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Sunday, 3 September 2006

World Vision is a Christian charity organisation that advertises its services on TV. Recently I saw an ad on the public multicultural broadcaster, SBS, and signed up to sponsor a child in Guatemala. It costs only $39 a month. Luis A is eight years old and doesn't go to school. His father is a peasant farmer and his mother looks after five children at home.

Today I employed World Vision's Web site to send a letter to Luis. They say that it can take up to three months to recieve a reply, so I'll just have to wait. I am very curious about him. My letter was quite amusing, I thought. I talked about emus and a bee that I found in my study. I also talked about a trip to the zoo when I was a boy. I hope he enjoys reading it (or having it read to him — he doesn't go to school, after all!).

World Vision's Guatemalan office receives and translates my letter and hand-delivers it to my sponsored child. My profile of Luis says that he speaks the Mam language. According to the Wikipedia, the Mam language "is spoken by the Mam people of the highlands of western Guatemala". So that tells me something about Luis that I didn't know before. He lives in Todos Santos Cuchumatan, a mountainous region in the Huehuetenango department.

So that I don't remain ignorant of Guatemala (a place about which I know virtually nothing) I looked up Guatemalan writers on Wikipedia. About 13 were listed. One of them, Augusto Monterroso, died in 2003. His complete works are available in a translation by Edith Grossman published in 1996 by the University of Texas Press. I telephoned Gleebooks — the independent bookseller here in Sydney that I use frequently — but they told me that it was out of print. So I ordered it on Amazon instead.

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