San Cristobal de las casas, Chiapas, Mexico
It was a night with music, dance and alcohol, as all the other nights belonging to tourists.
“……or do you have money......I’m really hungry.” after I refused to buy the handcrafts the little girl sold, she looked at me and asked in trembling whispers.
“It’s really late for staying outside. Why don’t you go back home and eat?” I asked her.
“I haven’t earned enough money, so I can’t go home and can’t eat.” She said.
I gave her, this six-years-old girl, all the popcorn I had which came with my wine in the bar.
There’s a lot more of them.
Chiapas of Mexico, here is the great Mayan ancient territory, now remaining nothing but Mayan descents suffering and struggling in the darkness with their long broken shadows. Children are selling little things, snacks and handcrafts and cleaning the shoes for tourists since their childhood, and are forbidden to go back home without enough amounts in their pockets to support the families. They wander in the streets at night, with hunger, with their pale innocent faces, and with full hands of all kinds of colorful little things they sell. It is a sorrowful party.
Therefore I set up Steps in San Cristobal, calling for hands from friends. We collected the remained ingredients in the market twice a week, made simple boxes from recycled cartons, and cooked for children. By offering them free lunch boxes, we wish we can give these kids something warm, something beautiful to hold.
With all the cultural treasures, indigenous children sell their innocence by the tables in restaurants and bars－－this is their cruel but real life: no identification, unable to go to school, in lack of nutrition, in severe need of educational resource……and all the sadness coming with historic and environment context, the children here seem like the last gift from mayan culture, wrapped by dead lovely patterns as mummies and offered to the touristic resource, a sacrifice.
On the other side, the difficulty of living nibbles the culture here. The great history nowadays remains nothing but a piece of colorful light textile, ancient hard lifestyle trapped in the mounded walls, and gradually abandoned thousand-years tone. In this gloomy era, their shadows are long and skinny, as the sign of the last glory centuries ago. The mayan descendants here have forgotten their glorious culture, their stories from generations, their bloods from their ancestors; they don’t remember who they are anymore. For them, culture is but coffee, cocoa, textile, handcrafts…….those resources worth a meal. Their faces are indistinct, like the ancient masks ages ago presented in the museum, for the rough sufferings carved by living. There’s no self-identification, in lack of education, losing memory of the past, forgetting the hope towards tomorrow. For them indigenous, there’s only today, only now what’s right in front, only the continual breath despite the apathetic life.
Therefore, we started this project, remember who we are.
Remember who we are, storybook project
This project is main on conserving the mayan indigenous traditional culture, legends, stories, histories and languages into storybooks, to help indigenous be proud of themselves again, to have self-identification and acknowledgement to their culture from their true hearts. Meanwhile, combining with our storybook workshop, we also provide free educational resource to indigenous ladies and children.
Since the hard life, the lack of educational resource and historic background, most of the indigenous children here instead of going to school, they have to work in the street for day and night, selling snacks and handcrafts and cleaning the shoes. After they grow up, they can only do some cheap hard works and on the force of living, they have to ask their children to work in the street as they once were. In this vicious circle, money makes its position of their priority, while culture falls into rigid touristic resource.
On the other hand, lots of children can only speak either Spanish or their own mayan tone. Therefore we would like to provide some simple education here based on the culture in our workshop for free, to teach children how to read, how to write, how to think.
Now we are trying to raising funding to register for the project, in order to publish our books, and to publish our first book. at the same time, we are making more books and doing the free workshop for education.
Every story we have will be made into two versions of books, one in luxury way for publishing in order to get capital to support the other one in simple way for indigenous children for free and support workshop.
Steps in San Cristobal
We are a group of people who love and worry about the indigenous situation here in Chiapas. We are local writers, artists, indigenous, photographers……we are someone in love with amazing mayan culture, and want to make steps.
Probably there’s not so much we can do, but only when you try to do, to make the first step, to light up a spark for the one in need, you will then have the opportunity to see how it turns to a huge beautiful blaze.
follow us on our page, and get the news: https://www.facebook.com/stepsinsancristobal/
after we receive donation, we will glad to send you the postcard written by our indigenous children as our appreciation=)