Guatemalan art aids single mothers in need

Arte de Guatemala is an annual event celebrating Guatemalan heritage and displays the talents and skills of the native people.

John Brown University is hosting the event selling art and displaying paintings of the people who created it.

The profits will aid families and children back in Guatemala. This year the event focuses on single mothers in a market area called La Terminal.

Countless pieces will be sold, including the hundreds of bracelets made by Guatemalans; there will be approximately 250 items for sale and one silent auction item.

Among the items for sale will be paintings made by either a family or a single child.

These paintings were part of the program that focused on reaching out to single mothers and their children.

Joe Walenciak, the teacher of the Guatemala Gateway class, said, “It’s a story. We want to present the people not as objects of pity, but people who are able to create beauty.”

“This program is great because we aren’t just giving things to the people but helping them earn money by bringing their products to an area where they’ll sell for more,” said Zoë Shafer, a freshman in the Guatemala Gateway class.

Alejandra Oroxon, a volunteer in the event and founder of the program Accíon Urbana, said the money provides necessities for the families, which they may not have otherwise been able to afford.

“If moms manage to pay for the education of their children, we help them with food, clothing or medicine,” said Oroxon.

Oroxon lives in Guatemala, and has constant contact with the people of the community.

Walenciak calls her “the feet on the ground” because she helps manage most of the events and finances that partake in the program.

The event has chosen to focus on helping women from La Terminal, because at this location is a big dump where many people, including youth and families, scavenge to survive.

The areas around the dump where these people live are very dangerous, especially for women and children.

Usually if a person or child is able to work or go to school, they do so and afterwards return to the dump to either rest for the night or scavenge.

Children are especially abused in this area. The children work long hours, some adults abuse them verbally and physically, and the presence of drug cartels threatens their safety.

While collecting pieces for Arte de Guatemala, the people involved with the program will minister to the children and their families.

Events that help with outreach include the March Mission trip with programs for kids in the street, grocery handouts and medical care and talking and praying with families.

Many times the people who live in this area of Guatemala feel like part of the trash, and part of the ministry is to show them how God created them in his image.

The event will be on Nov. 14 in the Siloam Springs community building, and will have a viewing from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.