A documentary on Guatemala’s struggle to repair itself and its people following a 36-year civil war.
On the morning of June 18. 1954, the US CIA dropped leaflets in Guatemala City demanding the resignation of the president. Guatemala was ravaged by Civil War for the next 36 years. But hope is rising. In the midst of incredible odds, victims have been transformed into champions who willfully embrace the pain of their past to help repair the next generation. This is their story. Shorty – a former gang member who is now a pastor, and Tita – a woman who started a school in Guatemala’s most notorious slum have joined forces to repair La Limonada.
After several years of infertility, our hope for a child was realized in January 2006 when we traveled to Guatemala to meet our son Micah. Less than a three hour flight from Atlanta, Guatemala is a land of incredible diversity – ancient Mayan ruins in the lowlands, centuries old Spanish Colonial architecture in the highlands, beautiful beaches, volcanoes and lush rain forests. Among all of this beauty is a people with great needs. 75% of the population lives below the poverty line. There are an estimated 20,000 children living in orphanages and at least 6,000 more live in the streets of Guatemala City alone. Gang culture, chronic malnutrition, poor education and lack of resources prevent countless Guatemalans from rising above their oppressed condition. In January 2008, these statistics were personalized for me. I visited a maximum security prison with a missionary friend to meet some gang members he worked with. My heart raced as we entered the locked down section of the compound devoted to active gang members. The guard opened the gate for us but did not enter himself – it was too dangerous for him. As he locked the gate behind us, I was surrounded by hundreds of men covered in gang tattoos. Yet behind the frightening war paint, were the eyes of young men with stories – stories of struggle. While many of them had committed horrible crimes, I couldn’t stop thinking about the circumstances that limited their choices in the first place.That night I had difficulty sleeping. I realized that in different circumstances, either of my Guatemalan sons could have ended up in that prison … and honestly, so could I. It wasn’t enough that I adopted two sons. My mind was captivated by what I witnessed and my soul demanded that I respond. So, I gathered a crew and traveled back to Guatemala to explore these stories. I began to ask questions – Why do people join gangs? Why do children live on the street? What caused the ram- pant poverty? What caused the enormous slums? When did all of this begin? I learned that the majority of issues in Guatemala today are connected to a 36 year civil war which ended in 1996. Fathers were killed. Families were destroyed. And people fleeing violence created some of the largest slums in Latin America. But hope is rising. In the midst of incredible odds, victims have been transformed into champions who willfully embrace the pain of their past to help repair the next generation.