Guatemalan Women's Cross Generational Development

by MayaWorks
Ingrid is happy to receive a full scholarship.
Ingrid is happy to receive a full scholarship.

Ingrid loves to study.  Her mother, Clementina, a MayaWorks artisan, says that as soon as she gets home from school, Ingrid pulls out her notebooks to continue her school work. Her parents never had the chance to go to school so when they learned of a scholarship opportunity that would pay for Ingrid's education through college graduation, they knew they had to support her, eventough it meant she would move away from  their village to live in Guatemala City.

Ingrid is only in thrid grade.  Her parents have never traveled more than five miles out of their village so letting Ingrid move to the big city is an enormous leap of faith for her parents.  After a long process of exams and home visits, Ingrid learned just before Christmas that she was chosen to receive the Boys Hope Girls Hope scholarship that would pay 100% of her tuition and room and board through college graduation.

Ingrid will move to Guatemala City where she will study at Esperanza Juvenil and live with other young scholarship recipients.  It will be quite an adjustment for her but she is very excited inspite of her young age when most young girls would be afraid to leave their families.  Ingrid knows this is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it gives her the opportunity to do what she most loves --study!

MayaWorks is grateful for the partnership with other NGOs that bring these opportunities to our artisan partners and their families.

Ingrid and her mother, Clementina
Ingrid and her mother, Clementina


Women and girls benefit from violence prevention.
Women and girls benefit from violence prevention.

MayaWorks believes that community development begins with the development of its women.  To assist women in developing a strong self-identity, MayaWorks has expanded its programming to include much needed domestic violence prevention and intervention services.  

Domestic violence services are very important in Guatemala where nearly 10 out of every 100,000 women are killed. Unfortunately, in Guatemala, violence against women isn't seen as a crime but rather a family issue.  So when Chimaltenango lost its only domestic violence agency, MayaWorks decided it had to do something to bring these services back to the community. 

In September, MayaWorks partnered with psychologists and social workers who specialize in domestic violence and together they began serving women in the central highlands who are trying to leave abusive relationships. MayaWorks is also developing a prevention curriculum where weaving classes will be augmented with women's empowerment seminars. Women and girls of all ages will participate in this cross-generational program.


Juanita gets her thread ready to weave.
Juanita gets her thread ready to weave.

Doña Juanita is part of the San Marcos La Laguna MayaWorks group. In her community she works as a volunteer health promoter and as a comadrona (midwife). As a comadrona she sometimes receives a little payment that the mother can afford, about $4 after a birth. In 1996 when Doña Juanita became part of the MayaWorks group, her economic situation changed. She receives fair pay for her work and often requests a microcredit loan to grow her weaving business. When she receives payment she divides it into three parts: one part pays for the raw materials to weave; one part buys food for the family; and one part is saved in the bank.

With the money she had saved in the bank, Doña Juanita built a little house for her family. Her father gave her an acre of land to grow corn but the fertile soil was all washed away by the rains of Hurricane Stan so she used the land to build a small home.

Determined to have a less difficult life than her mother, Doña Juanita works hard to support her family and contribute to her community. She is proud of herself and her ability to help other women. When times are hard, women like Doña Juanita are the ones who figure out how to make it all balance…how to keep the children in school, how to keep good food on the table, how to make hope a living word in the household.

MayaWorks supports this balancing act by providing training and technical assistance to expand the skills our artisans already have. New designs and color combinations, building on traditional designs, create new products for MayaWorks customers. New looms, sewing machines and introduction to new threads expand earning capacity. Classes in written and spoken Spanish open a wider world to MayaWorks artisans, encouraging them to sell their handiwork in other markets.

In a very real way, our donors help to eliminate poverty for Doña Juanita and many other MayaWorks artisans, not by handing money to them, but by giving them to opportunity to become economically sustainable through their own work.


Learning about the Comalapa mural
Learning about the Comalapa mural

Sometimes girls need a break from the rigors of school and moms need a break from the daily grind.  That's just what they get when they host visitors from the United States!

In January, MayaWorks' Rosa Moya Center hosted a group of upperclasswomen of the Castilleja School.  Castilleja ia an independent school for girls in grades six through twelve in the San Francisco Bay area. MayaWorks' scholarship recipients organized activities for the visitors that helped them understand Guatemalan cultue and the pace of daily life in a rural, developing country.

Rosa Moya students educated their visitors about Comalapa's history by showing them the student-designed mural project. They learned about the town's customs, its devestation by earthquakes and even about it's dark days of violence during Guatemala's 36 year civil war.  

Mom's also participated!  They invited the girls to their homes and taught them how to make tortillas.  They explained the importance of the tortilla in the Guatemalan diet and made a typical Guatemalan lunch for the Castilleja girls.

There was lots of fun too!  The Rosa Moya students prepared a piñata for their visitors who loved the custom of beating the piñata with a stick while blindfolded.  The shower of candy was an added bonus!

Creating opportunites for girls to meet young people their age from other cultures serves to widen their horizons and provides them a global insight to the world.  We've seen that it piques girls interest about the possibilties beyond their small communities.  Moms love making connections with people from far away who appreciate and respect their traditional indigenous culture.

You're never too old for a pinata!


When she
When she's not studying, she's weaving.

MayaWorks strives to assist students in achieving their academic potential by setting high standards and supporting them when they struggle to achieve their educational goals. 

In 2015 96% of scholarship beneficiaries received a minimum C average; 58 % achieved a B average. No students dropped out of school and, all students who were on track for graduation the past year, did graduate with their class.

The girls enjoy coming to MayaWorks' tutoring centers to receive support in their subject areas and to work in the computer lab.  Overall, students have a 85% attendance rate at our after school programming.  

Scholarship students also benefit from a language exchange with American students.  Young women from an all-girls school in California visit students of our Rosa Moya Center in Comalapa.  Each group of girls practices their language skills and complete a project together.  

Academic support and enrichment activities like the language exchange serve to keep girls motivated to stay in school and excel.  Thank you to donors for helping us in our efforts.

This little scholar is an example for her brother.
This little scholar is an example for her brother.



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Organization Information


Location: Berwyn, IL - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Jeannie Balanda
Executive Director
Chicago, Illinois United States

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