Kateri Tekakwitha Fund

The Kateri Tekakwitha Fund exists to empower Guatemalan women to break the cycle of poverty by having a positive impact on their lives, families, and communities through collaboration, educational scholarships, and support.
Nov 17, 2016

Candelaria Evaluates Her Project!

Maria with her new garden.
Maria with her new garden.

 The Organic Gardening Project has a total of 18 women participating. The objective of the project is for every woman to have fresh produce for their family’s consumption and have some produce to sell and with this profit be able to provide some of basic needs for their family. Another project objective is to empower the women by teaching them different skills that give them independence and knowledge. With the produce from their gardens, they were able to provide a better diet for their family. It also gave the women a certain amount of economic independence, since they were able to sell some of their produce and buy a pound of salt, sugar and more basic items for their daily cooking

The women acquired new knowledge as they were integrated into the organic gardening project. The Kateri Fund provided the women with recycled bottles and the needed tools for gardening, different types of seeds, and natural products for the gardens. Through visits to other women’s successful gardens, they were able to learn how to build a raised bed garden.

Workshops in making shampoo and making organic fertilizer and insecticide were taught by the women who were originally in the project. This provides a chain of knowledge as they share what they have learned. The participants grow in their gardening knowledge, in the use of recycling materials, and in creating natural products like chamomile shampoo.

For many of the women, the big benefit from becoming part of the project is acquiring the skills they need to profit from their gardens and become economically independent and provide more nutritious meals for their family.

For others, it’s about obtaining a different kind of independence. Guatemala is a very sexist country, especially in the indigenous communities. This is why it’s common for men not to allow their spouses to join projects such as the Kateri Fund, since they consider them a waste of their time. But once the husbands learn about the economic benefits of being part of the group, they let them participate and even encourage them to go and learn and share their experiences in the workshops. This is a big step in empowering women in indigenous communities.

In order to reach the goals of the project, the women were motivated by taking them to see successful garden of other older members of our project. There, they shared their knowledge and experiences.

The project manager learned new skills as well. In the past, she had learned the organic gardening techniques. For this group, she learned the process of making shampoo in order to teach the women. She felt it was very important to learn this to perfection, so that she could pass this knowledge to the women.

She found it easy working with the new participants, since they are so eager for knowledge. As the women for the most part do not feel comfortable speaking Spanish her ability to speak their language made things go smoother when teaching and sharing with them.

The hardest part of the project was dealing with personal issues between an old member and a new member of the project. She has to mediate so that their personal problems don’t interfere with the development of the team work.

Other situations that are hard is when some women can’t join the workshops, because of family necessities or children’s illnesses. The conditions of poverty in which these women live is a challenge. Two of the women are dealing with personal issues which she is trying to help them solve.

The women are much more participative than at the beginning of the project because of all the benefits that the project gives them, especially in the workshops, which they couldn’t attend before, since their husband’s wouldn’t allow them to go, neither to visit other gardens, or to speak their opinions during our talks.

Some of the older participants help the new ones by giving them their knowledge. The project manager feels this is the biggest achievement of the project.

The new members are very thankful for the learnings they have acquired as well as for the gardening tools that the Fund provides and the profits that they are earning from their own gardens.

In conclusion, the project has supported the women of Chumanzana in becoming economically independent. The project also has led to the entire family supporting and encouraging their wives and mothers into empowering themselves. In the women’s own words, ‘we create better opportunities for participating in the group talks as well as in generating profits out of our gardens. In these ways, we have new tools for fighting our daily struggle against poverty’

The new gardeners who joined the project in  2016.
The new gardeners who joined the project in 2016.
Candelaria Sut Canu, Project Coordinator
Candelaria Sut Canu, Project Coordinator
Isabel is ready to start her garden.
Isabel is ready to start her garden.
Josefa and Maria weeding their gardens.
Josefa and Maria weeding their gardens.
Isabel preparing the soil for planting.
Isabel preparing the soil for planting.
Nov 17, 2016

Emilsa Exposes the Young Women to New Ideas.

Our junior high group at the Museo Ixchel
Our junior high group at the Museo Ixchel

On my recent trip to Guatemala, I attended one of the monthly scholarship workshops led by Emilsa Peren. The topic was how stereotyping can affect our view of the world. She led the discussion of how ideas about what people, especially women, can and can’t do limits their life choices. Several women shared how things were changing in their villages. They were emboldened to share their own experience within their families as well. 

 In the past their families, especially their fathers, had not supported education for girls, but now many of them were encouraging the young women to continue studying, including at the university level. The example of  the increasing number of educated young women, has shown them that education for their daughters is worthwhile.  It is wonderful to see signs of change! 

I feel that these changes have come about because the young women who persevered without family support, the pioneers, many of whom were Kateri Fund scholarship holders, have proven that their education improves not only their lives, but the lives of the whole family and community. Thank you for being a part of this change.

 Our scholarship program supported fourteen young women in 2016 in junior high and high school career training. Three recipients graduated in October and joined the workforce. Eager young women are already applying to take their place.

We plan to expand our program in 2017.   To do that we need at least 50 new members in the Kateri Angels’ Circle. Our Angel Circle members pledge to make an on-going monthly donation to the project.  If you make your donation between November 29th and Dec. 31st, there are matching funds available.  Join the Kateri Angels' Circle during this time and encourage your friends to do the same.  With these added funds, we can award more scholarahips in Jan. knowing that we will have ample funds.

It is your support that makes it possible for these young women to prove that an education improves lives.

Thank you!

Sep 15, 2016

Candelaria Returns to Guatemala with New Ideas

Candelaria at the Pacifica Gardens
Candelaria at the Pacifica Gardens

Candelaria, the manager of the Organic Gardening Project, has just returned from a five month visit to the U. S.  During her visit, she worked with the Pacifica Community Gardens.  The project has been in operation for many years and has a wealth of knowledge to share. 

Candelaria had some basic ideas about composting before she arrived, but no  practical experience..  While in Pacifica, she was able to put the information to use and learn from the experienced composters at the Pacifica Gardens.  Now back in Guatemala, she is ready to pass that knowledge on to the women.  They learned that manure was useful as fertilizer for their gardens.  Now they will learn how to put what they consider garbage to use as well.

When I was in Guatemala, I was able to visit the women and was impressed with their enthusiasm.  I know that Candelaria is happy to be back at work!

Raised Bed Gardens Planted with Potatoes
Raised Bed Gardens Planted with Potatoes
Studying the Microbes Active in Composting
Studying the Microbes Active in Composting
Explaining her Guatemalan Project to Jasmine
Explaining her Guatemalan Project to Jasmine
Sharing Information with a Garden Volunteer
Sharing Information with a Garden Volunteer
 
   

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