Guatemala is a multicultural and multilingual country, with four recognised peoples: Maya, Garifuna, Xinca and Mestizo. The Mayan people are the majority and have 20 ethnic groups, each with its own language.
The Mayan cosmovision (vision to understand the world) has several principles among them:
- A holistic vision: of the integral human being (and his or her social, economic, political and cultural environment) in an intimate relationship with the earth, water, air and cosmos.
- A vision of duality and complementarity: of good/bad, achievements/failures, times of fullness/times of crisis.
- A spiritual vision: (which is non-religious) of the soul, the subjective, of the interior of each being.
We believe a crisis must be analysed in its entirety, its history, the damage it causes. Why are there groups that are more vulnerable than others and what does that means in the short, medium and long term? In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is important to analyse our model of life, our forms of the relationship among human beings but also with ecosystems. We may need a new model of civilisation.
The duality and complementarity invite us to reflect on the transience of any crisis, no matter what the time. Crises in our lives enable us to analyse, evaluate, learn but above all to move forward in a different way. COVID-19 is a new crisis, the virus is a living being with whom we will have to learn to live together because it is already part of our environment.
Quarantine and confinement have probably allowed us to be more grateful to live. It has changed the paradigm of time, of agendas, of running and running, and has allowed us to talk more with our inner selves, also with our families. It gives us another dimension to work, to business, to life itself. It teaches us to be resilient and adapt to change. The lesson of being more supportive and better human beings.
We cannot be indifferent, there is a commitment to the people and the towns especially to those who need it most. The current crisis is global, and it will be important to exchange experience, help and maintain mutual solidarity. From our countries and communities, we are called to act in the face of the effects of the crisis, but above all to give hope and to commit ourselves to always go forward because this crisis is a time for new dreams.
This paper is an attempt to show how we, as humanitarians and as hubs, understand what this crisis tells us about the world and systems we’re living in. And more importantly, what this crisis tells us about what we can do differently.
Hugo Icu Peren, is a Mayan physician and director of ASECSA (Asociación de Servicios Comunitarios de Salud) a network of community health organisations in Guatemala. Hugo is on the leadership team of the Guatemala Hub.