Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment

A Helping Hand - John and Linda Gates visited Santa Elena in December, 1997.


Alice Gates, a 1993 graduate of Oberlin High School and a 1997 graduate of Grinnell College, lives and works in Santa Elena, Guatemala. She is part of the Guatemelan Accompaniment Project, sponsored by the United Nations. Gates is charged with reporting human rights violations suffered by the the 200 Ixcan refugees in their efforts to resettle.

In 1982, the Guatemalan Army launched a terrible campaign against the native peoples of Guatemala, resulting in the death of between 50,000 and 70,000. Another 300,000 Guatemalans were displaced and forced to reside in Mexican refugee camps for ten years. Only recently, under a peace treaty brokered by the United Nations, may the refugees return to their homeland.

The residents of Santa Elena grow corn, chilis, beans and cacao. Gates picks chilis, clears areas of jungle for corn planting, and eats with different families at every meal.

The Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment is sponsored by churches, organizations and individuals in Oberlin.

Gates will return to Oberlin in April to share her experience and to help educate the community.

Source - Oberlin News Tribune 2/10/98

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