About Rafael

                                            Rafael Randal Juarez
                      Field Director, Computers for Guatemala
                          January 21, 1976 – November 17, 2009
It is with great sadness that we tell you of the passing of our in- country Field Director Rafael Randal Juarez. This photo (top) was taken in Connecticut last August when he came from Guatemala to speak at a reception for Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu.
Rafael had recently been given a ten year visa to come to the US, when even a six month visa is coveted. We thank the US Embassy Consular Office for recognizing Rafael’s dedication to improving Guatemala.
Rafael succumbed to alcoholism, the leading cause of death among Guatemalan men. He had bravely fought the disease for many years, regularly checking himself into rehab, which was where he died.
Rafael came from a very poor part of the country and had not been supported by his family. But he earned a degree in engineering while staying at a Presbyterian boarding school. He studied pharmacology so he could open his own pharmacy in Santa Eulalia. But his real calling was in politics and he was nearing the end of his university studies in political science, with a full scholarship.
His plan was to get a law degree and then enter politics. Rafael was scrupulously honest. The politicians of his town wanted him to run for office so they could split the spoils of office, but he refused. He already had more than enough votes to be elected Senator from the Department of Huehuetenango and had been urged to run, but he was waiting to finish law school. He had a promising career in politics.
He was hard working. He thought nothing of getting up a 3:00 AM to drive to a meeting on behalf of a computer project or our recreation park in Ixtahuacan. Rigoberta Menchu commented that “he wouldn’t let a fly get near Donaldo.” He was totally dedicated to Computers for Guatemala.
Rafael was a self starter, who on his own accord had met with the President of Guatemala about importing our containers, and he and our co-founder Eulalia Paiz had interviewed 50 families in Santa Eulalia to determine where our school supplies should be sent. He read the Bible every night, was fun loving, and he was not afraid to stand up to corruption at any level, whether it was in the church, the police, or a neighbor. When he spoke, people listened, even those who disagreed with him. As a true politician, he had a gift for reaching consensus and getting people to do what needed to be done.
On very short notice, Rafael organized a conference of schools that received out computers, from five towns, on the subject Forging  Brotherhood and Peace Among Towns, with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Rigoberta Menchu as the keynote speaker. Because of mountainous terrain, towns are isolated from each other, with 23 completely different Mayan languages, so there is tension among towns.
Our projects would not have succeeded without his support and gift for resolving conflict. Rafael urged people to do better with their lives, and make Guatemala a better country. After his death I heard from people who heard Rafael speak to them in dreams about how to lead a better life, even one person who did not know him. Of course, he did have faults. How he loved to eat!
Rafael’s greatest wish was to build a new high school for teachers in his home town of Santa Eulalia. This high school is now sharing space with another school, but the building is old and propped up with temporary supports, and they may be displaced at any time if the school they are sharing needs more space. Rafael had already obtained estimates for a new school of $28,000 for materials and $12,000 in labor which the community will provide. The community has already provided the land.
Upwards of 700 attended Rafael’s funeral in his home town of Santa Eulalia, complete with two brass bands. Friends, professors, politicians and students who had received our computers came from all over the country. At the funeral an eulogy was read on behalf of Computers for Guatemala, and at the end we promised to build a new school in Rafael’s name.
Please join us in building a school in Rafael’s memory, along side the many people in Guatemala who want to help continue his legacy. We lost a friend and colleague, and Guatemala lost a patriot, but the changes he hoped for will continue. Rafa, you are missed.