Bridget - The Brehen family story crosses continents. It includes migration, forced displacement from home and land, and rebuilding in new countries; stories that I came to understand through my work at NISGUA. I decided to fundraise for NISGUA as a family team this year because for 13 years my parents and sister have donated to NISGUA's work supporting Guatemalan human rights and environmental justice leaders to protect life, water, land and culture. Join our family in supporting this important work! Below, I interviewed them about what supporting NISGUA's work has meant to them.
Bianca - I teach English Language Arts to middle school aged kids, most of whom have international backgrounds. It's important for my students and their families to feel secure and safe here; what happens to my immigrant students really impacts my school and my neighborhood. As a biracial person with immigrant parents, it would have meant a lot to me if people had known about our culture and identity when we were growing up, to have a better understanding of who I am and where I come from. NISGUA has helped me understand the struggles the people of Guatemala are going through and supports me to make curriculum that is culturally relevant to my students' lives, make other people aware of the issues, and talking about what happens in Guatemala. Learning about struggles in Guatemala helps me understand the struggles of my students and my neighbors.
Johan - I support NISGUA because I'm a refugee. My family and I were kicked out of Indonesia and my parents had to choose to leave and go to Holland. We were treated as refugees when we came to Holland and in the beginning, we were not treated well. They called us names because of our color. I think that's usually the beginning of the immigrant experience, people don't understand immigrants when they first come. At school, they didn't teach about the people who were in the colony in Indonesia, so when we came they didn't treat us like other Dutch people. Immigrants in the U.S. are also not treated equal. Indigenous people in Guatemala are not treated equal. They need our support as the international community. NISGUA is supporting Indigenous people who are repressed by the government, and I think it's important to support them. How are Native people treated here in the U.S.? They are not treated with the same rights as other people. Who are actually American people? It's the Native people. Everyone else is immigrants. That is why I am a sustaining donor of NISGUA.
Lineke - I support NISGUA because we support our daughter, and also because of how it connects to personal experience and what is happening in the U.S. right now. The war in Europe ended a month after I was born in Holland. My life growing up wasn't bad and it wasn't until later on in life when I realized we were poor. My dad was a farmer who lost his land during the war and you could tell it really affected him. It was always in his heart and it's sad in a way that he never recovered from that. But when I immigrated to the U.S. it wasn't for economic reasons and what really bothers me is that the U.S. treats immigrants from Guatemala like criminals. They think that people are here for handouts and all they want to do is get a job and make a living, like us when we first came here. The criminalization of foreign people really gets me and what is happening separating immigrant parents from their children is criminal. I'm amazed by what everyone is doing at NISGUA, by how many things you cover and how far it goes, and how broad the network is across the U.S. The internet is connecting us internationally across borders and we need that. People in the U.S. don't connect with the rest of the world too much and that's part of the problem.
Will you join our family and help NISGUA thrive by making a financial contribution today?
More about NISGUA and this campaign: Since 1981, NISGUA has linked communities in Guatemala and the U.S. in the global struggle for the defense of human rights and protection of the Earth. We provide international accompaniment and advocacy support to environmental and human rights defenders in Guatemala, while advocating at home to change harmful policies and denounce corporate impunity.
This month, your gift will have double the impact! Thanks to a small group of generous donors, all gifts made between May 15 - 31 will be matched, dollar-for-dollar, up to $35,000. That means that we have an historic opportunity to raise $70,000 to support our ongoing accompaniment of human rights and environmental defenders and struggles in Guatemala. Please help us reach our goal by making a tax-deductible gift today!
In our 38 years, we've found that our work is most powerful when informed by long-term partnerships with frontline communities. That's why we're calling on our network to help ensure we have the resources we need to sustain our work for the long haul. We count on the support of a grassroots network of dedicated supporters to sustain our participation in the global grassroots struggle for social justice. Will you join us?