Partners in Women’s Leadership Program in Guatemala
The Riecken proposal is based on the idea that when women in rural communities strengthen their leadership skills and abilities, and are provided participation and entrepreneurship opportunities at the community level, there will be an increase in positive community development and improvement of quality of life in the communities. Business projects that they generate will likely be more sustainable and have greater impact, both at the level of income-generation (business centers) and health (early stimulation and nutrition, etc.). BFB and Riecken Libraries support social entrepreneurs’ local initiatives (income generation, health promotion, literacy, advocacy, etc.) that promote the human, organizational, and social capabilities of rural women of Guatemala.
For combat the women social exclusion, Community Library K'ak' No'jib'al in Xolsacmaljá improve a Management Bussines Service to develop environmental projects focused on soil conservation and agricultura (organic compost and greenhouse) improving the self-employment of women in this community. Xolsacmaljá is a little village of Totonicapán (Guatemala), with an average of 1,500 of population. Most of the population (86%) talk in Kiche language and Spanish; it exists an average of 6 persons per family. Local economy is based in traditional crafts and agriculture. In Xolsacmaljá, 7 out of 10 people are poor: 73.29% population lives in poverty conditions, and of these, approximately 20.99 % in extreme poverty. Community Library K'ak' No'jib'al serve approximately 858 highly engaged monthly, being more than 90% Kich’e Mayan People.
Business Center offers: # of users: 25 women trained directly and 53 women trained by Women of Business center (Mentoring)
Beneficiary’s profile: Local trade associations, Farmers Organic Producers
Type of activities: Consulting, training workshops, tracking orders, visits, participation in national and international handicraft fairs.
The United Nations says that the culture is an engine for development and generates further identity and individual and collective self-esteem, as well as the social cohesion and of inclusion, both individuals and groups belonging to each of the people and ethnics groups. As a consequence, Culture is one of the most effective mechanisms to help and combat the exclusion, violence, crime, racism, social inequality, poverty and the extreme poverty. The Riecken community libraries continue demonstrating that investing in Libraries is to invest in development. The proposal “Guatemalan young people, agents of social cohesion, submitted to the online competition promoted by Mi Sangre and NEXSO, has won the FRIST PRIZE. http://www.nexso.org/es-es/jovenescreativos2014
Since Riecken community libraries in Guatemala, Young people have taken a firm step to bring about a change in attitude toward their present and future; the communities can lead its development from its cultural essence, resources, tangible and intangible assets.
Young people, overall the women, learned to investigate, to analyze and to observe their surroundings using technology Global Geo; in short, they learned to visualize their culture from their own past. In a process of recovery of memory, grandparents and young people prioritized the most relevant stories and identified in each of the communities, taking into account aspects such as their importance in the community, information sources and time of existence in the community, among others.
Five Riecken community libraries in Guatemala are involving different sectors of communities in decision-making on what places mapping and the use are given maps produced. The groups that have formed and trained for tours and recording points include children, youth and seniors; especially the seniors have been the essential historical source to identity potential routes of mapping. So far, have been developed cultural, cadastral, agricultural and economic maps, that are supporting the work of municipalities, schools, forestry offices, artisan cooperatives and tours guides, and even neighboring communities have benefited from record boundaries.
The principal leading of the implementation process of social cartography are Riecken community libraries in Guatemala. “open to future Windows”(Chiché), “Rija’Tzuul Na’ooj” (San Juan la Laguna, Sololá), “My new world” (Huitán), “New Dawn” (Cabricán) and the Library Nojival” (Xolsacmaljá, Totonicapán). Community leaders’ board and librarians of these communities have led a training process that has involved 75 children aged between 10-14 years; most of the students are into 4th to 6th, on primary grade level. Training topics addressed were, among others, essential notions of mapping, characterization of coordinates and map projections, use of technology global geo (GPS) and spatial sampling, definition of Community routes and patterns of social research and effective use of applications such as Google Earth.
So far these actions are directly benefiting to about 30,112 persons from 5 rural communities in Guatemala and indirectly approximately 13,000 families.
