Nutrition lessons continue in Chumanzana and Santa Clara la Laguna. We spoke of the importance of good nutrition in order to provide the necessary nutrients to the body in one workshop. Lessons on making herbal extracts to add vitamins to the family diet were well received. The herbs used were mulberry and laural leaves, and "bledo" which the women have in their gardens. In another workshop, we made different types of "atol", a drink made from corn. The women put the herbal extracts in the atol to use as a vitamin drink. One of the women's babies is malnurished and she planned to use this to help him improve.
We are awaiting word from a grant proposal that we have submitted for funding to build raised bed garden frames in the women's patios. They all have gardens, but they are limited in what they can grow. With the raised bed gardens some of the problems they face will be solved. We will know by May 1st if funding will be available.
Thank you for your support. We need more funding for this project to keep it going. The staff is the heart of the program and staff time has been cutback because of lack of funds. We are depending on the donations coming in from all of you, but we need to increase our supporters. Please get the word out about our program that is providing this really vital information to this group of 20 women. It will affect the health of the next generation!
In April, the Kateri Fund decided to use the donations and pledges we have already received to start the work experience program on a limited basis. Mishel Cutzal, a recent graduate of the Kateri Scholarship Program, was hired for three months to work as an assistent in the Kateri Office in Chimaltenango, Guatemala. Mishel graduated with her certificate as a bookkeeper. She is doing general office work helping all of the staff with filing, running errands which are time consuming in Guatemala, keeping supplies in stock, answering the phone, as well as working with the Kateri bookkeeper. The most valuable part of this experience for Mishel is getting used to a work routine- arriving on time, completing the tasks assigned, getting along with everyone in the office and adjusting to different work styles, as well as receiving her first salary. For the Kateri staff, it frees them of some of the routine tasks, so they have more time to devote to their main duties.
Carmela Paz Bal, the staff coordinator, reports that Mishel has been accomplishing a great deal in the time she has been with them. Her presence is helping the staff with many projects, such as getting the files up to date, accomplished. They all find her a pleasure to work with. We would like to give her at least a six month work experience, so she will be able to put that on her curriculum vitae, but at present we only have funding for three months. If you can make an extra donation or can pass this information on to friends and family, a longer work experience could become a reality.
At the March Kateri Tekakwitha Fund scholarship meeting, Juana Cun, 2009 graduate and Candelaria Sut, 2010 graduate shared their work experience.
Juana advised the students to have a goal and be persistent-not give up until they reach it. It is necessary to organize your time and put other things aside in order to succeed. As a wife and mother, she has many responsibilities, but she finds a way to fulfill her obligations to both, even though she often must stay up late to accomplish all her work. She has found it worth the effort. One thing that has motiviated her is that she discovered that with more academic training she was able to command a higher salary. She might do the same work without the degree, but she was paid less. She felt they would not regret the time they devoted to their studies.
Candelaria told them that the most important thing was not to be afraid of new things or undervalue yourself. She had found that everything is possible, but it oftens takes sacrifice and hard work. Her greatest day was when she received her first salary. She never had that experience. Before she finished her studies, she had worked as a domestic. In that situation, she never was free. She received a small salary, but was mainly paid with room and board. It is not the same as having your own salary and making your own decisions about how to use it.
The students has many opinions about the presentations. Sandra Lopez, Blanca Surec, Reina Cuxil, Aura Curruchiche, and Paula Cali said that the two former Kateri scholars were examples that helped them understand that you can accomplish all that you propose for yourself. Adela Surec took away the idea that to get started you need to take whatever job is offered even if it is not what you have studied and with some work experience you can find a job in your career. Silvia saw that these two women had a positive outlook and were not afraid of new things. They had struggled to accomplish what they wanted. Glenda Tum and Clara Ecomac received advise on how to keep a job- to be punctual, responsible, and disciplined. Marilena Patzan was encouraged to move forward in her studies and to organize and use her time well. All of the students felt that the life lessons of Juana and Candelaria were helpful for them as they struggled with their studies and obstacles to meeting their goals.