Corn Cannot Grow Alone

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Community. A simple word. One that we often take for granted. Some visitors to Tejutla, San Marcos, my birth community, are amused by the sense of self-importance in this small mountain town. They smile at the audacity of our pageants, processions, and nocturnal festivals. I am often humbled by the thought of generations spanning thousands of years who lived in those hills creating unique traditions that form my  identity. I’ve had the opportunity to live in different cultures as well as experience rapid and profound changes in my own. Through this lens, I'm able to appreciate the importance of community and the deep impact that it has in supporting our spiritual, emotional and physical health.

Over the last year, we have supported midwifery training for rural women and provided many valuable workshops concerning diagnostics techniques and maternal care. What I consider being of greatest value was a lesson learned from older participants concerning the importance of community. They shared the simple lesson that corn cannot grow alone.

A significant issue in women's health is postpartum depression. In our workshops, participants shared how there used to be a great deal of mutual support for expecting mothers. Family members, as well as neighbors, were always visiting to help with chores, provide a meal and share any burdens. After the birth, mothers were bathed in attention and support as the community welcomed newborns through ritual and informal exchanges.

Many visitors to our communities believe that we are kinder or more loving than other people. I can assure you that we have our issues. I think what they are perceiving is the impact of community. Academics say that we Indigenous people of the Americas value relationships above all else. Many of our cultures begin prayers with the invocation "to all our relations". What I see in this is the importance our ancestor's placed in the community. A teaching of sacred importance about how to best achieve the good life. A healthy, safe and sustainable life with meaning and dignity.

Many development experts concern themselves with water, capacity building or access to health services. What most of them miss is the importance of a community. When the community is lost, you begin to see all the indicators that these patches address.

When I return home, I feel nostalgia for something lost. A sense of belonging to a group where everyone knows my name. A sense of security that no matter what bad luck encounters me or poor decision I make, I've got people who will make sure that I come out of it alright.

I am excited to be part of an organization that prioritizes community building as its primary mission. I invite you to join our community of activist, scholars, homemakers and reverends in achieving the good life.

Guadalupe Ramirez. Highland Support Project 2015 Annual Report.