4 Ajaw 3 Sak (October 20, 2020): Renewing the World, Hope for the Future: Reading and Writing the Ojeer Maya Tz’iib in Santa Cruz del Quiché

4 Ajaw 3 Sak: Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara

Juan Rodrigo Guarchaj introduces the Pre-Congreso Workshop

Today, the Cholq’ij returns to the day 4 Ajaw, the day on which the world was renewed. Today, we continue to hope for a better tomorrow, and it is hard to believe that it has been one full cycle of the Cholq’ij since this pandemic arrived, and our world has been forever changed. I have recently heard from our good friend and President of the PLFM, Ajpub’ Pablo García Ixmatá, about the tremendous challenges facing his community and many others like his at this moment, and the painful devastation that Maya communities are having to contend with this year, and I think it is important to share some of his words with you today. Many Maya communities have suffered with lack of adequate healthcare after a surge of cases this past summer, and a reported infection rate that has remained consistently high since then. I am heartbroken to learn that Ajpub’ has lost multiple friends and family to COVID-19. He writes:

Dear Friend,

Thank you very much for the communication, the truth is it has been a very hard year… Of the dead alone in my community, approximately 60 people have left us, almost one daily in a small community, and there are still people at home, without medicine and without medical attention. The government has totally abandoned health centers, hospitals. It really is a collapse.

The truth is that many families need help, not only in my community but many, both for those who have died and those who lost jobs, they have nothing to eat. But, it is a huge struggle, truly…

The truth is, the modality of the classes now has been a challenge and obstacle for all of us. And of course, students and co-workers are missed. But let’s hope that little by little, we are re-emerging from this problem. As long as we do not have the medicine or vaccine for this disease, we have to take care of ourselves, and others.

The current challenges of the pandemic have made holding workshops and classes an impossibility for so many of us around the world, which has forced us to put our mini-grant program on hold, along with this year’s Congreso, previously scheduled for August. Nevertheless, Ajpub’ and I have discussed the possibility of promoting online workshops in the New Year to see if there is any interest, and to offer some hope for a better future as we are all so isolated right now, but there may be something we can do to provide some hope. Ajpub’ suggested, and I agreed that we should send out a survey to assess the potential for holding online Zoom classes for Maya teachers and students and to assess if they have online access, or what they may need in order to participate in an online workshop. Of course, we must recognize the over-arching priorities of health, work, and food security that are paramount right now for so many of our Maya colleagues, and we hope to be able to offer what we can, in whatever way is feasible within the parameters of our organization. In the coming months, I hope to update you on our progress, including any other reports back from Maya teachers and their communities that we receive.

Today, we publish our last report from one year ago, before the world changed so dramatically, and it reminds us of a better time. We hear from our friend and former Director of the PLFM, Juan Rodrigo Guarchaj Tzep, about the phenomenal pre-Congreso event he held at Rafael Landivar University in Santa Cruz del Quiché in October of 2019. Our friend, the renowned teacher Aj Xol Ch’ok facilitated the instruction. Originally designed as a workshop for only 20 students, it greatly expanded to include 60 participants from the surrounding K’iché, Ixil, Sakapulteko, and Uspanteko communities. The majority of the participants were speakers of K’iché, with others who were Spanish speakers, and several others speaking Kaqchikel, Q’eqchi’, and Tz’utujil. We fondly look back to a time when these kinds of large workshops were possible, and we look towards a future when we can all return to working together again.

May we all find healing and strength in this time, and we wish all of you and all of our Maya friends and their communities health, strength, and hope for the future.

Sib’alaj Maltyox, Chajij awib’,
Michael Grofe, President

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