Tag Archives: Mennonite history

Encounter with A Mennonite in Belize

(c) Lebawit L. Girma(c) Lebawit L. Girma

“Do you mind if she takes your photo?”

I can almost see my reflection in Andrew’s sky-blue eyes, even though I’m a few steps across from him. He lets out a half smile, followed by an ever-so-slight shrug of the shoulder. He is twenty-seven years old but his voice is almost that of a teenager when he blurts out a nervous laugh and says:

“Na, I don’t care.”

I can feel Anastasio and I wanting to glance at each other but we don’t dare.

Did he just say… There’s no time to think, or wonder how a Mennonite agreed to have his photo taken. I raise my lens in one swoop movement, center it on his eyes and focus in the midst of my excitement. I frame, click, frame and click again. I can see Andrew’s shyness through the lens. He doesn’t resist, he’s excited to have his image permanently recorded.

After two clicks I lower my lens and thank him, still somewhat speechless that I just had this opportunity to capture one of Belize’s traditional Mennonites.

Anastasio is silent, and I can tell he’s also dying to comment and dish later.

Turns out, there’s a myth that traditional Mennonites don’t like their photos taken. That their faith and their spiritual practice doesn’t allow it. They don’t use modern technology, so it’s assumed that cameras are not welcome. The truth is, they just don’t like too many photographs taken. One or two are fine. And they don’t like people sneaking photos of them – just like anyone else.

The Mennonites emigrated to Belize in 1958 after a long journey that took them from Switzerland in the 18th Century to the–>> Continue reading »