Thousands of people living on the periphery of the Guatemalan City Garbage Dump survive by salvaging refuse to resell, risking their lives for less than $3USD a day. Many of these people are women. Almost half of these women are single mothers. Gender inequality is so deeply embedded in this community that these women usually earn 50% less than men, while acts of violence against them are a cultural norm. Many of the women we work with are victims of physical, emotional and economic abuse.
Our goal is to improve the lives of women in this community through various income-generating and welfare initiatives. We offer alternative employment, such as jewelry-making and sewing programs, as well as providing education and emotional support. By nurturing creativity, literacy, business skills and financial independence, our programs seek to build self-esteem and afford these women the chance to step outside of an oppressive status quo, setting a new example for the next generation.
We currently work with 124 women, but we believe the long-term benefits will extend into the wider community. Through education, by developing their skills and working with them to have their voices heard, these women can become influential agents for change in the community. If they are able to become advocates for themselves, it is hoped they will also set an example to others experiencing similar challenges, providing an alternative female reality to that of oppression, fear and dependency.