Girls, Women and Tech in Guatemala

by The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc.
Vetted
Victoria Caal, a Leader women of San Juan Chamelco
Victoria Caal, a Leader women of San Juan Chamelco

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 Gabriela Mistral in San Juan Chamelco improve a new Management Bussines Service to for innovate the production of artisanal products made by women for its commercialization in local markets. San Juan Chamelco is a village of Alta Verapaz (Guatemala), with an average of 58,000 of population. Most of the population (89%) talk in Quekchí, Poqomchí language and Spanish; Local economy is based in traditional crafts and agriculture. In San Juan Chamelco, 8 out of 10 people are poor: 78.2% population lives in poverty conditions, and of these, approximately 37.7 % in extreme poverty. Community Library Gabriela Mistral serve approximately 774 highly engaged monthly, being more than 90% Quekchí Mayan People.

One of this leader women in San Juan Chamelco is Victoria Caal. She's 46 years old, Neighborhood of Chitubtu (San Juan Chamelco, Alta Verapaz).

“Being in the women's project has given me the opportunity to discover my abilities and skills. Now I know I'm able to learn and to fight for my dreams. I always wanted to learn how to use a computer, but I had not way and I was scared, but thanks to the community library who have thought about our education. Today I have the opportunity I ever imagined. There is much to learn and yes I can.”

Women learning Technology in Chamelco
Women learning Technology in Chamelco
Women are entrepreneurs in Chamelco
Women are entrepreneurs in Chamelco
Our librarian girls change the children
Our librarian girls change the children's life

For rural communities in Central America, opportunities to change the life one is born into are hard to find. But for those who learn to read and enjoy a love of books. something powerful can happen, that takes them places never dreamed of.

At Riecken Community Libraries, our library users gain new skills and become linked to each other, to ideas and to opportunities – powerful tools for improving their communities and strengthening their participation in the bigger world.

Women and children are given opportunities to strengthen their leadership and information literacy skills in their communities. By having these doors of discovery opened, they are able to bring about positive change in their rural communities.

For over 20 years, Riecken Community Libraries have offered access to information, leadership development and a safe place to learn and grow in some of the most under-served communities of Guatemala and Honduras. These libraries help:

 

    •    Create lifelong readers

    •    Bridge the digital divide in Central America

    •    Support someone’s first hands-on computer experience

    •    Provide dynamic library programming and community

          outreach

Women using technology
Women using technology

Links:

Women from San Juan Chamelco (Alta Verapaz)
Women from San Juan Chamelco (Alta Verapaz)

In 2015 were four Centers for Human Development and Management implemented business community libraries: Kak Nojibal (Xolsacmaljá),  Source of Wisdom (San Carlos Sija), Open Windows to the Future (Chiché) y  Rija Tzuul Na Ooj  (San Juan la Laguna) where more than 150 women leaders were reached at community level. In December 2015 an analysis from the Index capacities of community libraries to display the fifth center was made, the process was developed with the group of woodcock and program officers of the Foundation, taking into account elements displayed a potential library were: Board of directors organized, ongoing projects, relationship with the municipal government and accountability in delivery of reports. As a result of evaluating two libraries they were pre-selected. In January 2016 a diagnostic visit was conducted to verify the selected criteria being the library strengthened the Gabriela Mistral Located in San Juan Chamelco the department of Alta Verapáz Cobán. From February 2016 the negotiations for the opening of the new center began. 

The project was carried out in the community with the participation of two women leaders representing two organizations swarm more than 500 women from different communities, 1 leading representative of the women's office of the local municipality, 2 women leaders representing the community library, and 1 representative educational sector and other members of the library board affirmed the need to implement actions that favor women

Municipal Corporation supports the implementation offering internet access, and accommodation of a space within the library also pledged to provide support for activities carried out in favor of women of different communities.

Group of Women in San Carlos Sija (Quetzaltenango)
Group of Women in San Carlos Sija (Quetzaltenango)
Women in action (Xolsacmalja, Totonicapan)
Women in action (Xolsacmalja, Totonicapan)

Links:

Women participates in Book process
Women participates in Book process

For over 20 years, Riecken Community Libraries - each a partnership of the Riecken Foundation, local communities and their local governments - have offered access to information, leadership development and a safe place to learn and grow in some of the most underserved communities of Guatemala and Honduras.

• Create lifelong readers

• Bridge the digital divide in   Central America

• Support someone’s first hands-on computer experience

• Provide dynamic library programming and community outreach

 

February 21st is International Mother Language Day (IMLD), a worldwide annual observance held to promote peace through awareness of linguistic and cultural diversity and multilingualism. It was formally recognized by the UN General Assembly in its resolution establishing 2008 as the International Year of Languages. For Riecken Community Libraries, our active promotion of literature and books in native languages alongside Spanish, is a perfect example of the spirit of International Mother Language Day, and tightly aligns our work with the UN Sustainable Development Goal of preserving cultural identity agreed upon in September 2015.

The creation of such books has been an ongoing project bringing people of all ages to collaborate in writing, illustrating and producing high quality books about their own communities for their local libraries. Participating communities have included Chiché, El Quiché; Copan Ruinas, Copan; Xolsacmaljá, Totonicapán; San Juan la Laguna, Sololá, San Carlos Sija, Huitán and Cabricán in Quetzaltenango. Supported by funding partnerships for a creative and educational process coordinated by The Riecken Foundation, the project brings publishers, local library directors, writers and artists, plus a host of volunteers to compile and publish oral histories and folktales narrated by Mayan elders in their communities. One book, The Tzijolaj: Mayan Kiche Oral Tradition (oral maya kiché, Ri Tzijol Aj), was compiled with the Mayan people of Chiché (El Quiché) and produced as an audio book!

The project, with a very high women participation, aims to conserve traditional culture, inspire creativity, and value diversity. Bilingual literature in Spanish and Mayan languages is rare in Guatemala and the region, and the books empower local people to express their traditions and values in word and art through high quality materials.  

Links:

E-Girl in a Reading Club
E-Girl in a Reading Club

Over half of Guatemalan population is rural, indigenous, lives in poverty, and is disproportionately young. Guatemala has the highest illiteracy and school dropout rates in Central America, with rural areas disproportionately affected. It is estimated that more than 30 percent of the people above the age 15 cannot read or write. In Guatemala, young people represent 39% of total population; rural women of Guatemala are synonyms of social exclusion; despite the significant increase in educational coverage at the primary level, 59 of each 100 girls go to the primary school.

Riecken Community Libraries want to support reverse this situation through Reading for Pleasure and improving young people organization. Riecken Community Libraries offer a safe and comfortable space for girls and teenagers of nearby villages known their rights and strengthen their social abilities.Reading Club using kindles or printed books, Projection activities, Technology access, Creative writing, Entrepreneurship training… a lot of options for girls of rural areas to building their future.

When girls in rural communities strengthen their Reading habits, leadership skills and abilities, and are provided participation to promote the women and children rights at the community level, there will be an increase in positive community development and improvement of quality of life in the communities. When girls learn to self-organize and work in a coordinated manner, they increase their community standing. Right’s Promotion activities that they generate will likely be more sustainable and have greater impact; and Reading and Technology will be our toolkits to do that.

Girls in a reading Club in Guatemala
Girls in a reading Club in Guatemala

Links:

 

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Organization Information

The Frances and Henry Riecken Foundation, Inc.

Location: Princeton, NJ - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.riecken.org
Project Leader:
Paco Alcaide
Jocotenango, Sacatepequez Guatemala
$235 raised of $5,000 goal
 
6 donations
$4,765 to go
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