From Guatemala to Castlegar: a journey in healing shared

By Contributor
October 26th, 2012

One and all are invited to a presentation by Julio Cochoy, founder of the Maya Skills women’s jewelry cooperative of Guatemala.

It will take place at St. Rita’s church on Nov.2 by donation. Guests will enjoy refreshments and dessert, and organizers will be selling beautifully handcrafted and fairly traded jewelry that the women have made, the majority of whom are widows.

Cochoy will be sharing the process of healing that he and the people of his community are undergoing since the civil war, much of which is chronicled in his two books.  His first book, available in the Selkirk Library, is entitled Rompiendo el Silencio (Breaking the Silence) and deals with the individual stories of the survivors from Santa Lucia Utitlan.

These testimonies were used by the United  Nations in its investigations into the allegations of genocide. 

As a bonus, Cochoy will be selling unique and beautifully handcrafted jewellery made by a group of women from a cooperative that Julio helped to initiate.  His commitment to the women’s economic well-being arose from their stories of the disappearance and murder of their loved ones, the majority of whom were the economic providers for the family. The death of so many males during the genocide has left many of the Indigenous widows in Guatemala extremely poor and further marginalised, given their very low status as widows.

The Nursing Program from Selkirk College has had the good fortune of working with Cochoy since their inaugural trip to Guatemala in 2006.  He is a knowledgeable person, inspirational speaker, and one who is committed to building bridges of goodwill between our countries.  In addition to the Selkirk College Nursing Program’s work with Cochoy, the youth program from the United Church of Canada, BC Conference, has also partnered with the cooperative and Cochoy for a number of years when bringing youth to Guatemala on their global awareness program.