When I first arrived in the community of El Guayabo, I was worried about what the people might think of me, and I wondered about how I should act so as not to offend them. I wanted to show them that I was ready to learn from them and to do everything that I was able to connect with them and to become part of their process in some way.
They received us with a meeting. We sat down in a circle and began to introduce ourselves. When the meeting was over and we went to rest, I couldn’t stop questioning if what I said was good or if they at least understood me. I was afraid of seeming childish or immature.
Now I don’t know why I was afraid in that moment. El Guayabo and its people are the most wonderful people on earth, and this community is a home for me. Never before in my life have I felt as safe as in El Guayabo – it’s my home. And now I think about this community as my home and it’s impossible for me to think of it differently. Even though I know that I am not from there, I can’t stop thinking that there, in El Guayabo, is where my friends are, where my heart is, and where my heart will stay for now.
In this very special place, I have found a family that has become my second family: Erick, Chela, Sandro, Istabel, and María Fernando. They opened the doors of their home to me and welcomed me into their lives. They trusted in me and gave me the possibility of being Jhon, of being myself.
I have built a friendship with Erick, the community leader that goes beyond just a work relationship. He is my “little brother,” my friend and confidant. He and his family are the reason that I have faith; they gave meaning to my work and it’s because of them and the rest of families in El Guayabo that my job makes sense.
I don’t doubt that what I do has value, because when I arrive in the community, the people greet me and ask how I’m doing. This isn’t the norm for me in Bogotá, but in El Guayabo, God has filled all of the emptiness that was in my life. It is there that God has washed away my mistakes and has questioned me regarding the way I live. I am only filled with gratitude for El Guayabo for receiving me and putting up with me, and I hope from the bottom of my heart that what I do as my work will be enough to give back what they have given to me.
The community has faced all of the attacks of the local government, which tries to evict the small-scale farmers off their lands. Despite that, the people involved in the process never seem sad; on the contrary, they are very happy people who infect the earth with their happiness, and it is impossible not to feel that God inspires them and gives them hope through their laughter. I am not ready to leave…I still have much to learn from Erick and Chela; I still have to baptize my goddaughter Isabel, Erick’s daughter. I am still not ready to take back my heart that is buried in one of the farms in the most beautiful place on earth, El Guayabo.
“I ask God to be able to be present on the day the people of El Guayabo receive the titles to their lands and to celebrate their victory with them.”
By Jhon Henry Camargo Varela
Translated by: Amy Eanes