A letter from Karla Koll in Guatemala
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I am writing to you today with a heavy heart from Quetzaltenango.
Early Sunday morning, Francis Barreno, Tamara’s boyfriend, died of injuries suffered in a motorcycle accident on Friday night. I managed to get Tamara on a flight from Portland to Guatemala on Sunday night. She was able to be at the funeral on Tuesday morning. The Peacemaking Program allowed me to cut my time in the United States short. I returned yesterday to Guatemala. CEDEPCA sent Raul, our driver, and the CEDEPCA bus to take to me to Coatepeque, where Francis’ family lives. I arrived after the burial, but I was able to spend time with the family. Tamara decided she wanted to come home to Quetzaltenango for the night, so we are all here now.
Luis Francis Barreno Orozco was 23 years old. He was finishing a degree in electrical engineering in the Mesoamerican University in Quetzaltenango. He was a quiet, hardworking young man who loved rock music. He and Tamara had been dating for over a year. Carlos Barreno, Francis’ father, is the mayor of Coatepeque. His mother, Johana Orozco, works in the pharmacy of the regional hospital. Thousands and thousands of people turned out for the wake, which lasted two nights and a day. Francis had an older sister, Gaby, and an older brother, Fito. I ask your prayers for Tamara and the Barreno Orozco family. We’ll take the next few days one at a time.
Meanwhile the rains continue here in Central America. Last week the tropical depression designated 12E dumped heavy rains in Guatemala. The rains that are still falling today don’t seem to be part of an organized storm, but they are bringing damage nevertheless. The death toll is at least 28 in Guatemala and more than 60 in all of Central America. Thousands are homeless. Many roads have been damaged by landslides. The Disaster Ministry of CEDEPCA is working on a response. Officials are asking people to avoid all unnecessary travel for the time being.
Juana Herlinda Yac Salanic, whom I accompanied as she traveled in the United States as an International Peacemaker during the last month, will be returning to Guatemala tonight. I hope the rain won’t cause her any problems in getting back.
Thank you for your prayers and for being part of this journey.