The recognition by Fundation “Mi Sangre” and NEXSO, developing solutions to youth groups Riecken Community Libraries in Guatemala is an opportunity to further deepen in visualize the culture as an agent of change and development and especially in creating economic opportunities in rural communities in Guatemala.
Despite its natural, cultural and development potential wealth, the general population and especially young people do not find economic opportunities so they are forced to leave their high school or away from their territories and communities in the search for a more positive horizon that allows them to develop as human beings with full rights. Promoting entrepreneurial skills in young people to enable them to develop further their studies and develop economic activities in their communities no longer a major challenge: how to develop economic activity in collaboration with peoples to their worldview, traditional knowledge and skills are adequately integrated and look reinforced?; How to develop an economic activity whose ultimate goal is not only increasing income but generates opportunities to strengthen the bond of young people to their community and identity and mitigate the impact of youth migration?. For these reasons and considering the successes achieved through technology and culture as a means of youth development, the prize money will focus on developing skills in young people through leadership Riecken community libraries.
Since the libraries, the development of technological, educational and learning spaces in entrepreneurialism to youth in the community skills will be promoted for Young people, students and library users to strengthen their personal values and collective leadership as an organized group, generate ideas entrepreneurship and its projection to the community.
Riecken Community Libraries are proving that libraries are essential for a democratic society. The libraries are institutions where citizens are encouraged to make informed decisions and achieve their full potential. They deliver knowledge, promote critical thinking and stimulate self-education and lifelong learning. In poor communities, libraries also fulfill the role of providing a sustainable framework, with the library’s operations run by volunteers in the community. Through community leadership, important principles of development and self-government are formed.
The network of community libraries support the improvement of educational quality by reducing the achievement gap with programs, offering complementary resources at local education centers, improving access to information and supporting teacher training. In one specific initiative called “Read Takes You Away!”, the libraries help strengthen performance and utilization of Spanish classes through reading for pleasure in coordination with curriculums that support reading with children, parents and teachers. With technical assistance from USAID, more than 30,000 children and 1,200 schools are involved and are supported by the more than 80 volunteers from the Riecken’s libraries.
Technology in the libraries represents an opportunity for economic inclusion of excluded sectors. The community libraries organize new services to meet the needs of the population such as integrating business centers into the library model. Local business producers – for example, weavers and artisans – are able to gain access to technology to improve their sales activities and business promotion. To further their education and understanding on how technology can help them, seminars are offered on marketing and business applications. Small business owners learn from one another through shared experiences and stories.
The Riecken Foundation believes that the single most effective way to promote the spirit of discovery is through the promotion and pleasure for reading and writing. Individuals who possess the spirit of discovery have the capacity of trying new things, starting new projects and participating in the social life of their communities. Reading leads to discovery and discovery leads to prosperity. Therefore, the daily effort of a community librarian cannot be understood without reading for pleasure. Through the librarian training program, the Foundation trains in techniques and methodologies to promote reading in children and adults through programming that makes reading fun and accessible.
One of the trainings took place in Guatemala. Within the framework of the National Meeting of Riecken Community Libraries, a workshop called “The Art of Writing” was an opportunity for librarians within the network to strengthen their skills in promoting reading for pleasure and creative writing. More than 30 representatives from Riecken’s libraries in Guatemala participated and learned about the importance of writing and the various strategies for writing a story. In addition, participants learned the basic tools of the trade for writing: space, time, narrator, genre, action, and the construction of scenes.
The library has an average of 347 visits per month (children: 180, young people: 114, and adults: 53). Weekly training is provided in story times to children aged six to nine, working jointly with elementary school, and care for the elderly. The transparency corner and thematic exhibitions of books and resources are kept updated. Monthly free computer workshops and crafts, as well as cultural and education activities are provided in coordination with teachers. In short, it is intended to promote youth leadership development programming.
The largest investment for the construction and allocation of resources amounted to $50,000 thanks to the generous gift from the Kilkenny family. The municipality of Parramos, local community management, and the Riecken Foundation supplemented this donation.
Thanks Kilkenny family for sharing our mission of promoting prosperity and democracy in Central America through Riecken Community Libraries!
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