Global Ministries mission co-worker in Mexico, Elena Huegel, was the first place literature prize winner for Eastern Mennonite University’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding Alumni Storytelling Contest in 2018. Her piece is entitled, “Acompanamiento: The Privilege of Walking Alongside.” She also received second place in the visual arts category for a piece entitled, “Dignity.” Global Ministries extends congratulations to Elena for these well-deserved awards.
Eastern Mennonite University's Center for Justice and Peacebuilding shares more about Elena's two pieces:
"In the category of literature, the first-place “Acompañamiento: The Privilege of Walking Alongside,” Elena Huegel shares the story of “how a Catholic Mass organized by a Maryknoll sister, officiated by a Jesuit priest, at a Protestant school, for the mother of a Buddhist woman, has become a beacon of light in my personal practice of presence with others and has influenced the development of an international trauma healing and conflict transformation program.”
That program, created after the 2010 earthquake and tsunami in Chile, is called the “Retoños en las ruinas: esperanza en el trauma” or “Re-growth in the ruins: hope in trauma” program.
Acompañamiento is a Spanish term that describes the privilege of walking alongside others on the path of integral healing, Huegel explains in writings accompanying her entry.
The narrative tells of her initial resistance to taking trauma healing courses at her first Summer Peacebuilding Institute, and how she explored the principles of acompañamiento over the next five summers at SPI and later in the earthquake recovery process. Those principles became the foundation of the Retoños program, developed by the staff at the Shalom Center of the Pentecostal Church of Chile in cooperation with the Brookfield Institute of Massachusetts. Church and community leader-participants in six Latin American countries “are continuously redesigning and contextualizing the different modules to fit the needs of the people whom they, in turn, accompany,” she writes.
In 'Dignity,' which took second place in the visual arts category, Elena Huegel uses photography and a sample tapestry made with a back-strap loom to portray a “tapestry of dignity where identity, understanding, equality, freedom, justice and hope come together in culturally recognizable patterns that inform and sustain my trauma healing and conflict transformation work in Chiapas, Mexico,” she writes.
As a newcomer to the community, Huegel knew she had much to learn of Mayan life, and so she “sought out wise women to guide me,” she writes. “A grandmother, along with her daughters and granddaughter, have allowed me to enter into the sacred space of the back-strap loom shared by women since before the arrival of the Spaniards. Learning to weave has become a living metaphor that shapes my commitment to affirming the dignity of others, especially women and children, while nurturing my own.”