At Paul Lukez Architecture, We stand for Peace. We stand for Black Lives Matter.
Let us share a story with you. It is from another time and place, yet it is timely with today’s universal search for justice and peace throughout the world.
On June 3, 2008, in the hamlet of La Nava high in the mountains of Honduras, two children—Jennie Lopez, age 12, and Karlin Valdez, age 10—were murdered in their home. Their parents had stepped out, but for moments when four local criminals broke into the house and killed the children. Jennie was a star student at her middle school, showing great promise. Karlin was her proud protector, even in his dying moments.
While the perpetrators escaped, their identities were well known. Yet the police and authorities, ever so corrupt in Honduras, refused to act and imprison them. They were protected.
The local community of Guaimaca, a town of 15,000 in the valley below La Nava, were outraged by this injustice and rose up in spontaneous and sustained protest. Led by local religious leaders, the people demanded justice for Jennie and Karlin. The protests grew and spread to the local, regional capital, where at long last, a judge found the courage to bring the murderers to trial. Three of the four people responsible were brought to trial and sent to prison in what, but months before would have seemed impossible.
The family and members of the La Nava community wanted to commemorate Jennie and Karlin’s memory and their lives full of promise that they never got the chance to fulfill. Money was raised for a living memorial, one that doubles as a place for community members to visit, congregate, study, and pray.
With the assistance of more than 65 volunteers, the memorial was erected on the footprint of the house where Jennie, Karlin, and their parents lived. The new structure has three simple spaces built from local vernacular: plaster, wood, concrete, and metal roofing. The white walls serve as a canvas for light and shadow patterns dancing on the painted plaster surfaces. The wood screens let warm, diffuse light into space.
A narrow slot in the south-facing wall tracks the sun through the day by cutting a shaft of light across the central space until it aligns with two bronze markers embedded in the black concrete floor. They register Jennie and Karlin’s names and their dates of birth and death. The two children are reconnected by a slice of light every noon as the beam moves across the floor with the path of the sun.
Finally, three sets of doors made by local craftspeople swing open to embrace views of La Nava’s lush landscape, the valley below, and the distant mountain. When closed, the doors create three silhouettes of crosses, like those on Mount Calvary.
People come and visit the memorial from places near and far. They come in the spirit of love and peace.
We are inspired by the people of La Nava and Guaimaca, their resilience, and their ceaseless determination to find justice and peace. It is in this spirit that we share this story with you. We hope this story and its outcome will serve as a beacon of hope as our country engages in its own unique Proyecto Clamor de Paz.
Nelson Mandela said, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” We hope that, if you take anything from this story, it’s that peace and hope can win some of the biggest battles.
Now is the time to speak up for injustice, like the small town of Guaimaca standing up for innocent lives lost. We stand for Peace. We stand for Black Lives Matter.
If you want to help out the Black Lives Matter movement, here is a list of resources where you can sign petitions or donate to specific causes. Click here: https://eyeondesign.aiga.org/a-growing-black-lives-matter-resource-list-for-designers-and-humans/