Hello, welcome to EdgyAmelia. This blog accompanies my Etsy Store EdgyAmelia, and is a space where I explain the story behind the store and what I intend to do with my proceeds.
This story begins back in November, when I attended a speaking event hosted by the Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC), where a good friend of mine works. At the event, Maria Cuc Choc, a Mayan Q’eqchi activist and commuinty leader from Guatemala spoke about her struggles for indigenous rights, land rights, and women’s rights in her community of El Estor.
I was very moved by Maria’s talk, and especially affected by her description of a violent incident where a private security guard hired by the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN) shot German Choc, a young man at point blank range, paralyzing him. Maria explained that her community was seeking funds for a small store so that German could become economically self-sufficient and seeking funds for his ongoing medical care.
The story of how German came to be paralyzed stuck in my mind long after the talk. Being able to express myself physically–through art, yoga, exercise, is an important touchtone of who I am. To imagine having that ability permanently taken away, not by accident but by another human, was devastating to contemplate. But imagining myself as German, I thought of two facts that would make our cases drastically different. As an American, I could take for granted that (1) the person who shot me would be held accountable in the justice system, and (2) I would be able to attain medical care-either through my own income or public assistance benefits.
With these thoughts swirling in my mind, I was motivated to research a funding source that would help German open his store and provide for his medical care. Maria’s request for funds intrigued me because of my background working on benefits assistance for people with disabilities in the United States. I have worked in a government agency on a research project that explored the overlap of low-income people with disabilities who qualify for two public benefits programs. I have also worked at a microlending organization that awards low-interest loans to people with disabilities so that they may start their own businesses and purchase Assistive Technologies. I wanted to explore what parallels to these services existed in Guatemala.
I began researching micro-loans, but I learned from the organization Rights Action, which is raising funds for German’s store and medical care as part of its mission to promote human rights and community organizations in Guatemala, El Salvador, Honduras, and Chiapas, that German was not a good candiate for a loan because his medical needs would prevent him from being able to repay it.
Next, I researched grants but encountered challenges in finding foundations that would award $7,500, the amount needed for German’s store and medical care, to an individual. This juncture was where I had a brainstorm, and decided to get creative. I love to create-knit, sew, sculpt, transform raw materials into a living vision that had previously only existed in my imagination. I have contemplated setting up an Etsy Store for awhile, but something always held me back. I realize that “something” was that I needed to combine my creativity with my values. Specifically with my desire to help those who are vulnerable attain the means to advocate for themselves more effectively.
Here is where I am now: working to raise $7,500 one craft at a time. This journey will progress at a snail’s pace, which is why I have chosen a snail as my logo. But I sincerely believe that with your help and solidarity we will inch together to our goal of providing German with the funds for his store and medical care.
If you are interested in learning more about Guatemalan human rights and international disability rights, please check out the “Nothing About Us Without Us” tab.