“Taking care of ourselves is knowing that everything we eat has a positive or negative impact in our health. Eating, just like any other thing we do, also carries a karma.”
Yeyson González was raised by his grandparents in San Miguel Ixtahuacán, San Marcos, Guatemala. He identifies as Mayan Mam. Mam is his mother tongue. When he was 12, he met his parents and had to move in with them, which was very difficult for him. He dropped out of school, and when he was 16, he emigrated to Mexico, where he stayed for five years. Later, he moved to the United States, where he settled in Alabama on March 5, 2019.
Like everyone else, Yeyson came here with many goals to accomplish. However, six months after arriving, he had a work-related accident that damaged his intestines and completely changed his lifestyle. “I had many dark days, many sad nights. I felt alone in this big country, but I never gave up because I knew that at some point in my life, things would change for the better,” Yeyson recalls with deep emotion.
Things did not work out for him in Alabama. He did not get support from the community or from health services. Nevertheless, a friend he made while on his journey through the desert supported him in San Francisco, when he arrived in early 2020. He did not know how to access health services in the city, but had to go to General Hospital for an emergency right at the start of the pandemic. Medical staff took good care of him, and connected him with the hospital’s social worker, who referred him to Instituto Familiar de la Raza, where he received case management services.
While recovering, Yeyson tested positive for coronavirus. He underwent three major surgeries to reconnect his intestine. His optimism led him to become a promotor for Nuestras Raíces Saludables. He developed the skills to approach his community and talk about the best ways to practice self-care through diet. It was during his recovery process that Yeyson was diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which, at age 24, surprised him.
But this news arrived at the right time as he had been learning about the consequences of sugar consumption and alternatives for following a healthier diet while he was training to become a promoter.
Today Yeyson’s health is stable. His recovery has been a complete success. He is very thankful for the support that Instituto Familiar de la Raza and the Indígena Health & Wellness program provide his community. “There is someone who cares about us in this city. This made it clear that there is a lot of love to share...love for our neighbors, for the race, and for the paisanos (folk), as we call them,” says Yeyson with hope.
What he learned then is something he practices every day. He still lives in San Francisco sharing and enjoying life with his girlfriend. He works in the food industry and helps his community. “When I am out on the street, I see my people trying to realize their dreams, the dream of a better future for our families and future generations. It is clear that everyone, absolutely everyone, is after a dream. When the dream is supported by people and organizations that fight so our communities will advance and will not be discriminated against because they have a different skin color or speak a different language, and they get help navigating the services and complexities of this big city, it makes it easier to accomplish that dream. My story is great, a little sad and scary at the same time, but with a happy ending. They managed to rebuild me, and now I have a healthy life—and for this, I lift my hands up and thank God, who has revealed Himself through all the people that have helped me,” expressed an emotional Yeyson.
Yeyson is fully aware about what he eats. He follows a very organized diet that includes a balanced breakfast (with fruits and protein), lunch (with servings of vegetables, meat, and rice) and a dinner that is free from animal products since that he works at a vegan restaurant. “Eating well does not require a lot of resources, but it does require a lot of willpower,” emphasizes Yeyson, sharing his favorite breakfast recipe, which he prepares in less than 10 minutes.
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