We often think we must be the only one in the world going through the daily struggles of living with a spinal cord injury…maybe even complain about the conditions and inequalities for people with disabilities in America. Step outside your shoes, your city, state and country…realize there is a global struggle.
Many times people in other countries don’t have the government supports we have here or access to medical care but they make it work and they fight for justice and inclusion. Below is the story of German Chub. It reminds us that we are all valuable members in our communities and that working together we take steps in the right direction.
(Courtesy of Rights Action and Ilyse Kramer) On September 27, 2009, German Chub – a Mayan campesino (landless farmer) from a nickel mining region in eastern Guatemala – was shot, point-blank, by a private security guard hired by the Guatemalan Nickel Company (CGN). The attack was part of mining related repression and violence that has continued, on and off, in this region, since late 2006.German was left for dead, and yet miraculously survived.
For close to 18 months, he was in and out of hospitals and rehabilitation centers, supported by a network of courageous and caring Guatemalans and North Americans working for an organization called Transitions Foundation of Guatemala. Today, German remains paralyzed from the waist down. The bullet that wounded him, remains lodged in his body, extremely close to his damaged spine. German lives in precarious health and economic conditions in El Estor, Guatemala with minimal assistance.
For the past two years, a United States and Canadian Advocacy organization called Rights Action has provided German with regular emergency funds to help with his on-going health and economic needs. Already very poor before his spinal cord injury, German’s parents had to sell their tiny home and plot of land to help pay for his on-going health needs.
Since January 2012, German has rented a small room in El Estor, where he lives with his wife and young son, and operates a small store. With support from donors, Rights Action raised the start-up funds for this store. Owning and operating a store has given German an important role in his community, one where he has regular contact with people, thereby avoiding the isolation that many people with disabilities experience. As a store owner, German is not just included, but also has a respected role, one where other community members can rely on him for the items the store sells.
His store provides some revenue for his family, however he still has expensive ongoing medical needs and his entire family is very poor. To help his family achieve greater economic stability and to help German experience greater mobility and comfort in his daily life, Rights Action is raising funds to build German a wheelchair accessible home with land his family can farm.
To learn more about German Chub visit Rights Action or watch a 5-minute trailer to a forthcoming documentary “Defensora”, which provides a glimpse into German’s living conditions and features footage where German speaks about his life.