Parrequená means “water that moves slowly”
A small stream runs through the bottom of the valley where community is situated. During the dry season (when we visited), the water is hardly moving at all, basically stagnant. Families rely on this water throughout the year for drinking, cooking, bathing, washing dishes/clothes.
Valley is surrounded by mountains, where most of the families live. There is little vegetation other than pine trees. Mountainsides where families live are very steep, dry, and mostly barren during the months of the dry season. In the rainy season, families can grow some corn and beans, but not sufficient to meet their needs throughout the year.
Down in the valley, close to the river, some agriculture can be planted throughout the year but most families live high up on the mountain sides where it is impossible to carry enough water from the river to use it for agriculture.
Most families need to migrate seasonally to find paid work to sustain their families. Most often, men are forced migrate to large sugarcane plantations where they work long hours under slave-like conditions with minimal pay, leaving women and kids at home for months at a time to look after themselves, fetch water every day to meet their needs, etc. We heard some stories of the experience of working in the sugar cane fields.
Parrequená (also spelled Parrecaná), in the municipality of San Andrés Sajcabajá (same municipality as Sajchil, Xejuyup, Pachalum), in Quiché province. Many indigenous people and families were killed in the municipality of San Andres Sajcabajá during the war (1960-1996), especially in early 1980s when the Guatemalan army established a military garrison in the town and had a campaign of unprecedented repression against the population. Large white crosses at the top of a prominent mountain mark the memory of those killed.
Climate: Mostly dry, relatively little precipitation
Inhabitants: ~850 people, 146 families
Avg Water Collection Time: 1 hour round trip
Avg Number of Trips: 5
Cost: ~ $85,000 CAD
Funding by: RunForH2O Vancouver (Target)