Sowing seeds of growth with indigenous women in Guatemala
Organized by: Anne Marie Chomat
Please consider contributing to this exciting, grassroots project, to support indigenous Mam and K’iche women in Guatemala overcome the adversity that they face in their daily lives and help them dream and build a better future for themselves, their children, and their communities!
I first started working in these communities in 2009, and have had the good fortune to be able to participate in the growth of this exciting project since its inception. At its core are 14 amazing women who are leaders in their communities. Some of them are traditional midwives, others are community health workers, and yet others simply have an interest in helping other women.
The project activities are destined for women who face significant hardships in their lives, such as women with unwanted pregnancies, women who are single mothers, women who experience domestic violence, or women who live in abject poverty and struggle to secure basic needs for themselves and their families.
Activities include peer-led participatory women groups that are spaces of individual and collective healing/growth, using problem-solving therapy, socialization and horizontal exchange of experiences, strategies and knowledge. Their impact on women’s lives has been overwhelming. Ever increasingly engaged, the women now wish to include poverty-reduction activities, such as developing a sustainable, organic home agriculture project and forming a cooperative to produce high-quality, hand-made toys for young infants and children, inspired from their culture and way of life.
We are seeking donations today so that the women can continue helping other women, and expand their activities. Our previous sources of funding have come to an end, and while we work to secure new sources of funding, we are dependent on generous contributions from individuals such as you!
We hope you can participate in our project! Every dollar makes a difference. For example, $7 allows one leader to contribute one day of her life to project activities; $50 allows us to buy worms for initiating lombri-composting in the communities; $150 allows 25 women to attend an 80-hr training session in crochet/knitting with a local NGO; and $600 allows all 14 women leaders to engage in project-related activities for one month.
Context of the project: Guatemala has one of the highest measures of social inequality in Latin America and a long history of racism and discrimination against its large indigenous population that continues to live excluded from most political, economic and social programs. Indigenous women are doubly marginalized; decision-making and resources are typically concentrated in the hands of men, and women have low levels of schooling, autonomy and self-esteem, little say in reproductive health, and experience one of the highest levels of gender-based violence in the world. The legacy of brutality left by a 36-year civil war that mostly targeted indigenous areas has left profound psychosocial effects on surviving populations and contributed to erosion of social capital, division within families and communities, and an increase in mistrust, fear and violence. Guatemala has some of the worst maternal and child health statistics and the highest prevalence of chronic malnutrition in Latin America and amongst the ten worst worldwide – with rates disproportionately affecting the indigenous population. The high level of growth failure – testament that mothers are not able to protect their growing children from the stressors that they themselves may be experiencing – has profound adverse consequences for the physical, cognitive, emotional and economic development of affected children and their communities, perpetuating the vicious cycle of poverty and poor opportunity in these areas.