Jerry Kohler
Jerry Kohler's Fundraiser
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NISGUA supports justice for genocide, defense of natural resources, & land distribution

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What gives you hope in these difficult times of a global pandemic? My connection to the people of Guatemala and recalling the ways in which they taught and continue to teach me to view the world in a more humane, just and systemic way give me hope. You may recall that over ten years ago I (Kim) worked as a human rights accompanier with the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) to observe Guatemalans’ struggles for justice for genocide, defense of natural resources, and equitable distribution of land, disseminating urgent actions to put pressure on Guatemala and the U.S. to uphold human rights. I always remember the common refrain cited by the indigenous Guatemalan people--the victims of Spanish Conquest and centuries of racist and genocidal policies that threatened their very survival--when faced with seemingly insurmountable challenges: “We’ve been struggling for over 500 years. We aren’t going to stop now!”

This persistent hope in dark times is especially crucial as the global Covid-19 pandemic demonstrates just how much pre-existing inequities create disproportionate impacts in marginalized communities and exacerbate the problem -- While before our collective humanity was tied in to the liberation of all people, the current pandemic shows us that literally, what harms the least among us truly harms all of us.

That is why solidarity and mutual aid is so important—and especially important in times like these—and why we're supporting NISGUA’s continued work to accompany Guatemalans’ struggles for justice, land and human dignity. The pandemic is provoking governments and companies to push forward unpopular policies and human rights violations in Guatemala; however, NISGUA continues to support innovative grassroots struggles by Guatemalans, albeit in different, socially distant forms.

As I detail highlights of the many lessons of hope that the indigenous Guatemalan people taught me below, will you join us in supporting NISGUA’s work in Guatemala to help keep hope alive in challenging times for social movements.

HUMANITY

Ma sa laa ch’ol? The indigenous Q’eqchi’ greeting for “How are you?” goes beyond English question and answer patterns in which we settle on one word answers - “good” or “fine,” and move on to the “real” business. Ma sa laa ch’ol translates to “Is your heart happy?” and opens the door to a real inquiry into the state of your emotional being. It allows you to answer by saying “my heart is happy” or “my heart hurts,” which invites a deeper conversation about how your experiences and relationships in the world emotionally impact you. This brings humanity to daily conversations and facilitates consciousness around how emotion and action are inextricably intertwined.

Will you join us in supporting NISGUA’s work in Guatemala to help keep humanity alive?

JUSTICE

While in Guatemala, historic genocide trials were on the verge of commencement and I had the honor to discuss with survivors what justice for the brutal loss of their family members, displacement from their villages and country, and the loss of their crucial means of survival would look like to them. I was surprised by the sense of humanity and community that they brought even to unthinkable crimes committed against them. What felt most just to them was not draconian punishment and banishing from society that sending the perpetrators to jail would do. Instead, they preferred that the perpetrators admit wrongdoing and seek reconciliation with their victims. They saw justice not as a cycle of tit for tat, but as a question of what will be most healing for all involved in a grave wrongdoing against society? This sort of justice would attempt to address the racist root causes of the problem of genocide instead of to dissuade similar actions through punishment, as punitive justice systems like those in the western world seek to do.

Will you join us in supporting NISGUA’s work in Guatemala to help keep justice alive?

By making a gift today, you'll ensure the sustainability of NISGUA's work to continue cultivating long-term, transnational relationships grounded in a shared vision for global change.This is a crucial moment and every dollar counts. Between May 15 and May 31, 2020, all donations received up to $50,000 will be matched dollar for dollar!

We are honored to connect with you during these times when we are all looking to keep hope alive!

All our best,

Kim & Jerry