Embracing the pain of their past to heal the next generation.
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.
FORM: Documentary, Feature
GENRE: Drama, Reality, Social Issue, Biography
NICHE: Third World, Social Justice, Latino
RUNNING TIME: 70 Minutes
LANGUAGES: Spanish, English
SUBTITLES: English, Spanish
DIRECTOR: Scott Owen Moore
RELEASE DATE: 2010
Grand Rapids Film Festival
Kansas International Film Festival
Omaha Film Festival
Mexico International Film Festival
Oaxaca Film Festival
ICVM Film Festival
Joel Van Dyke, Athentikos board member and Director of CTM in Guatemala The two featured leaders of Reparando, Erwin “Shorty” Luna and Tita Evertz, have garnered multiple contacts as a result of the film that have lead to funding initiatives, special project development, speaking engagements, and the addition of countless volunteers. Hundreds of ministries and churches have used the film to promote their work in Guatemala, mobilize volunteers, orient short-term missions team to the country, give historical context to Guatemala’s current social challenges. One of many examples of the impact of Athentikos work is found in the story of Living Word School located in Mixco, Guatemala. When school principal, Yadira Arriaza Morales, saw Reparando, she contacted the Center for Transforming Mission with an idea to expose a group of struggling Guatemalan teens from her school to the leaders and work happening in La Limonada. She showed the film to her students in the school and the selected 15 youth to take a special excursion to La Limonada to meet personally with Shorty, walk the alley’s of La Limonada, visit the schools that Tita has started and visit families in their homes. CTM set up the visit and is was a huge success. The students Yadira brought, all whom were teetering on the brink of joining gangs, selling drugs and leaving school, were mesmerized by Shorty’s story and were deeply moved to take inventory of their own lives. They fell in love with the heart of service they encountered in La Limonada. Shorty shared his dream for a large school facility for the myriad of kids still on waiting lists to attend a decent school in La Limonada. Yadira and Shorty found a very large building that had been a formal school but now vacant. It just so happens that Yadira knows the owner of that facility personally and is negotiating with the owners about reopening the building as a school. She knows what it would take to start a new school there. I put them all in contact with Tita and now they are all talking and dreaming about starting a fully accredited school in La Limonada!