“More countries have understood that women's equality is a prerequisite to development.”
- Kofi Annan
Buen dia, mis amigos! My colleague and dear friend Rese Tillman and I are a Peace Corps Volunteers working within the highlands and heartland of the Mayan Civilization in rural Guatemala. Our work and passion during our service has been to support the indigenous women improve their situations for themselves and their families. For when the women are empowered, they will raise themselves and their children out of poverty; the whole community benefits.
Especially in the little village of Concepción Chiquirichapa, the women are the key to development. Poverty, malnutrition and a economic destitution have forced forty percent of the population-- mainly working men-- to leave their families in search for work. Many never return. As such, these women are left with the enormous responsibility to keep their homes, families and community together.
But most of these women have never learned how to read or write. Many have never entered a classroom. Many only speak Mayan-Mam, which limits their ability to participate in social and economic development where only Spanish is spoken.
However, the women recognize the urgency in responding to their bleak situations. They have determined that the first step in improving their community is to gain economic independence and create a sustainable local economy. Specifically, their goal is to learn techniques to develop and sell their hand-woven goods-- a Mayan tradition that has survived the centuries.
The path for economic independence is tumultuous as there are many obstacles for these women. Perhaps the most difficult challenge is to rise above the machismo and cultural devaluation of women. Already, the women have been rejected support repeatedly by the local government. Furthermore, they must learn the many skills necessary to become educated and effective in competing in a global market.
As Peace Corp Volunteers, our work in Concepción Chiquirichapa has been to provide support to these women, who have become more like our sisters. It is clear that we need outside support-- both technical and financial. We can only do so much alone.
So in the name of the women of Concepción Chiquirichapa, we are asking for your support in helping these women move forward in their development.
Sponsor a woman (25.00 dollars will pay for 40 hours of technical training, transportation costs, and some of the materials necessary for training)
Help us with publicity (a website, documentary, magazine articles, etc.)
Donate supplies (sewing machine and materials for sewing)
The quality of our lives as women living in this amazing country-- the United States of America-- is the result of constant and courageous struggles by us and by uncountable women and men before us. The struggle continues on. Together, we can help these women help themselves.
Thank you for reading! Please contact me for more information! I am currently in Utah recovering from a herniated disc-- so please feel free to call me.
Peace Corps Volunteer; Municipal Development