This paper examines the documentary Reparando by Scott Owen Moore and Voices Beyond the Wall by Brad Coley. The paper examines the detrimental effect of historical events, such as a Civil War can have on the countries of Guatemala and Honduras. I analyze how these documentaries showcase many of the social issues faced in these countries come from a Civil War and a history of colonization. It is important to know the negative effects that international countries have on Latin American countries. I argue that poetry, religion, and community building could all be outlets to redefine an environment and create a positive change. The people in these documentaries were able to use these outlets in order to heal and create a better environment. It highlights the importance of activism and resistance against the issues presented. I believe that different environments and certain life circumstances can be a problem because they create obstacles for people and deprive them of many resources in order to reach their full potential; however, with the help of community building and redefining their situation, they can achieve happiness.
The life circumstances and social class people are born into, don’t pave the path for their future. People's lives contain their own obstacles and blessings. Some individuals live in cleaner and better environments while others live in poverty and very poor conditions. However, these circumstances can’t determine the fate of people. Communities of people have the power of redefining their environments and creating their own future. The documentaries Reparando by Scott Owen Moore and Voices Beyond the Wall by Brad Coley, both show how a place can be turned into a community that offers people hope, love, and happiness. Through community building and other means of channels, the characters in these documentaries were able to reach redemption and forgiveness. Different environments and certain life circumstances can be a problem because they create obstacles for people and deprive them of many resources in order to reach their full potential; however, with the help of community building and redefining their situation, they can achieve happiness.
The documentary Reparando, directed by Scott Owen Moore, tells the story of a town called La Limonada, which is located in Guatemala. Moore demonstrates how the aftermath of the thirty-six-year civil war in Guatemala resulted in a lot of violence, poverty, and the emergence of gangs. Additionally, children left with no families due to the civil war had no other choice but to join gangs, which served the role of a family. The documentary focuses on La Limonada, a small town that is a garbage dump. People living there look through trash to find anything worth of value to try to survive. Despite all of this, the documentary sheds a light of hope by following the lives of two characters. It follows the life of Shorty, who was a former gang member who is now a priest. He has found redemption through his belief in God and now tries to help others in his situation. Another character Tita, a woman who started a school in La Limonada, tries to create a better environment for future generations. Their actions demonstrate how individuals can form communities that can redefine their environment and spark hope for the future.
The documentary Voices Beyond the Wall: Twelve Love Poems from the Murder Capital of the World directed by Brad Coley tells the story of a group of girls from Honduras who all live together in an orphanage only for girls. They go to an orphanage that is provided by a nonprofit organization. Spencer Reece, who is a poet and priest, teaches the girls poetry as a way for them to express their emotions. Through poetry, the girls are able to share their stories and the pain they have experienced due to being abandoned by their parents. These girls form a family within each other and Spencer. This documentary demonstrates how these girls were able to find a family, and to reach forgiveness.
The documentary Reparando shows how redemption can be achieved and how communities have the power to redefine their life and environment. Through Shorthy’s experience of leaving a gang and becoming a priest, it became evident that he was able to use religion as a way to heal and to change his lifestyle. He started helping other gang members who are in his past situation. This shows that people achieve redemption and use community building as a way to help others. Tita, who built a school in La Limonada, proved that environments could be changed into what people want them to be. Together Shorthy and Tita were going to break this cycle of joining gangs. They transformed La Limonada from being a garbage dump to being a place of hope and resistance.
"Different environments and certain life circumstances can be a problem because they create obstacles for people and deprive them of many resources in order to reach their full potential; however, with the help of community building and redefining their situation, they can achieve happiness"
The documentary Voices Beyond the Wall shows the importance of forgiveness and how crucial it is in the process of self-healing. The director shows how poetry was used as a creative way to heal the wounds of the girls in the orphanage. Poetry was a form of therapy for them and it allowed them to be able to eventually reach forgiveness. Religion also played a role in allowing them to let go of any resentment they might feel towards their parents. The close relationship between Spencer and the girls provided them with a family. The documentary showcased how a family can be many things; it doesn’t necessarily have to be blood-related.
The history of countries can determine both the present and future situations of these environments. To know the present, we need to know the past. It is impossible to understand the present situation of Guatemala before first looking at it’s history. Due to this, in Reparando, the narrator states in the beginning that, “I learned that the majority of Guatemala’s current social issues were caused by a 36-year civil war that ended in 1996. Fathers were killed. Families were destroyed.” The civil war has negatively impacted the population and the environment of Guatemala. The country’s history is responsible for the severe poverty, violence, and injustice people living in Guatemala face today. Including this information allows the viewer to understand the situation of Guatemala instead of blaming people for the situation they are in. The documentary Voices Beyond the Wall starts by a poem about Spain colonizing Honduras. Including this poem, demonstrates how the history of Honduras also paved the current situation it is in today. It’s history of colonization has caused many problems, such as poverty, corruption, injustice, and violence.
