Guatemala: Lucía Willis Paau

My life is hope.

— Lucía Willis Paau

She is a Guatemalan woman, the worthy heiress of two great ancestral cultures: the Maya Q'eqchi (direct descendents of the Mayans) and the Garífuna (descendents of former African slaves). During her life, Lucía Willis Paau (46) has played many roles: nurse's aide, researcher, social worker, mother, and defender of human rights. From her mother, she learned to fight. She has faced poverty, discrimination and marginalization, but she never forgets her origins. Lucía has an unbreakable fighting spirit. She weaves her life with threads of work and hope.

Lucía Willis Paau was born in 1959, in the city of Cobán, the capital of Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. After her father died, she worked like so many other child laborers, learning to weave the products that were later sold in the market. Even though her mother was illiterate, she was wise. She urged her daughter to study. Lucía was discriminated against because of the color of her skin and the way she dressed, which reflected her ethnic origins. She learned to pick coffee, beans and other crops. She remembers these times as some of the happiest times of her life. She has been a cook, a typist, and a nurse's aide. After many sacrifices and due to her persistence, she finished her studies. From 1980 to 1997, Lucía Willis Paau co-founded many indigenous women's organizations. During 1998 and 1999, she worked as a researcher in Mayas-Pocomchíes women's political participation projects and in mental health with the victims of the armed confrontation (1960-1996). In addition, she has been the negotiator in conflicts over agrarian issues and family problems over pension payments. In the last few years, her efforts have been directed towards the empowerment of women. As a woman of firm principles and with the determination to fight against all adversities, for her, peace is synonymous with “coexisting in harmony and freedom, without violence, without social, economic or political injustice.” She dreams about a world of opportunities for women. The injustices upset her, yet she smiles at life. A woman of faith: strict, strong, tenacious, and reflective. Currently she is battling against cancer. She wants to live to dream, to fight, and to contribute to the consolidation of peace.

Foundation of the Mayan Woman of the North (Funmmayan)