This is Rosa. She lives in Ixcán, Guatemala. She has raised her children and grandchildren there. One of her daily chores is to strip the corn cornels from the cobs and then carry them to the village corn grinder to make dough for tortillas.
As she has aged, her eye sight has failed due to cataracts. She needs your help! Enfoque Ixcán works locally to provide eye care and funds for eye surgeries.
Whether or not you’ve been to the Ixcán region of Guatemala, I’d like to describe this special place where Rosa lives. To start, I have a few questions for you:
- Do you like fresh pineapples, oranges, and corn on the cob?
- Do you like frothy cocoa with a dash of cinnamon or splash of vanilla?
If so, you would like the Ixcán! Farmers grow these crops and much more in the fertile soils of the region.
- Do you like crystalline clear lakes, lush green forests, and refreshing waterfalls?
If so, you would like the Ixcán! Its pristine nature reserves are home to a wealth of wildlife, including monkeys, jaguars, tapirs, and toucans.
- Do you appreciate cultural richness and a spirit of courage and resistance?
If so, you would appreciate the Ixcán! The population is a mix of social groups, including Q’eqchi’, K’iche’, Q’anjob’al, and Ixil Mayas and people of mixed heritage.
The history of the region exemplifies determination and resilience. Intrepid families like Rosa’s who lacked land in their home villages settled the Ixcán in the 1960s and 70s, bushwhacking with machetes to make their way through the undergrowth and then building their communities from scratch.
The region is known for its outspoken and organized communities. People from the Ixcán, including many Enfoque Ixcán patients, have bravely and successfully pursued justice for the genocide committed against Maya peoples in the 1980s and ongoing human rights violations and environmental crimes. Their groundbreaking cases have made history and bring hope to the new generation.
As you can see, there’s a lot to like and appreciate about the Ixcán! On the other hand, it does have certain drawbacks.
First, the region is remote. People in many of the Ixcán villages have to walk or ride a pick-up truck for hours just to arrive at the regional center to complete errands at the bank, registry office, law firm, or market. From there it’s a full twelve-hour journey to Guatemala City, the center of administration, government, and commerce in the country.
The Ixcán is also lacking in basic social services. Only about one fifth of the population has running water in their homes. Another daily chore for Rosa’s family is to carry water from the nearby natural springs for cooking and drinking.
The region’s sole hospital is limited to emergency care, labor and delivery, and basic outpatient services such as casting broken bones, stitching wounds, and prescribing antibiotics. There is no eye care specialist on staff.
That’s where Enfoque Ixcán comes in. If you live in the Ixcán and your parent is going blind, like Rosa, you no longer need to travel hours away for care; you can bring her to our clinic. If your eye is injured, our eye health promoters can offer treatment. If your child can’t see the board in school, our team can prescribe proper glasses.
We are grateful to our supporters for making our mission possible in this marginalized area of our shared world. We ask for your help today to continue to provide crucial services for people like Rosa in the biodiverse and culturally rich region of Ixcán, Guatemala.
Scott Pike, OD
P.S. When vision is restored to someone like Rosa, it improves not only her own life, but also the lives of her family and friends. Please give today. Thank you.