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My Planet

Until the corn grows back

Series, Jury Honorable Mention
Until the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows backUntil the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Until the corn grows back
Harvest gypsies.
In Huehuetenango, Northwestern Guatemala, the seasonal coffee harvest workers are housed in large wooden buildings called `galeras.´ They are paid far below the minimum wage and many of them must put their children to work in order to feed them.
Last ears of corn.
Dora and her daughter peel the last remaining ears of corn. Drought and shifting weather are making it difficult for many small-scale farmers to feed their families, fueling a human crisis.
Chronic malnutrition.
Guatemala has the sixth-highest malnutrition rate in the world with at least 47% of children suffering from chronic malnourishment. Malnutrition rates are even higher among the country’s 24 indigenous communities, rising to over 80% in some villages of the dry corridor.
Travel north.
"We grew up hungry, but the past four years have been very hard. We have to find a way to travel north, or else our children will suffer even more”, says Israel, a father of nine from a Ch’orti’ community in the highlands of Chiquimula.
Coffee.
A global price crash and the deadly rust fungus known locally as la rolla have wiped out about 80% of the region’s coffee in the past five years. This has led to less work, lower pay and more hunger among the indigenous people.
Sugar cane workers.
Five sugar cane workers stretching before the long journey ahead. Guatemala's economy rests on the long-suffering shoulders of the countless thousands of indigenous men, women and children who travel the distances that separate the small holdings of the highlands from the large plantations that hire them in the south each year.
Bathing.
An indigenous child swimming in the river.
Heading north.
Two families leaving their community in Huehuetenango in search of work. There is nothing left at home: no food, no money, no work.
Reading at home.
Three siblings from the Mayan Chorti ethnic group learning to read at home. The school is too far to walk to and the malnourished children are too weak to go everyday without food.
Our Lady of Guadalupe.
Most houses in the indigenous communities have an altar full of Christian icons.
Resting.
Daniel rests on a wooden bench before starting a new journey during the coffee harvest.
Climate migration.
Mario´s family walking with all their belongings in search of work. During this season, when Guatemala’s great crops are coming into harvest, its roads swarm with the migrant workers, that shifting group of nomadic, poverty-stricken harvesters driven by hunger and the threat of hunger, from harvest to harvest, up and down the country.

"Until the corn grows back" is a visual story about the roots of climate migration in Guatemala. In the indigenous communities of the highlands, the question is no longer if someone will leave, but when. Increasingly erratic climate patterns have produced year after year of failed harvests and dwindling work opportunities across the country, forcing thousands of people to try to escape skyrocketing levels of food insecurity and poverty. Over the last year, I worked with two Mayan families to create a record of daily life — their beliefs, hopes and struggles. I developed an intimate relationship with its people and I documented how malnutrition is not only widespread in Guatemala, which has the highest rates in Latin America, but has enormous consequences for individual and collective survival. Children suffering from malnutrition experience physical and cognitive constraints, which leads to perpetuating the cycle of poverty.

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