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Mercy's reflection on the Kenya gathering

My participation in the trainings of the Youth in Action Project has transformed my way of thinking and has made me more aware of the systems of oppression that have made our societies what they are. I am sure that all the members of this project have lived the best experiences in our lives in the Philadelphia, USA and Kenya, Africa gatherings, because we have been able to exchange experiences of the organization's and creative activities in community organization and deepen our analysis of the causes, and consequences, of racism, colonialism, and imperialism. 

My experience has been ¡incredible! These activities have generated a huge awareness about everything that happens around the world. This experience has been deeply internalized inside of me and my social work in my community has taken on a great meaning. Meeting with all those young leaders of different countries, cultures, languages, and ways of thinking, and the diverse experiences of resistance to social injustice, has allowed me to grow in empathy and has motivated me to resist all the oppression that is experienced day by day. It has motivated me not to naturalize violence in all the senses, around me, and to fight for the transformation of the society in where I live.

Since this opportunity to participate in this amazing project, I have shared all the knowledge and analysis tools I acquired in each meeting. Now more than 20 young activists participating in the Guatemala program are interested in applying each one of the tools and transforming the context in which we live. For some years now, we have been forming a local peace network where young members of local organizations in Guatemala meet monthly to be able to organize themselves in community work in the country. We have learned through some replicas of the youth in action training, that we need to organize ourselves better, be responsible for the knowledge we acquire and not work alone, but unite our community movements with all the key players in our country to achieve the change we want to see.

Also, along with several students from different schools of high schools, we have organized to deepen the analysis on how our identity, our culture and the coexistence with the different indigenous peoples in Guatemala, has been influenced by colonialism, racism and imperialism and how they have created violent actions full of hate speech towards cultural diversity in our country, and that is why we are organizing ourselves to promote a different message through a visual campaign, which counteracts that hate message we heard day after day.

In Guatemala, there is a lot of classism, and it is one of the accepted discriminatory forms that can be found in various social groups. This oppression denies opportunities based on highly racist and classist criteria, therefore, having white skin, wearing fashionable clothes, mentioning a renowned name, or having purchasing power might open up  several high positions to you. 

Also, depending on the prejudices of each person, which come from the colonialism time, they could give you a respectful treatment or not, which shows that Guatemala is full of many prejudices. Unfortunately, in Guatemala, especially among young people, there is a strong tendency to reject who they are, and where they come from, and seek to be part of a social group with high purchasing power, and that`s why after my participation in the training "Resist and Built", I decided to encourage all of my co-workers, members of local organizations, and students participating in the Guatemala Program to break with these absurd traditions that we have tried to impose over the years.

My message for everyone who reads this website is to join us and practice equality exercises, worry about the situation that our people are living in, treat other with due respect, even though we look different, and continue to promote respect to our human rights because we all benefit when we care about the welfare of others.  --Mercy Sosa

Read more about Youth in Action's Kenya gathering