We would like to express our most sincere thanks to each and every one of our 104 supporters over the past year. Without all your contributions, words of encouragement, benefit parties, and donations as well as your visits to our School of Community Organizers, this work would not have been possible.
The School of Community Organizers, as you know, is part of a small organization working to break structural inequalities. Our purpose is to build a just society, where the Mayan people will no longer have to face the politics of exclusion. In turn, the true brilliance of Mayan culture and practices in communities across Guatemala can become the basis for integral development.
We especially would like to thank our recent Social Work Intern from the University of Connecticut Master’s Program, Shannon Bali; the educational delegations from the University of Loyola and the University of Minnesota; conference participants from the Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN); and the Chicago-Guatemala Partnership. We are sending out a belated thank you to all the amazing organizers who held benefit parties for us, including Colectiv@ Maiz y Viento, especially Wendy Mironov, Daisy Ventura, and Ervin Lopez from Chicago (October 2012), and Murphy Woodhouse/Tucson Community (January 2013). Your donation has gone to meaningful work!
Once again we want to thank you for your time and effort, and we hope you continue to support similar projects that are close to your hearts.
Please enjoy our recent photos from the School of Community Organizers.
We hope to hear from you and to welcome you on a future trip to Guatemala.
Un fuerte abrazo
The DESGUA team
This year at DESGUA our work in The School of Community Organizers is well underway with projects coming to completion and many others on the horizon.
2013 came to a strong start with vigorous work on our nine-year strategic plan. Thanks to a generous grant from Global Fund for Children, DESGUA has been able to hire an external consultant to guide us in the process of organizational development. As the consultancy progresses we will be posting updates on our new website.
In February, DESGUA celebrated the Mayan New Year with Mayan ceremonies and meditations, reflecting on the past year and the opportunities to strengthen our work in the communities the year ahead. In March, we had the pleasure of hosting the annual delegation of students from the Earlham College Border Studies Program. Students from this university program came on a 9-day coordinated trip in order to learn about the structural causes of migration and local economic initiatives from DESGUA and the DESGUA community network. This particular group of students left us incredibly inspired, as their commitment to working together with community members was evident in their participation in the various conferences, community visits and workshops. The visit to the eco-tourism project of La Florida was an important educational exchange for both the students and the community members. The students learned about the struggle of this campesino community to win the rights to their land, and were able to participate in the community’s harvest season. As one student wrote in their evaluation: ¨Great opportunity. The people in La Florida were welcoming and great teachers. Plus, food = A+.¨ The DESGUA team looks forward to working with La Florida this year providing continuous support through classes and visits to their eco-tourism project.
The young women from the towns of San Martín Sacatepéquez, Cajolá and San Andrés Xecul will be celebrating their graduation this month from the Technology and Participation course where they will present photo essays promoting the cultural wealth and knowledge of their communities. We look forward to sharing their work next month.
Finally, are very excited to share that we have launched the new DESGUA website. To learn more about our program areas and networks please go to www.desgua.org.
Thank you so much for supporting DESGUA’s work. Please take a moment to make a donation to help continue this important work.
With Love and Solidarity
- Traducción al español abajo --
It’s hard to believe that December is here and that 2012 is almost over. This year at DESGUA we have carried out a lot of new and inspiring work which we hope to continue in 2013. We want to take this time to share a few photos that reflect some of our joyous work in 2012 and to remind you that you can make a tax-deductible donation to help continue our work in the upcoming year.
The photos are from our third year of classes of Technology and Participation. This section of the School of Community Organizers is specifically designed for young Mayan women from rural areas. This semester we are at full capacity with 21 participants and we have many additional young women on the waiting list. During the five-month class, the young women learn significant community organizing and computer skills free-of-charge. Most of the young women have never touched a keyboard before they enter our School. By the time the class ends they have a working e-mail account and have learned important research functions of the internet. For DESGUA, teaching computer skills goes hand-in-hand with community organizing. Therefore the young women also participate in a “social promoters” class where they learn important communicative skills and develop their capacity to teach others. We will be sharing their work with you in April as the semester comes to an end.
DESGUA continues to build networks and works to create economic and educational opportunities for returned immigrants and local communities in Guatemala. This work would not be possible without your support. Please take a moment to make a donation in support of DESGUA’s on-going work through our Globalgiving page.
To see more photos of DESGUA’s work please click on the links below.
With love and in Solidarity
Es difícil creer que diciembre ya está aquí y que el año 2012 también está por terminar. Este año en DESGUA hemos visto muchas cosas nuevas e inspiradoras que nos gustaría que continuaran en el 2013. Tomamos este momento para compartir unas fotos, las cuales reflejan nuestra alegría en el 2012 y también para recordarles que pueden hacer una donación y ayudarnos a continuar nuestro trabajo en el próximo año.
