|Posted by Sam Chase on June 24, 2013 at 5:55 PM|
6/24/13: After a fairly easy flight into La Aurora Airport on Friday, Joe and I have finally joined Javier in Guatemala City! John Bengtson is finishing up an internship in Washington DC and will be joining the group on the 30th, by which time we hope to have the basics of the project up and running. Before we arrived, Javier was busy preparing and establishing contacts within the business and NGO communities, and participated in an Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab (J-PAL) conference for economists and leaders of humanitarian efforts in Latin America. Our program was chosen to receive advice and support, at no cost, from professional advisers and directors, which will be incredibly useful to us as we navigate the process of becoming an effective force for change in Guatemala. He also traveled to rural areas in the hopes of finding information about migrant communities and opportunities there. While we have determined that our budget constraints will almost certainly restrict our effective reach to within the confines of Guatemala City, the trip did provide insight into the pain and struggles that many migrants and their families face as a result of the failure of support networks and institutions both within Guatemala and internationally. If nothing else, hearing Javier recount these stories served to reaffirm our commitment to assisting members of society made vulnerable by harmful and unfair social and legal institutions.
To this end, we hope to conduct a study in which we measure relative long term effectiveness of two parallel systems of support for formerly deported migrant workers: we hope to determine if direct employment in the private sector, or practical educational opportunities which would hopefully lead to skilled-labor jobs are more effective in raising the socio-economic status of migrants over a long period of time. This undertaking will be difficult, as keeping in contact with the people who we help over a period of time long enough to produce usable results will be a challenge in and of itself, as well as the already complex process of matching migrant workers with jobs which we are already engaged in. To this end we hope to explore partnership opportunities with other organizations that are undertaking similar efforts in Guatemala City and we hope to meet with representatives from both governmental agencies and non-governmental organizations soon. Additionally, we are conducting surveys to determine the public perceptions of the stigmas against deported migrants so we can better address them, both in the workplace and in civil society. We hope to conduct interviews with migrants themselves, and to create a short film to document and share their experiences as well.
On a more personal note, Guatemala is an incredibly beautiful country which I cannot wait to explore more fully during our downtime. The city itself is bounded by mountains on all sides and situated in what is known as the Valle de la Ermita, which really makes for a picturesque view from the window of our apartment. As touristy as it might be, I am really excited to climb an active volcano! My Spanish is very poor but improving, and Joe is getting better every day. That’s all for now, we will post more updates when we have them!
Categories: Reconciliation (2013)