Though I love to take pictures, I didn’t take that many shots when I was in Guatemala with Lemonade International alongside the rest of the team of bloggers there. This was because we had a professional, dedicated photographer with us. I wrote about Scott Bennett and my thoughts on his work before the trip.
Each night as we writers sat down to blog, he’d show us the pictures he took for the day, and we’d fight over which ones we got to use in our posts. He took some amazing pictures, and shared many of the raw, untouched photos with us.
Well, now that he’s had time to dedicate more time and resources to focusing his creative eye on the pictures, he has now released his official photo documentary from the trip, as part of the site Visual Peacemakers.
This photo essay beautifully captures the essence of our time and the people there as well as (if not better) than the words of us writers. I encourage you to spend some time with these pictures and let their weight and beauty affect you. Then, would you consider joining with Lemonade International in their continuing work in the La Limonada community of Guatemala?
Here is Scott’s own artist’s statement accompanying the photo documentary:
La Limonada is a unique neighborhood located in Guatemala City, Guatemala. It is located in a ravine that is 1 mile long and 1/2 mile wide, and is home to over 60,000 people. It is considered one of the largest urban slum communities in Central America. While the neighborhood faces many challenges (such as poverty, lack of job opportunities, prevalent gang culture, sexual abuse and exploitation, social stigmatization, and rampant drug use) there is also much hope and beauty to be found in the area. In recent years, the NGO Lemonade International has come alongside the community of La Limonada in solidarity and has done much positive work by establishing two schools (or “academies”) to help offer youth an alternative to dealing drugs or getting involved in gangs. I recently had a chance to witness the work of Lemonade International first-hand when I participated in the organization’s very first bloggers’ trip as the official group photographer. While I did learn about very difficult situations and people who have suffered tremendously, I also observed a tide of change and a positive vibe that has caused a good impact on the community: a chance for a better education and future for youth in spite of difficulties, and I also witnessed a key meeting between Colonia (or Barrio) leaders that offers reconciliation and understanding in the neighborhood. The area is made up of 11 mini-zones that are all governed by local representatives. Due to gang activity and territorial issues, many of the residents will not cross over established “fronteras” or borders between rival neighborhoods. During the #LIBloggers trip, our group witnessed a meeting of the neighborhood representatives for the first time. We also visited the two academies and other vital programs that Lemonade International runs alongside local Guatemalan leaders. My photo story focuses on just a few of the positive things that La Limonada has to share: a unique community, improvements through education, and also a few shots from the community gathering of colonia leaders. I also include a few shots of the cemetery and city dump, where we listened to a talk about the history of Guatemala and some of the struggles that the country has faced. My goal is to show people with dignity while respecting the human condition. I definitely learned much more from the people living in La Limonada than I could ever teach them, and I was especially impressed by the dedication and love that the local teachers and leaders shared with the community. For more information on how you might get involved with this essential ministry and organization, please check out the following link: http://www.lemonadeinternational.org/
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