Las fotos son del tercer año de clases de Tecnología y Participación. Esta sección de la Escuela de Organizadores Comunitarios esta diseñada para mujeres jóvenes Mayas del área rural. Este semestre estamos a nuestra capacidad límite con 21 participantes con muchas mujeres en la lista de espera. En las clases gratuitas que duran cinco meses las mujeres aprenden sobre la organización comunitaria y la computación. Cuando entran a nuestra Escuela la mayoría de las mujeres se están acercando a un teclado por primera vez en sus vidas. Al terminar el semestre ellas cuentan con un correo electrónico propio y han aprendido a hacer investigación por internet. Para DESGUA enseñar computación va mano a mano con enseñar organización comunitaria. Por consiguiente, las mujeres también participan en una clase de “promotores sociales” y desarrollan su capacidad de comunicar se y de enseñar a los demás. Estaremos compartiendo sus trabajos en abril al terminar la clase.
DESGUA continúa estableciendo redes y trabaja creando oportunidades económicas y educativas para migrantes retornados y comunidades locales en Guatemala. Este trabajo no seria posible sin su apoyo. Por favor tome un momento para hacer una donación en apoyo hacia el trabajo de DESGUA a través de nuestra página web de GlobalGiving.
Para ver más fotos del trabajo de DESGUA haga clic en el link a continuación.
Con amor y en solidaridad
El equipo DESGUA
Central to DESGUA's mission is working with communities affected by migration in order to build networks of solidarity for sustainable economic and educational opportunities in Guatemala. The last several months have been filled with cultural and educational initiatives and events at the School of Community Organizers. We would like to thank you for your generous support that makes this work possible.
Kicking off July with a new collaboration, DESGUA welcomed No More Deaths volunteer Hannah Hafter to hold a conference about the harsh realities of the US-Mexico Border in Nogales, Arizona; the human rights abuses of US immigration authorities; and how to locate disappeared immigrants in detention centers and in the Sonoran desert. Participants at the conference included various nonprofit, community and governmental organizations that work with community members and families trying to locate a disappeared loved one. This work is vital to bring necessary tools to the communities where DESGUA works and to raise awareness on a national level about the injustices undocumented immigrants face.
The Cultural Empowerment and Mayan Worldview section of the School of Community Organizers continues to make important impacts as well. In August, DESGUA had the opportunity to participate in the 8th Annual International Festival of Education for Life. This festival, organized by Colectivo Noj, is geared towards educators and leaders interested in professional growth and tools for a creating a transformative society. For a second consecutive year our intercultural coordinator led a week-long workshop entitled: “Celebrating a new Mayan cycle: Information and preparation for the change in the Mayan cycle on December 2012 from the perspective of the Maya K´iche people.” Workshop participants included a multidisciplinary group of international professionals interested in finding ways to incorporate spirituality in their work as lawyers, psychologists and researchers. It was an opportunity to connect and collaborate with people from all over Latin America and Europe who are using art and culture to create a more just and sustainable world.
Building such international relationships of solidarity is crucial to DESGUA's work. Early this summer we launched our research internship program “Other Knowledge Historical Memory Project” in order to provide another way for the international community to participate. The academic materials and donations contributed by the first three participants during their stay have been vital to sustaining the work of DESGUA and our educational activities at the School of Community Organizers.
We would like to send a special thanks to Murphy Woodhouse, Jenn Summers and Oto Alves and have included highlights of their contributions.
Murphy Woodhouse, an Arizona University Master´s student, conducted interviews with Guatemalan immigrants focusing on the challenges they face upon returning to Guatemala and the resources that exist to help them in their reintegration process. He was able to ascertain critical information about the reintegration process that will inform the work of organizations on the border that protect the rights of people who migrate. Murphy´s Master thesis work also provides theoretical credibility to DESGUA's work of creating economic and educational opportunities in Guatemala for returning immigrants and the Mayan communities they come from.
Jenn Summers, a Furman University student, conducted research on traditional Mayan agriculture a fore-running practice to the organic movement. Additionally, Jenn helped design the organic herb garden in Café RED, DESGUA´s sister social enterprise project and produced valuable literature supporting their work. In addition, during her three months at DESGUA, she designed an online crowd-funding campaign for Café RED and helped organize the first activities of the ¨Red Verde¨, the Green Network. The Green Network brings together social businesses, cooperatives and individuals in the Guatemalan Highlands working to promote sustainable environmental practices.
