At her 17th birthday party at her house in a remote small village outside of Panajachel, Guatemala in June 2012,
Cristobalina wished to learn more of painting and English this new year, as
well as to have another birthday party for her next birthday. However, she recalls, that she wished
to die when she woke up with her both hands and a part of right foot amputated
after an electrocution accident in November 2010. The accident happened when
she touched a high-voltage wire that was not properly covered in the house where
she was working as live-in housekeeper.
Since an accident, Cristobalina underwent several surgeries to release scar tissues that cause her legs contracted.
Recently, she spent a month again in the hospital in
Guatemala City for a skin graft surgery for ulcer on her legs. In the course of adjusting to new life, she taught herself to write and paint with her mouth.
Like many others in indigenous community in Guatemala, Cristobalina’s
family is a large one with 10 children and is on a very low income. As the family
struggle to secure daily necessities, Cristobalina started to work at age of 11.Worked and lived away from her village, she
had not lived with her family since then until she returned home after
accident. Panajachel based non-profit Mayan Families has been able to support the family for cost and necessities
for Cristobalina’s recovery, however her parents still struggle between keeping enough income and taking care of their daughter.
As high-voltage wire burns rank the third cause of admitted
patients in the burn unit at Roosevelt Hospital in Guatemala City, electrocution accident is not uncommon in Guatemala.However placing responsibilities has not been simple. Though
many claim that electronic companies are to be blamed, the report shows more
ample scope as many accident sites and constructions were built without
permissions. There are some cases that accident victims were succeed in taking
legal action, but most victims are left with severe lifelong scars both physically and emotionally, yet with no one to blame.
In Cristobaina’s case, an owner of the house disappeared
after the accident and Cristobalina and her family were never be able to locate him.