by Zoe ~
Today was the funeral for the local firefighter that lost his life while fighting a forest fire in the department of Petén.
We arrived at the funeral and Gloria was the first one to greet the grandmother and the family. She kissed the elder and high priest on his hand as a sign of respect. The family burst into tears and said that they are very thankful for the food donation we had brought them. They said thank you to Sharon for all that she has done for them, and for not abandoning them. The wife, now widow, thanked Gloria and gave her a big hug and started crying. She said she is grateful and that they, Gloria and Sharon, are special and how FundaMaya has never denied them help. The mother broke down in tears when Gloria asked how her children were. She was carrying her 2 year old, and her sister-in-law had the 3 month old baby. She was upset. She said the father was the only one who supported the family. The older sisters have married and moved out. She is devastated and doesn't know how she will be able to survive with 6 children and no income.
The newspaper people started to come in at that time because the Petén forests are still burning and the firefighters have been there fighting the fires for days. It has been in the news. As a generous thank you, the family served us Pulique and tamales, it was very good. We didn't eat until the coffin was taken out of the house. The coffin was carried out into the courtyard by his co-workers who were with him when he died. It was very hard for them as the head firefighter told them they weren't able to feel anything, but three of them shed many tears. The family members said thank you to the community and the father was carried out of the home. It looked like the whole community was there. One of the higher elders, a Priest, came and it was interesting how they treated him, everyone kissed him on the hand in a show of respect.
We were there from 11.30 until 4. Getting there was the hardest part, as we had to walk through the fields and mud. It was a very sad day. It was very hard to be there, but I was glad to have attended. It shows why we help people. Gloria and the junta decided to bring a little food to them now as many people also gave them things. Next week we will go to see what their biggest needs are because as the news dies down it will only be them and it will be very hard.