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Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala

by Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala
Support Sustainable Livelihoods in Rural Guatemala

As the world adjusts to the changes the COVID 19 pandemic has brought, each place adapts according to its own realities. The first cases in Guatemala appeared in mid March, the national government quickly established measures like closing schools, prohibiting public bus transportation, shutting the borders, limiting businesses and shops, establishing a curfew. To ensure the safety and well being of Pueblo a Pueblo staff and the people we serve, we postponed all face-to-face meetings and trainings and started working remotely. 

All these measures have helped reduce the spread of cases, but have had great impact in daily life and economy. This has had a dramatic impact on the communities we serve,  leading to  widespread food insecurity as most people live day-to-day, are in the informal economy, and rely directly and indirectly on tourism.

The bees, of course, continue to pollinate flowers and crops, produce honey, and continue protecting their hive. The beekeepers still have their regular tasks to keep up with to ensure healthy and productive hives. Since there is a ban on travelling between municipalities, the technical support has been done remotely, which has been a challenge at sometimes. However, the challenges have increased the independence of the beekeepers.

Pueblo a Pueblo analyzed what the short and long term impacts to the communities we work with and we determined the most immediate are increased food insecurity, and loss of family incomes. These will cause even more impact long term on education, health and malnutrition. To reduce immediate food insecurity we set up donation drives, with help of some matching grants, to collect funds to distribute food baskets to prioritized families we serve. 

 

In the medium and long term we've started adapting our projects to the changing needs of the communities we work with so that our actions lead to more positive impact. As we continue to adapt, we will provide food baskets to people in the communities we serve. 

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The new Santiago Atitlan beekeepers try their gear
The new Santiago Atitlan beekeepers try their gear

Like many of our supporters around the world, you are probably participating in widespread social distancing efforts to prevent the rapid spread of COVID-19, or the Coronavirus, in your community. As the virus spreads throughout Guatemala, Pueblo a Pueblo is doing the same.

Senior Beekeeping Technician Genaro Simalaj has been working closely with our beekeeping partners in San Pablo La Laguna. In January, they wrapped up the second year of the project cycle with a series of training sessions on business management.

Mid-February, Genaro also kicked off training with a brand new beekeeping group right here in Santiago Atitlán! These beekeepers-in-training got started with a workshop on the basics of beekeeping and received the protective gear they’ll need to keep safe while tending their hives.

In the weeks since our Santiago Atitlán took this exciting first step, however, we have seen interruptions to our activities due to the current global pandemic.

In accordance with national measures imposed by the Guatemalan government, Pueblo a Pueblo has suspended all in-person meetings and educational sessions to minimize the risk of exposure to our partner communities and our own team. Our staff, Genaro included, will work remotely until further notice.

At Pueblo a Pueblo, we recognize our ability to protect our most vulnerable friends, neighbors, and family members through social distancing. By limiting our contact with others, especially in large group settings, we can ease the burden this virus is likely to place on our rural Guatemalan community.

While our team cannot visit project partners to provide technical support for the time being, beekeepers-in-training will continue apiary maintenance as much as is possible while observing proper social distancing measures. We are confident that beekeeping will remain an effective means for economic empowerment once this crisis has run its course and look forward to the day our team can resume its activities alongside our project partners.

This pandemic has brought challenges to families and communities around the globe. It is already affecting Pueblo a Pueblo’s ability both to achieve our project goals and to ensure the safety and well-being of our staff and beneficiaries.  

As we work to execute a swift and effective response, please consider making a donation to this project today. Thank you in advance for your generosity—the future of our efforts to support families here on Lake Atitlán depends on it.

Our newest beekeepers attend their first training
Our newest beekeepers attend their first training
The Santiago Atitlan beekeepers-in-training
The Santiago Atitlan beekeepers-in-training

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Bees hard at work in one of the group's apiaries
Bees hard at work in one of the group's apiaries

What’s new?

Our beekeeping partners in San Pablo La Laguna have had a busy year. They've been hard at work dividing hives, harvesting honey, and building business connections. These beekeepers now manage over 30 hives across two apiaries, and they harvested over 500 pounds of honey in their first year of production! We are proud of all they have accomplished so far.

The group recently wrapped up their project training sessions for the year. This fall, they attended a series of workshops about native stingless beekeeping and built their secondary apiary. In December, they wrapped up a training unit on microbusiness administration, which they are already putting to good use!

The beekeepers have made plans for two new business initiatives. These new initiatives will not only generate income for the group but will also share the benefits of the project with others in their community. 

First, the group will begin selling hives to other groups of aspiring beekeepers.  They plan to divide ten of the hives in their main apiary next week and sell half of the resulting number in early 2020. The group has also begun to lead their own workshops on keeping native stingless bees. They even have the perfect classroom: their own secondary apiary!

