ana's home (whom I've sponsored since 1996) (L-R  mother Gumercinda, Ana, father Ismael Sutuj L˛pez) ana-w-parents_gumercinda_ismael.jpg (65423 bytes) involved a quick "tune-up" of her now ancient Windows 95 PC, which was, however, equipped with a new printer.  Ana uses the Internet at language schools in town to, among other things, download poems from Pablo Neruda, and print them out at home for her reading enjoyment.  Ana's mother prepared a great lunch (almuerzo) from chicken and avocados we purchased at the market earlier in the day.  We also purchased some books for Ana, including Moby Dick and some Deepak Chopra.

Ana graduates from "high school" August 2001, and hopes to study at the university starting January 2002.  

12/01 Contribute to Ana Fabiola Sutuj Aguilar's Education Account 

We opened a small bank account to help facilitate her education.  Here, for future reference, is the information required to wire money to this account.  
Banco de Occidente
4 Ta calle 11-38 zona 01, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala (Central America)
ABA  S455BOGU (Transfer Code) (No. de Abac.)
Account holder: Gumercinda Aguilar (Nombre de la Cuenta)
Bank Account Number  0000623231 (No. de Cuenta)

The last day, we "vacationed," and took a day trip with Ana, Elizabeth, Stephanie, and Lauren to Panajachel on Logo Atitlan lake-atitlan-volcano.jpg (44383 bytes), where local color abounds atitlan-dress.jpg (62501 bytes) lago-atitlan-dress.jpg (62248 bytes) ana-atitlan-dress.jpg (54826 bytes)

Nearby, we also visited  Padre Gregory Schaffer's mission in San Luis Toliman on the shores lauren-on-way-to-san-luis-toliman.jpg (44210 bytes) of Lago Atitlan.  We missed him by an hour, as he was at a Santiago Atitlan church dedication honoring the casualties of Guatemala's vicious civil war (see postscript below) -- but, we nevertheless managed to get an update on his activities, and left a cash donation to his good cause, which he has been working on for 37 years now.  I understand that approximately 5000 people worldwide donate on average $100 a year to Father Greg's mission.  UPDATE 2008: See San Lucas Mission at sanlucasmission.org

The bus ride back (L-R Mike, Ana) mike-ana-bus-from-pana.jpg (30979 bytes) (L-R Stephanie, Ana) steph-ana-bus-pana-to-xela.jpg (36773 bytes) ("sitting seven-per-row ") to Quetzaltenango (Xela) yielded some new friends amigos-pana-to-xela.jpg (42943 bytes) admiring my digital camera.  

Finally, we made a quick reunion visit to the Irma and William de Rivera family visiting-irma-william-de-rivera-family-w-ana.jpg (49377 bytes), where I stayed for two weeks during my home stay in 1996.    8 Calle 6-05 Zona 1, Tel 761-6677. billyrivera@starmedia.com or billyrivera@latinmail.com.

Postscript  capt.guatemala_exhumations_gua104.jpg (17229 bytes) Two indigenous women observe the remains of a relative in a small coffin in the village of Santo Tomas Chiche, Guatemala, 180 kilometers (112 miles) west of Guatemala City, Wednesday, June 13, 2001. This is one of the 28 bodies discovered by the Forensic Foundation of Anthropology which were part of the victims of the massacres of Guatemala's 1960-1996 civil war. (AP Photo/Jaime Puebla)