19 –

Painting As Environmental Conscientiousness Raising

Many women are working in their communities in various areas and some are enthusiastically making major changes through art in order to create a more just society.  In this article we share with you EntreMundos’ experience working with a project which has changed art and the environment to create a social and environmental awareness.  It is coordinated by our comrades from Fatima Association and the Network of Young Volunteers for Social Justice.

The Association of Parents of the Fatima Family began its work on November 2, 1988 and has been doing so for more than 25 years.  It was created by a group of nuns from the Catholic Church in the San Juan Ostuncalco Municipality in Quetzaltenango along with a group of parent-members of the Fatima family.  Luz Guzman, director of the program, says that Fatima’s mission is to contribute to a better way of life for children, adolescents, young adults, and parents of the families who make up the association’s membership.  It strives to do this through processes of reflection and education around topics of health, human rights and citizen participation while respecting socio-cultural diversity.  

Luz says, “Children’s and youth’s education is the most important means and the foundational center for transformation and building of a better nation.”  Based on this concept, this past July, Fatima created a mural in the rural public school Mixta Pacaja which is located in Zone 10 of Quetzaltenango.  The mural, with emphasis on caring for the environment, was part of one of EntreMundos’ volunteer mini-projects coordinated with organizations in its volunteer database.

Luz explains that the idea for this project came out of promoting consciousness  about the environment among the locals in a creative way.   The mural which was titled “We Must Respect and Support Nature” shows a contaminated scene next to a clean environment.  In the lower area of the mural one sees the industrial sector emanating smoke and pollutant gases showing the impact that contamination makes.  In the upper area three children are pictured playing while supported and protected by a hand in which a variety of plants are growing.  This section alludes to mother earth and healthy space within nature.  The mural makes one reflect on the idea that even with pollution, nature continues to protect us.

This mural was painted on the front wall of the school conveying the message to the passers-by on foot, in vehicles and the urban buses as well as the student community.  It’s calling out to the population in general.  The creation of the mural would not have been possible without the participation of a group of volunteers from the Young Artists for Social Justice Network and their representative Thelma Suchi, all of whom have given of their artistic skills, their time and from their hearts.

Gloria Mendoza, a Network volunteer states that the mural’s message is very important because it is a predicament causing current problems throughout the country.  Gabriela points out that the increase of greenhouse gases are not only emitted by factories but also by the increased use of vehicles.  Therefore society must continue working on this issue.  She says, “Unfortunately, children are growing up in the smoke and if this is not countered it will affect the future of the health and the emotional development of every child.”  

Although it was merely a three-day project, the mural’s creation was a motivator.  There was constant participation of women working energetically, passionately to offer an important message to the population.  We hope to continue counting on such activities in the future and that more women can also organize to conserve and improve the environment surrounding us.