Monday, April 20, 2009

Wish list for our Women's Group

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.


Miriam Pope

Peace Corps Volunteer; Municipal Development

Guatemala

fiveyellowbellies@gmail.com

Home: 801.968.0272

Welcome!

Hi! My name is Miriam. I am a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned in rural Guatemala (2007-2009). My program is Municipal Development, which is a vague way of saying that I do just about anything under the giant umbrella of community development. So I have done a little bit of this and that, from pancake-making classes to diagnostic work in the schools. But of it all, my passion has been working with women.

I recently came to my attention that after bucketing my water inside my house (no running water), I have successfully herniated a disc in my lower back which is pinching my sciatic nerve. The Peace Corps flew me back home to Salt Lake where I will spend an indefinite amount of time recovering.

In the meantime, I want to take advantage of this valuable time home. The journey of this grand Peace Corps experience has been phenomenal. I hope to share it with others. And like the people of Guatemala have helped changed my life for the better, I want to dedicate myself to helping them.

The purpose of this blog will be to document the progress of the women's group that I have been working with in Concepcion Chiquirichapa. It is definitely going to be a work in progress. Please be patient with me as I one, figure out how to use it, and two, post the enormous quantity of information I have online.

Hi! My name is Miriam. I am a Peace Corps Volunteer assigned in rural Guatemala (2007-2009). My program is Municipal Development, which is a vague way of saying that I do just about anything under the giant umbrella of community development. So I have done a little bit of this and that, from pancake-making classes to diagnostic work in the schools. But of it all, my passion has been working with women.

I recently came to my attention that after bucketing my water inside my house (no running water), I have successfully herniated a disc in my lower back which is pinching my sciatic nerve. The Peace Corps flew me back home to Salt Lake where I will spend an indefinite amount of time recovering.

In the meantime, I want to take advantage of this valuable time home. The journey of this grand Peace Corps experience has been phenomenal. I hope to share it with others. And like the people of Guatemala have helped changed my life for the better, I want to dedicate myself to helping them.

The purpose of this blog will be to document the progress of the women's group that I have been working with in Concepcion Chiquirichapa. It is definitely going to be a work in progress. Please be patient with me as I one, figure out how to use it, and two, post the enormous quantity of information I have online.

Thank you for reading!

Saludos! (Cheers!)

Miriam