More beekeepers on Lake Atitlán means more bees—a win for all residents who rely on agriculture to make a living. And more native bees means the preservation of this region’s indigenous pollinators. Our partners in San Pablo are proud to intervene on behalf of the environment. This passion is reflected in their name, Batz’ib’al Juyu’, which evokes their role as stewards of biodiversity in the local Mayan language.

 

What’s next?

The group will continue their trainings with Genaro in the new year. This time around, the trainings will focus on reinforcing what the group has learned about beekeeping and business. Genaro will continue to conduct technical visits each month to offer support and problem-solve as needed.

In the meantime, the group—and their bees—will enjoy the colors of a winter bloom in the fields and forests around their apiaries. We can’t wait to see all that our San Pablo partners will do in 2020! Thank you believing in the power of sustainable livelihoods to change lives. Your support fuels our partners’ success!

Group members at a recent meeting
Group members at a recent meeting
Group members with the last delivery of materials
Group members with the last delivery of materials
The native stingless bee apiary amid winter blooms
The native stingless bee apiary amid winter blooms
Beautiful winter blooms at the apiary
Beautiful winter blooms at the apiary

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The new apiary built for native stingless bees
The new apiary built for native stingless bees

This month, our partners in San Pablo La Laguna will celebrate one year together as a beekeeping team. Over the past year, they've worked hard to find their rhythm and establish some efficient group practices. In recent weeks, the beekeepers have taken on a new challenge: starting a second apiary for native stingless bees.

The group’s main apiary consists of 22 hives of European honey bees. This variety is widely used throughout the world because they produce large amounts of sweet honey. However, the San Pablo team is interested in more than just producing honey—they want to help preserve the biodiversity of their lakeside home, especially its native pollinators.

Last month, the group set up ten new hives with the assistance of Pueblo a Pueblo’s Senior Beekeeping Technician Genaro Simalaj. Their new apiary is home to five distinct varieties of native stingless bees. The group plans to transition into a two-part model: in addition to harvesting, bottling, and selling honey from their apiaries, they will operate as a beekeeping training center, offering technical instruction in beekeeping techniques and selling starter materials.

Since the group formed, they have been invested in sharing what they learn so that the benefits of the project can be multiplied. We’re proud to be working alongside beekeepers who are so dedicated to their families, their community, and their natural environment. Thank you for your investment in beekeeping for coffee farmers—your support fuels our San Pablo partners’ success!

A team-building exercise at a recent training
A team-building exercise at a recent training
A bee hard at work in the group's main apiary
A bee hard at work in the group's main apiary

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Group members at a recent technical training
Group members at a recent technical training

In September, our Beekeeping partner group in San Pablo La Laguna will turn one year old. The group spent their first few months together learning basic beekeeping skills and putting their new knowledge to the test in their apiary. Since their impressive first harvest in January, the beekeepers-in-training have settled into a rhythm and will soon take on the challenges of entrepreneurship with the help of Beekeeping project technician Genaro Simalaj.

The San Pablo beekeepers have accomplished much during their first year as a collective. Because of their attentive work, the number of hives in their apiary has almost tripled since Pueblo a Pueblo made its initial donation of 10 hives last September. The group is also well-organized; its members share beekeeping responsibilities and show up consistently when it’s time to coordinate next steps. 

Genaro will lead the group’s last technical training next month. In September, at the start of the project cycle's second year, he will shift the focus of subsequent trainings to entrepreneurship. This change is coming just in time for the San Pablo beekeepers.

The collective has their product ready—the honey from their first harvest is already bottled, sealed, and labeled with their logo. They have also started building valuable relationships with a variety of potential distributors in the Lake Atitlán region and throughout Guatemala. The beekeepers have both of these key elements—now they need help linking the two.

While the group has gracefully handled beekeeping crises big and small, they are more unsure of their upcoming venture into the world of sales. Fortunately, Genaro is here to help. The most important lesson he plans to impart during his upcoming trainings in San Pablo? “The group must continue to manage its resources in a unified way,” says Genaro. “They will earn a greater profit from their product if they sell it together than if they divide up each harvest for each of the ten members to sell separately.”

Genaro hopes that the San Pablo beekeepers will soon see their product sold far and wide. He knows that it will take time, but he believes in this group. “And if things keep going well, they’ll be harvesting again in August,” he notes, “which means even more product to distribute!” Thank you for believing in the power of beekeeping to transform lives. Your support will fuel our San Pablo partners’ successful steps into the next phase of the project!

Genaro (left) addresses the group
Genaro (left) addresses the group
The group's growing apiary
The group's growing apiary
A bee hard at work in the San Pablo apiary
A bee hard at work in the San Pablo apiary

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Organization Information

Pueblo a Pueblo, Inc.

Location: Neenah, WI - USA
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Twitter: @Pueblo_a_Pueblo
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Boston, MA United States
$4,920 raised of $7,000 goal
 
124 donations
$2,080 to go
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