Provide Organic Gardens for 20 Indigenous Women

by Kateri Tekakwitha Fund
Vetted
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.
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
Candelaria, Manuela, Josefa stir their substances
Candelaria, Manuela, Josefa stir their substances

This month, the women of Chumanzana learned how to prepare organic fertilizer, insecticide and fungicide. They had been looking forward to this demonstration for a while now. Thanks to the previous donations, the women learned how to prepare these resources to prevent pests from their gardens and to ensure their gardens stay healthy and vibrant. During this workshop, the women were enthusiastic to collaborate with one another. They gathered ingredients and worked together to build a fire to boil water in order to prepare fertilizer and insecticide.

Tomasa Mateo and María Isabel said it was a beautiful experience to learn how to create organic fertilizers. They know that this skill will be beneficial for the garden that they share together. After only 3 months of participating in the gardening project, they have already harvested half their garden for their own consumption and they have harvested the other half to sell. The garden feeds their family with nutritious food and provides extra funds for other needs.

There are still several women in Chumanzana on the waiting list, eager to join the gardening project. Please join us on Global Giving’s Bonus Day: Wednesday, June 15th starting at 9:00am EDT to give more indigenous women in Guatemala the opportunity to garden. Your contributions will be matched up to 40% as long as giving funds last! Consider that $25 will provide a woman with start-up funds to invest in her garden and a donation of $50 will help her buy new tools to manager her crops.

Another participant, Manuela says she’s very happy with her garden. She and her family have already enjoyed chard, carrots, and cilantro from her garden. With the help of her daughters, she’s already planted more seeds. Her husband is also very happy and proud of their family garden.

Only after a few months of joining the program, these women have gained invaluable skills that will have a ripple effect in their community. They are gaining knowledge and resources to sustain themselves with nutritional produce. They are improving the nutritional health of not only their families, but inspiring the wider community.

Manuela, ecstatic making organic fertilizer
Manuela, ecstatic making organic fertilizer
Maria and Isabel scrape "jabon negro", soap
Maria and Isabel scrape "jabon negro", soap
Josefa (in blue) distributes tools to new members
Josefa (in blue) distributes tools to new members

When Josefa first joined the organic gardening program she had little knowledge about gardening methods, but now, a year later, she has a vibrant garden that sustains her family and also attracts others in the community. The program has had a strong impact on her personal development and long-term effects on her community.

From student to teacher - Since the beginning, Josefa has been an active participant in the program with an eager attitude to learn. She wanted to gain the skills to sustain herself and her family. She has attended gardening meetings and workshops at least once a week for the past year. Sometimes the women receive external teachings that are not presented in their native tongue. Josefa’s bilingual abilities have been invaluable, as she often translates from Spanish to her native tongue for the rest of the women to learn. Nowadays, she focuses less on her own acquisitions of skills and knowledge, instead she works closely with the gardening project coordinators to teach and mentor new women who’ve joined the group.

Josefa inspires her community - At the beginning of the program all participants are taught that gardens are like babies: they need daily nutrients, care, and dedication to grow. Josefa took this metaphor seriously and because of her great care of her garden, she is known to have a bright and green garden all year round. Several women in the community notice her garden and want that for themselves and are on the waiting list to join the program. Josefa’s mother, sister-in-law and cousins have recently joined the program.

Better nutrients and additional resources for her family - Because Josefa maintains her garden so well, she can provide reliable nutrients to her family. She grows lettuce, onions, radishes, cauliflower, and garlic, to name a few. She also is a reliable resource to her community, as she sells her produce to her neighbors. In addition to saving her earnings for her family, she uses them to buy things that are difficult to grow, like sugar and salt.

Please donate to the project today so you can give women, like Josefa, the opportunity to develop their skills and impact the nutritional health of their community! Funds go directly towards supplies for the women to set-up and maintain their gardens as well as developmental workshops. Consider that $25 will provide a woman start-up funds to invest in her garden!

Josefa
Josefa's cousin and mom, happy in their new garden
Maria with her new gardening tools.
Maria with her new gardening tools.

As the women in  Chumanzana see what the women in the Organic Gardening Project have accomplished more women are eager to join.  The project has grown from seven participants at the beginning to eighteen this year.  The last seven members joined the group in January, 2016.

Typical of the new gardeners is  Maria Isabela.  She is nineteen years old.  She is married and has a son who is a year and a half. She was encouraged to enter the group because she saw benefits of  the garden of her sister,Josefa.  She joined the group to grow food for her family's daily meals and to sell the excess to add to the family income.  She could see that by belonging to the group, she would learn many new things.

Beyong the actual tangible benefit to the women's families, they always are eager to learn new things.  They have not had the opportunity for much formal education, but they are like sponges when they are given the opportunity for new experiences.

These womenn are given these new experiences because of your investment in the Organic Gardening Project.  Candelaria Sut, the woman in charge of the guiding the group, is paid through the funds you donate.  If you can make an additional donation now, we will be able to keep the group going and continue to add participants.  Everything is possible with a little help from a FRIEND!

Candelaria, One of the New Members of the Group
Candelaria, One of the New Members of the Group
Manuela Showing Off her New Gardening Equipment
Manuela Showing Off her New Gardening Equipment
New Participants
New Participants
 

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Organization Information

Kateri Tekakwitha Fund

Location: Pacifica, CA - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.kateri-fund.org
Project Leader:
Kay Sweeney
Pacifica, CA United States
2016 Year End Campaign
Time left to give
$7,670 raised of $8,000 goal
 
219 donations
$330 to go
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