dai volontari

The power of the powerless

By Magdalena Bauhofer

On my bus ride to Villa Nueva, I can already see from far the little houses that make the community so special and unique. They are very similar and the highest have three floor ́s. Most of them are painted in different colors and seem as if they are not finished yet. The streets have garbage on the sides, and here and then there is some drunk men sleeping on a corner. Sometimes you see some street dogs who ́s death body is rotting in the sun. It ́s hot and there are a lot of different smells who come to your nose – there is the smell of fries and fried fish, there is the smell of shit and pie that runs over the street because of broken tubes and there is the smell of fresh made tortillas by some women which eyes look into your deepest fears. Some days I buy my breakfast in the Centra Sur, which is close to one of the biggest markets of central america – pan con jamon for 8 Q. The women of the stand already knows me, and when I ́m not passing by for some days, she ask ́s me if everything is ok.
The 23 calle where I walk to the Cultural Center in which I work, there is always at least one police car driving by and you can see them staring out there windows making you feel more uncomfortable then when some guy on the street screams after you. They always drive slower and sometimes I am afraid they stop and start talking to me or asking me for my passport. It ́s weird how you get used to being afraid of certain things and it ́s weird that those who shall protect you, are here often those who use there power the most to hurt you. And it still makes me laugh, how they take there lunch break near the only football field. They are all gathering around those three trees as if those three trees can give them back some peace they have lost a long time ago.
The sun burns so strong, that I am always very happy to finally arrive at the Cultural CenterNormally I walkreally fast. But sometimes when I walk more slowly I look into peoples faces and tell them `Buen Dia ́ and then they smile at you with there broken teeth. The kids who come to the cultural center, are all out of broken families. Some get beaten by there fathers, some have alcoholic parents, some have already taken drugs themselves or have brothers or sisters who got killed. I can ́t believe with what those youngsters have to deal with. The most of them, have already seen how someone got shot, how someone died in front of there eyes. They say the war has ended since 20 years, but it just flipped over to something else.
Many people told me, that a lot of things I don ́t understand, are results of a post-war society, which still has to rehabilitate. So is it, that people almost never scream or get angry. When someone gets angry, he try ́s to hide it, or tell’s you a week later, when the anger has already faded. Also in Guatemala there are almost no classes in schools, where you talk about the armed conflict, about the `desaparecidos ́ or about the massacres the military made in the villages of this country. I believe it ́s in the interest of the Government itself, that people stay in this state of not-knowing and in this state of fear, so they are more controllable.
In Villa Nueva this year already happened around 20 homocides or more, two of them really close to where I work. Both where girls. One even in front of her school. The next day, you can read it in the paper, where they show you every little detail. From which angel, with which gun and how the bullets hit where. It ́s just part of everyday ́s life.I feel like many of the people think, that they have no power over there life ́s, over the system, that they can ́t change the violence, the fear ́s and the poorness. But they have a lot of power, at least over me. I can ́t get them out of my head and I can ́t get them out of my thoughts. They move me. They have more power then they think. I hope that they will get more and more angry and that they do start to fight for what is their lives and their rights to live.

Guatemala, 2017

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