I have been here in Guatemala for more than 16 days and I have seen so many miracles happen so far. The office is great and the people… are even better! I also got to know a new aunt and she is wonderful and so cool; she is all about Gender Equality and Humans Rights. I guess the passion for justice runs in the family! Her family is wonderful too. I am learning so much from her. I have been staying with them these last few days.
But let me share some of the highlights of these 16 days at the office:
- A guy received a 10 year sentence for sexually assaulting one of our clients.
- Our Investigation team was able to arrest a guy that was on the run for a long time, and they were also able to find a suspect that was “missing.” The police officers in charge told our team this guy moved, but when our team went to find the address the perpetrator was there! Our team is awesome!
- THIS IS PROBABLY THE BEST NEWS WE HAD: My second or third day at the office, we got a perpetrator who had appealed his previous guilty sentence and was set free. When our lawyers appealed, he was sent to jail again for the crime of rape. The judge not only added to the previous sentence and convicted him for a total of 28 years in jail, but also demanded a HUGE amount of money that this guy has to pay in order to get out of jail. (Never going to happen.) This adds up to a total of 67 or more years in jail for rape crime against a young girl. PRAISE GOD, FOR JUSTICE WAS SERVED FOR THIS GIRL!
I woke up and the only thing I felt like was crying, don´t ask me why. Perhaps it has something to do with being away from home for father´s day and missing a family dinner, or it might be that I am actually accepting that I am here, where God wants me in a new country where I have no control whatsoever over anything, or because I have been missing church and my friends, or – as the song says – “it is just the weather”.
But beside the fact that I feel like crying, to be honest, today was one of the best days I have had so far! It started with two great meetings, me actually feeling useful and capable in my job, Choco Friday on a Thursday (fruit covered in chocolate and shared at the office), giving a presentation about the way we are building our advocacy strategy and seeing that people actually got our point!
And, to add joy to my day, I was able to participate (meaning sit there in a corner and just observe and listen) on a parents’ therapy group session. These parents were there because they believe that restoration is possible, not only for their kids, whom have been sexually assaulted, but for themselves and for the family. My heart was moved.
The group had almost 20 mothers and 2 dads. Yes, 2 guys where there for therapy. I was amazed by one of them! When someone asked him his name and how was he feeling, he said, “Before that, I just want to apologize to all the women here. I want to apologize on behalf of all men. For the way we treat women, for the pain we have inflicted, and for not knowing how to support you or protect you.” –WOW! That was powerful.
Most of the moms were talking about how IJM has been part of their lives. One of them said to the other mom: “I know it is hard, but don´t lose hope. I have learned that even when your family is not there to help you, God and IJM will be by your side all the way. You are not alone, they are our family.” They consider us family, how wonderful is that!
I might not be close to my family right now, but here, in a country that has suffered so much, I am considered part of this family, a family that seeks justice and will do as much as they can to be there with you, because God allows us to do so. How cool is that!
There will be other days when I wake up and feel that the only thing I want to do is cry, but I will treasure this moment in my heart and I´ll keep holding to the truth that God is good, God is Emmanuel, God is with us all the time.
Love to you all!