Environments could be used as a form of redefining and changing a situation. An environment is not what it is said to be, but rather it is what you make it out to be. According to Reparando, the narrator says, “As a symbolic testimony to the life it brings to the community. Tita’s schools are transforming La Limonada.” La Limonada is transforming from a trash dump into a place of hope and change. This school is a form of resistance to the repeated cycle of joining gangs and going down the wrong path. It demonstrates how a space can be used to redefine an environment full of poverty, violence and turn into a place that can offer change. Tita’s schools have staff and teachers who are members of La Limonada. This community building shows how people coming together can contribute to changing people’s situation and battling struggles they face. Future generations of La Limonada will have the opportunity to pave their own path and change the situation of La Limonada. Reparado starts by a little boy walking in piles of trash and looking for something of value. He stumbles upon a doll's hand and reaches to pick it up. This imagery symbolizes how even though La Limonada is a garbage dump, it isn’t just that. It is also a place full of hope and has the chance of redefining itself.
Religion can be used to reach redemption and to have hope for the future. Faith could be that one glimmer of hope that can change people’s life around. In Reparando, Tita used to live in La Limonada; however, she left illegally to the United States when her husband had to escape Guatemala due to problems. She faced abuse at the hands of her husband. and she turned to God for help. Tita said, “Something happened! Something changed in me! I think that God started calling my heart, and my life. For me, that was the day of my salvation. From that day on I finally had courage.” Through her belief in God, she was able to deal with her struggles and reach redemption. Her faith was what gave her the power to go back to Guatemala and provide support for the people there.. Shorthy used to be a gang member due to being abandoned by her mother; however, later he turned to God for redemption. If he didn’t turn to God, he wouldn’t have been able to reach redemption and help his community. Untimely, religion allowed both Tita and Shorthy to use their faith in order to bring their communities together and to offer them support. Through their efforts, they were able to touch the hearts of people in La Limonada and to help them on their path of redemption. They were able to create a strong community, who will redefine the future of La Limonada.
An environment can provide people with the chance to change their life situation and find support. In Voices Beyond the Wall, the Little Rosas orphanage for girls serves as a space of community and support. They are able to feel loved and wanted while being there. The Little Rosas orphanage will allow these girls to get the support they need to have a better future and to not let their past determine their future. The loving staff and this sense of sisterhood can allow these girls to have a family. In Voices Beyond the Wall one of the girls says, “You also are my family, Spencer.” This shows that Spencer, who thought them poetry, cared about these girls and loved them. Showing that the relationship between Spencer and the girls, was like having a family. Meaning, families can be found and made in different forms and places. These girls didn’t give up on each other and themselves, instead they found support, family, and love within Little Rosas.
"This community building shows how people coming together can contribute to changing people’s situation and battling struggles they face."
Poetry can be used as a form of self-expression and healing. The documentary Voices Beyond the Wall shows how poetry allows these girls to have a creative way to express their emotions and for them to cope with it. According to Voices Beyond the Wall, one of the girls said how poetry allows her to have freedom. Poetry allows them to no longer hide their feelings and to feel free to share their stories. These girls have been abandoned by their parents, which makes them carry a lot of pain within them. Due to the topic being so emotional, most of them would not want to share their emotions or their feelings. However, the anonymous aspect of poetry allows them to share their emotions and stories without the fear of judgment. Ultimately, poetry can serve as a form of therapy and can help them in their healing process. For instance, one of the girls said, “I let it all out. Everything inside of me. I felt good. I didn’t have to have that inside of me anymore.” Poetry allowed these girls to not let their emotions consume them. If these girls kept their emotions buried up inside then they wouldn’t have been able to heal instead they would have turned to anger. Their anger would cause them to be held back and haunted by their past. In Voices Beyond the Wall, one of the girls says, “I forgive her because I know she’s a human being.” Through poetry, these girls were finally able to reach forgiveness. These girls were able to shift from hatred and anger to love and forgiveness.
Both of these documentaries show that environments can be redefined. They can be turned into communities that can be a form of love, support, and hope. The history of Guatemala and Honduras both led to problems, such as poverty, violence, and injustice. These countries could be seen as a place full of negative circumstances, which are destined to only bring misfortune for the people living there. However, both documentaries show that environments could change for the better. For instance, in Reparando the creation of Tita’s schools in La Limonada caused the environment of La Limonada to repair itself and to change for the better.
In both of these documentaries people faced many struggles; however, they were able to use methods in order to overcome them. One such method in both was religion and the use of community building. Religion was used in both documentaries as a way to have hope for the future. It was the force people used in order to achieve redemption and forgiveness. Religion also allowed people to be on the right path instead of being tempted to go down the wrong one. Additionally, in both documentaries the characters used their faith to help others improve themselves and to form loving communities who support one another.
Even though all of the characters in both documentaries faced extreme difficulties, they didn’t allow this to take over their life. They strived for change and used the opposite ideas as a form of remedy. They chose to not allow the situations they were born into to dictate their life. People turned to creating places where support and love would be offered. They also used religion and poetry as a way to find redemption and forgiveness. People didn’t accept the idea that they were going to live in poverty. On the contrary, they formed strong communities that helped each other get through the struggles they faced. They found hope in the midst of disaster.
Coley, Brad, director. Voices Beyond the Wall. Stories Matter Media, 2017.
Owen Moore, Scott, director. Reparando. Athentikos, 2010.
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