This is the last in a series of posts on the experiences of photographer Paisley Dee, who traveled around Guatemala and shares her stories and photographs with us.
What is a home? I think about this question often. For me it is a place of comfort, it houses my family and all of my material possessions. It is a structure that not only serves a physical but emotional purpose as well. The structure and interior of a home has always been something that I find interest in because I feel that a home is a direct reflection of the way in which people live. For this woman who I visited in Santiago, Guatemala, her home consisted of one room with one bed. The room was filled with bags of things that had been accumulated over the years. Torn clothing, broken baskets, tied garbage bags. The walls were made of wood strung together, and the bed, which was made of sticks, had garbage bags on all sides to keep water and insects away. The roof was rusted. Pictures and mirrors were hung lopsided and placed around as means of decoration. It was dirty, and crowded. There was virtually no place to move around. The woman sat down on her bed, and she looked into the abyss of “things”.
I asked her who lived in her home, and she told me her husband and three children. I looked her in the eyes and hugged her. When I originally asked if I could photograph her and her home, she was fearful and wanted to know why. I explained that I wanted to spread awareness to people who are unable to understand a lifestyle unlike their own. Now, I thanked her for trusting me, and I told her that because of her, people will begin to open their eyes. As I began to walk away, she grabbed my arm and turned me around. She looked at me with a deep emotional stare and said, “God is with you. Thank you. May you fly with God. With God you will go.” I resisted the urge to do anything else than smile at her. I looked at her with dry eyes, turned around, and walked away with tears.
To read about Paisley’s other experiences and see more of her photos, visit her blog.