I'm Laurie Levinger. I live in Vermont and have been a volunteer English teacher in Guatemala since 2004. During my first teaching experience, one of the young Maya students in the program described himself as a “survivor of the Guatemala civil war”. At that point I realized I didn’t know anything about the civil war and so in 2005 I returned to Guatemala and began collecting testimonies from young Maya men and women about their experiences during “la violencia” as the civil war is called. For many of them this was their first time talking about, or hearing other people talk about, these traumas.
One of their major concerns was that young people are growing up during a time when this history is still not openly discussed. It is not taught in any detail in history books and it is often not discussed in their own families or communities. To ensure that these stories continue to be told, I have written a book, Cual Guerra? Testimonios de Sobrevivientes Mayas (What War? Testimonies of Maya Survivors) which was published in Guatemala in 2009. The first 1000 copies were sold out and a second run of 1000 copies was published in December 2011.
This Crowdrise project will make it possible for me to buy the books and to pay to distribute them to schools and libraries throughout the country. It is essential that young Guatemalans hear the words of people like themselves to learn from the past, break the culture of silence, and preserve historical memory.
In addition, in an effort to make the testimonies available to the widest possible audience we have started a website where survivors can post their testimonies and read those of others. Crowdrise donations will fund the maintenance of website: levinger.net/cualguerra.
At this time in Guatemalan history when the genocide against the Maya is being denied by those in power, it is of critical importance that the truth be told in as many ways as possible. We believe that reading Cual Guerra? as well as the testimonies on the website will help break the silence. Please join us in supporting the Cual Guerra project.
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