Oto Alves da Silva, our Brazilian intern, currently studying at Earlham University, assisted our intercultural coordinator in his work around the scientific, spiritual and mathematical contributions of the Mayan people. Oto worked with a group of spiritual guides in Totonicapán, the women´s weaving association AMUTED, and compiled educational materials for understanding Mayan culture and cosmovision (Mayan Worldview). DESGUA is grateful for his technological contributions and looks forward to incorporate technology as a tool to teach cosmovision to children, youth and adults.
We look forward to continuing our relationships with Murphy, Jenn and Oto and are excited about the opportunity to host future interns here at DESGUA. For more information about our research intern program or to apply to be an intern with DESGUA please send a cover letter and resume to Juanita Dale at email@example.com.
DESGUA continues to celebrate the human voices that come together declaring that another world is possible. We now invite you to join us by making a contribution to support our ongoing work of building the “Guatemalan Dream.”. Please remember even the smallest contribution goes a long way.
The DESGUA Guatemala Crew
Dear Friends and Family of DESGUA,
We were so pleased to receive e-mails from you after our last posting and now we invite you to give us your feedback and comments right here on our Globalgiving page. The work of DESGUA would not be possible without our broad network of supporters and collaborators. We need your help to spread the word about our work. You can help DESGUA and the School of Community Organizers by leaving us your thoughts and responses here on our page.
We have the pleasure of sharing many new exciting program updates about the work of DESGUA. We initiated a new set of capacity-building workshops on Community Economic Initiatives as part of the Social Enterprise Administration and Management program of the School of Community Organizers. These new workshops are designed for Mayan youth from rural areas who desperately need entrepreneurial skills to work toward the equitable and integral development of their communities. The first set of workshops took place in our offices in Quetzaltenango last month, where youth learned to identify their individual skills, their communities’ needs, and received a dynamic introduction to economic concepts.
As Clara, one program participant, stated: “I never realized that the knowledge I have about growing potatoes and corn and going to the market can be applied to the administration of an economic project.” Carla, like many of the youth in our programs, is a returned immigrant. After trying to make her way to the United States on her own and facing the harsh realities of the deportation system, Carla has had to return to her small agricultural community, where opportunities are far and few between. These new workshops are ideal for youth like Carla who aspire to make a difference for their families in their own communities, and need support.
At DESGUA we have also been very busy with the Cultural Empowerment and Mayan Worldview section of the School of Community Organizers. Youth and spiritual guides have engaged in a number of meetings about the science and philosophy of Mayan Cosmovision and have been participating actively in a number of ceremonies. Shortly after co-coordinating the celebrating of the equinox in the mountains of Totonicapán, Carlos Escalante, our intercultural coordinator, had the privilege of touring the United States to promote our cultural work. Carlos visited universities and met with community groups in Chicago, Terre Haute (Indiana), Madison, San Francisco and Los Angeles, doing educational presentations entitled “Mayan Cultural Politics and the Guatemalan Dream: Understanding Mayan Cosmovision at the Intersection of Politics, Spirituality and the Material World”. We are optimistic that the new international relationships that DESGUA is building will strengthen our work in various program areas including the School of Community Organizers.
In addition, an important part of DESGUA’s work is to host delegations from the United States. These delegations provide spaces for people from the U.S. to learn about Guatemalan history, culture, and the effects of economic trade policies and migration on local communities. This spring DESGUA hosted the Border Studies Program delegation from Earlham College for the third consecutive year. This program brings students who are working in organizations along the US-Mexico border to Guatemala to learn about the structural causes of migration and local solutions. During the delegation we had the privilege of bringing the students to meet various community groups and amazing leaders with encouraging conferences about community organizing. This model, where the North learns from the South, is at the base of our philosophy at DESGUA. As part of the trip we organized a cultural and educational exchange with a group of young women from San Martin Sacatepéquez. Participants shared their stories and dreams in a one-on-one setting. Both groups received insight into the lives of others, and it was an important opportunity to bridge the cultural gap. The young women are eager to participate in more cultural and educational exchanges with local and international groups.
The work of the School of Community Organizers continues to grow and develop as we bring together capacity-building workshops, cultural empowerment and Mayan Cosmovision, and bi-national educational opportunities. We are excited to share that we have a new initiative collaborating with a group of women weavers. DESGUA is offering a class on the symbolism of textiles called “Weaving our Identity” to a group of 23 Mayan women. New initiatives like this class would not be possible without the leadership and commitment of local leaders as well as the generous support from our international partners. We are so grateful for your solidarity and look forward to hearing from you soon.
Wishing you the best,
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