The months before arriving at Mexico City had been exhausting and arduous for me, both as a journalist, caught in the crossfire of strife and control, and as a citizen of a country in which the social contract has shown profound gashes that could be signs of future expiration.

I’ve always wanted to be tough and impervious to many threats. For the most part, it’s been something I have been able to achieve. However, as I’ve grown older and seen the things that could happen to me or those around me, it’s been increasingly harder to put on a show of callousness in the face of danger.

This was what I was reflecting on during my trip to Mexico City to attend the HEFAT. I was happy because I believed this would be a chance to regain that callous armor. However, even though the training was intense and challenging, what I took from it was not that strength is akin to the supressing of all those emotions that permeate us during our work, but rather it comes from accepting and going through what we feel, honestly and bravely, and recognizing that we can’t help others through the work we do if we walk around broken to pieces or merely as shells of ourselves.

I learned this through the unbelievable kindness of the 21 people I shared these first four days with, and then the 8 amazing fellows with whom I’ve experienced Guatemala with for the past 9 days. Hearing the experiences of these talented women, seeing the courage with which they undertook the dares that were set before them and sharing such a heartwarming camaraderie has been soothing and stimulating.

Both of the pictures I chose for this entry were taken at the HEFAT location; first, the butterfly, which was very much alive when it decided to flutter down to where we were going through a First Aid scenario, then the bird, which although covered in colors was dead, towards the end of the trip, while I was in conversation with another fellow. Though these images don’t portray any of the activities we went through in the training, they represent a subjective change in my perspective due to what I lived during those days.

I thank the IWMF for the wonderful opportunity of having lived through this amazing reporting trip.

– Nincy Perdomo