New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump

by Creamos
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump
New Lives for 150 Women of the Guatemala City Dump

Like all great stories, ours began when a group of women decided to challenge the status quo. They grew up in a community with limited resources and even less opportunities for dignified work. Out of necessity, they made a living sifting through trash in the Guatemala City garbage dump for recyclable materials to resell. 

In 2008, these women decided this was not the reality they would pass on to their children. Founding their own entrepreneurship initiative, they learned to make upcycled jewelry, sewn goods, and eco-friendly custom packaging products for socially-conscious businesses. They called themselves Creamos, which means “we create.”

This alternative income gave them the opportunity to leave behind dangerous work in the garbage dump for good. Their initiative has grown into so much more than they could have ever imagined: Today, Creamos is a multi-service non-profit organization that accompanies hundreds of women on their path towards safer and healthier futures by offering emotional support, adult education, dignified employment, and workforce preparation. Their tenacity fuels the Creamos mission, which you have so generously chosen to support. 

As we transition to a different giving platform, we hope you’ll choose to continue supporting Creamos. Please visit creamosfuturos.com and click “Donate” to continue being an ally of the women of the Guatemala City garbage dump community, and together, we can create a reality in which no woman in the community surrounding the Guatemala City garbage dump has to engage in risky work.

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Irina, Creamos jewelry artisan
Irina, Creamos jewelry artisan

This year, Creamos celebrated its thirteenth anniversary and since our founding, we have evolved into a collaboration of over 350 individuals who unapologetically challenge this status quo in pursuit of safer and healthier futures for their families and community.

This past year was a year of growth and perseverance. Creamos participants dove into 2021 with a fine tuned adaptability, creativity, and tenacity to dismantle chronic barriers to opportunity. Over 115 adult learners remained diligent through distance learning; 140 women engaged in emotional support and therapy; and to top it off, 50 Creamos artisans manufactured over 30,000 custom packaging bags, all while designing, producing, and launching the Creamos COLOR Collection.

These successes were made possible through your shared belief in our mission to propel community-driven change. Irina, a Creamos jewelry artisan, expresses her gratitude, saying: “[At Creamos,] I’ve had the opportunity to meet many people to whom I am very grateful because they believed in me. They don’t just believe in our program - they believe in us as people.” We are committed to manifesting Irina’s sentiment by believing the lived experiences of Creamos participants, deferring to local wisdom, and centering program design around participant-identified needs.

As a demonstration of this commitment, we hired four community members to our team this year in recognition of the reality that true change hinges upon local leadership. Beyond our walls, we forged relationships with neighboring nonprofits, coming together in innovative ways to share resources and promote a sense of collective action within the community surrounding the garbage dump.

Throughout 2021, we strengthened local partnerships, expanded our programming, and as always, Creamos participants displayed unyielding perseverance on their paths to self-determination. We now look forward to channeling this growth and momentum in 2022!

Jewelry artisans
Jewelry artisans
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Many elements of Creamos, like much of Guatemala, continue to operate in virtual spaces when possible as infection rates recently peaked at the end of August with the increasing presence of the more contagious Delta variant. Currently, a little over 13% of the population of Guatemala is vaccinated. Specifically within the communities of the Guatemala City garbage dump, myths and misinformation regarding Covid-19 circulate via social media in the absence of educational resources regarding safe health practices. Added layers of religious influence, low education levels, and historical exclusion from adequate healthcare systems have resulted in hesitancy and even fear of the vaccine and a stigma of testing positive.

In efforts to counter these elements and assist their community in navigating the government’s vaccination process, Creamos participants, Lesly (pictured above), Mirna, and Maria recently participated in a community-led health training. Through their participation, they gained vital information about the virus, the vaccine, and how to respond to Covid-related questions. As a follow-up to this training, these three women, along with a staff member at Creamos, manage a list of all vaccinated community members, ensure that their friends and neighbors know when and where to receive their second dose, and reach out to those once they become eligible for the vaccine. Lesly, Mirna, and Maria meet every Monday at Creamos to review and update the list and make calls to members of the community. As respected women of Creamos, their congregations, and the larger community, these women have been key to combating layers of mistrust and misinformation that, unchallenged, would result in low vaccination rates and likely higher infection rates within the community. In a display of leadership and solidarity, they’re taking it upon themselves to make their communities brighter and healthier.

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As we approach Mother's Day, it's time to celebrate the importance of your ongoing support in the lives of mothers in the community surrounding the Guatemala City garbage dump. 

Intake evaluations performed with Creamos’ clientele this past January indicated that over 95% of the 300 women in the program have experienced intimate partner violence (IPV) and/or gender based violence (GBV) during their lifetime, and only 10% sought legal or social support. According to a recent report published by Amnesty International, Creamos' intake data aligns with country-wide statistics indicating that Guatemala suffers from one of the highest rates of IPV and femicide in the world. In 2008, the Guatemalan congress passed the “Law against Femicide and Other Forms of Violence against Women” in an attempt to address this issue. Despite moderately decreased femicide rates in the years since, the impunity rate in femicide cases persists at 98% according to the United Nations, indicating a lack of governmental attention directed towards this issue. In 2010 alone, 313 women per 100,000 people reported experiencing domestic violence, and 2 per 100,00 women were victims of femicide. The effects of this injustice are amplified for those living in the GCGD squatter settlements, as many vie on scant resources, education levels among the population are astronomically low, and there is virtually no opportunity for formal employment.

This spring, with your support, Creamos is endeavoring to change this narrative. Creamos' Emotional Support Team is in the preliminary stages of launching an Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) and Gender Based Violence Treatment and Prevention program for for 140 women in the garbage dump community. This program has been designed to address the astronomically high rates of violence towards women and girls living in this community who are living in isolation, experiencing violence, and have never had the opportunity to access services. Some of the dangers these women face are overt, including violent acts of physical and sexual violence, while others result from more subtle gender-based pressures, including high rates of teenage pregnancy, single motherhood, multiple children per household, and lack of exposure to healthy relationships, low-self-esteem, and lack of financial independence.

This program will serve to provide 140 women who have been identified as involved in (or at risk of being involved in) abusive relationships with the tools, resources and support necessary to become strong self advocates through providing basic knowledge about the characteristics of IPV and GBV; facilitating activities to support the identification of violence in their lives and community; developing safety plans to ensure an exit option for themselves and their children; increasing exposure to life-saving services and resources in the community; and increasing the understanding of women’s rights and Guatemalan gender based violence laws. 

Thank you for making programs like this possible. We're so grateful to have you with us on this journey to promote safer and more sustainable lives for the women and mothers in the community surrounding the garbage dump. 

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When we started this fundraising campaign in 2016, Creamos served 150 women. Today, as we kick off 2021, we're proud to report that an anticipated 250 adults - both women and men - will pass through our doors this year. Back in 2016, we were a staff of 4 - today, we are a team of 15. In these past four years, our income generating programs have grown from a small and humble recycled jewelry program to an internationally recognized social enterprise; our emotional support programs have expanded to provide individual, group and family therapy for over 150 individuals per year; and our basic adult literacy program has morphed into government accredited elementary, middle and high school for over 200 adult learners in the garbage dump community. We can't wait to keep you updated on all that this year brings, and all that your ongoing support has made possible. Cheers to another year of partnership! Now let's get to work.

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Organization Information

Creamos

Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala - Guatemala
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @creamosmujeres
Creamos
Sara Ritchie
Project Leader:
Sara Ritchie
Guatemala City, Guatemala

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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