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Youth Voices: The change begins when you decide that things should be different

This year’s International Youth Day Celebrations in Quetzaltenango were driven by a passion for change.

“You junjun kyeye k’ij you jalin, kk’amome June tb’anel k’olb’eb’l toj tb’i qajwil, former toj tb’i June k’loj ku’xin ajk’ojla in chi aq’unan tib ‘aj tx’ixpu’b’l, jun chjonte kye xjal b’inchante xi lu ku aq’untl tun txokb’il saj kq’ob qeye, June nim ex tzalajtzb’il weye tun amb’il in Tzaj q’on weye tex tu’n nchik’b’ane jte nyole keye k’ij you jalin ja qxnik’chana nku’ tq’ij ku’xin.

For all present, receive warm greetings on behalf of the Supreme Being (Creator and Trainer), and on behalf of the group of Youth Cajolence for Change, equally profound gratitude to entities engaged in this activity for the invitation extended to us, it gives me great joy to be here and be able to share in this opportunity some words.


Saqb’ech Pérez López addresses the audience at International Youth Day, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 2016.

In my short life I have met a lot of people with comments such as “you can’t because you are a woman” “you can’t because you’re Indigenous,” “you can’t because you were not born for that,” or comments that suggest that as indigenous we are much lower and that we don’t have the capabilities to be leaders or believe that our participation is important because we think, speak, and dress differently.

So, since my friends asked me to participate as a candidate for Nam tmyal you k’ojla’ (Daughter of the people of Cajolá) I made a commitment to myself, which was (and still is) to support the reduction of racism in our community; I try to do this through my participation in all events which I attend; every message shared is in relation to the importance that we, indigenous peoples in Guatemalan society, have messages about the importance of creating a culture of peace, and the need to eradicate racism in the country.

Our participation as women and as indigenous is very important, especially to show that we are not cheap labor as indigenous, but we also have capabilities to develop ourselves in society as leaders without our losing our identity or becoming homogenized.”

Saqb’ech Pérez López, Maya Mam young woman from Cajolá, Quetzaltenango.
This speech was made during her participation in the youth forum on Saturday, August 13th, in the hall of the House of Culture in Quetzaltenango during the celebration of International Youth Day, 2016.

This young woman who presented during International Youth Day demonstrated beautiful charisma as she addressed the young audience of mostly local youth between the ages of 14 and 30.  During the day, the activities in celebration of International Youth Day were attended by delegates from Olintepeque, Cantel, Cajolá, La Esperanza, San Martin Sacatepéquez municipalities.

In an atmosphere of harmony, delegates of the municipalities had the opportunity to exchange experiences to build communities of peace.


International Youth Day panelists included SERES Ambassadors, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala, 2016.

During the forum two panelists presented in addition to Miss Lopez; Nineth Gonzalez, a leader in the municipality of Olintepeque and Juan Gonzalez, the Mayor of youth in Cantel. Juan completed a high school degree in education and is currently a SERES Ambassador. He discussed the issue of education and the importance of having access to technology to strengthen education in rural communities.

It is was wonderful for me to witness participants who are integrating community organizations are promoting and generating actions to strengthen the leadership and participation of youth, together facing numerous challenges in our society that include the indifference of local authorities, underfunding initiatives, and discrimination.

Now is the time to look to the young population to create public policies and the conditions for all community members to develop healthily and grow holistically.

By Esteban Sacalxot
SERES Facilitator and President of the Permanent Council for the Defense of Life and Territory of Cantel, Quetzaltenango


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