Today we visited the community of La Selva and met with gang members. We learned a lot about the history of the country in terms of politics and social structures and how gangs factor into the equation. Gang members face discrimination, harassment, and heinous brutality from the police and the military on a daily basis. Our presence in the community kept the soldiers and police from entering the community. I am not posting pictures of the young men we talked to or other pictures of graffiti and paintings in order to protect the privacy and perhaps safety of the men we talked to. Unfortunately the social structures, institutions, media, and other members of the community do not allow gang members to re-enter society or change easily. The testimonies today of the young men reminded me of numerous human rights violations, especially the right to not be subjected to torture and discrimination.
We next visited a community health clinic. This center is focused on providing services and resources that members of the community are unable to receive from the public health system. Two doctors come and treat patients in the morning and afternoon. This center is committed to helping and treating everyone the same, and the gang members that we talked to earlier are welcome to go there for medical attention. Health care and access to adequate health care is a human right and unfortunately medical resources are politicalized and are not available for everyone based on monetary greed.
Our next stop was a Masculinidades workshop with San Bartolome de las Casas, which I loved. This group works to prevent gender-based violence and works with men, women, youth, and children discussing gender and what it means to be a man. As a group we did some exercises discussing this topic and had a very good conversation as to how gender intersects with numerous social issues all over the world and in individual communities. I loved this site because this is not only one of my favorite subjects and a topic that I am passionate about, but I enjoyed working in small groups and as a whole group discussing these issues and how they play a role in our own lives. Equality is an essential human rights goal and value and this workshop was beneficial in striving toward this goal.
After dinner we watched a short documentary on Probusqueda, which is an organization that is committed to reconnecting lost children (now adults) that were separated from their families during the war. During the war the soldiers would kidnap children and sell them to adoption agencies under the guise that their parents were dead (although some of the children's parents were murdered either in front of them or later on) or would raise them as their own children. After the war ended in the nineties, parents were able to safely demand for the whereabouts of their children. This movie was very emotional and was a reminder as to the severity in fighting and advocating for human rights and an end to violence and injustice in government and societal structures.