Friday, January 21, 2011

Guatemala Society and Culture, Aid and Development

Guatemala Society and Culture, Aid and Development

from, Open Directory Project: The Definitive Catalog of the Web


* Top
* : Regional
* : Central America
* : Guatemala
* : Society and Culture
* : Aid and Development (27)

* Economic Development@ (13)

See also:

* Regional: Central America: Society and Culture: Aid and Development (0)

This category in other languages:

* French (9)

* Agua Viva Children's Home - Chimaltenango. A non-denominational Christian home and school describes its history and current programs, with information on sponsoring a child or participating in a mission trip.

* Ak'Tenamit - A non-profit international development organization working to reduce poverty among Q'eqchi' Maya in Eastern Guatemala. Describes programs, organizational structure, and how to get involved.

* Amigos de Santa Cruz - Nonprofit describes economic, education and health projects in Santa Cruz la Laguna, Lake Atitlan.

* Amnesty International - Guatemala - Ongoing collection of news and reports on the status of human rights.

* Amnesty International USA - Guatemala Human Rights - News, reports and success stories for the country including AI Annual Report entries for the past ten years.

* Casa Guatemala - Homes for orphaned, abused, or abandoned children, in Guatemala City and Rio Dulce. Describes programs, facilities, and financial support needs. [English/Spanish/French]

* Center for Mayan Women Communicators - A non-profit which functions as a center for women to unite and to develop skills in communications technology to enable better representation in the world and in the media. [English, Spanish]

* Common Hope - Works to improve health care, education, housing, and human development in Guatemala. Site described programs, people, history, statistics, and financial arrangements.

* Directory of Development Organizations - Guatemala - Comprehensive directory of international organizations, governments, private sector development agencies, civil society, universities, grantmakers, banks, microfinance institutions and development consulting firms. Includes contact information. [PDF]

* Eldis - Country and Region Profiles: Guatemala - Database of online development policy, practice and research documents, searchable by sector or keywords. Includes index to British Library of Development Studies printed material.

* Guatemala Stove Project - Canadian nonprofit which raises funds and send volunteers to build masonry stoves with low-income households. Describes the advantages of these stoves, and how to get involved. [English, Spanish]

* Helps International - US-based nonprofit describes their economic development, health and education programs.

* Light the Village - The Guatemala light project provides solar power LED light systems to families in remote villages. Team members, sponsors, and project photographs.

* Masons on a Mission - Description of a project by a multinational group of Masons in Guatemala to replace traditional cooking methods with more healthy ones.

* MayaWorks - Community development nonprofit which organizes handicraft producers, provides microloans and training, and sponsors tours of participating communities. Describes programs and offers retail and wholesale purchasing online.

* Mayapedal - Sustainable development project which recycles used bicycles to build pedal-powered machines. [English, Spanish]

* OneWorld US - Full Coverage: Guatemala - Provides news, opinion, events and campaigns on human rights and sustainable development issues.

* Partners In Solidarity - US-based charity which supports rural education and medicine.

* Partners of the Americas - Alabama-Guatemala Chapter - NGO facilitating student and professional exchanges, as well as charitable work, describes their past projects and provides current contact and meeting information.

* Project Mosaic Guatemala - Antigua-based center to match foreign visitors with volunteer opportunities throughout the country. Gives overview of services and placements, with recent newsletter and financial information. [English/Spanish/German]

* Pura Vida - An ecumenical Christian project providing food and education in Lemoa, Quiche. They describe their work as well as donation and volunteer opportunities.

* Servants For Him - Christian evangelism program which provides household biosand water filters, as well as health education.

* The Highland Support Project - A US Methodist-affiliated group supporting economic development projects with several women's groups in the highlands.

* The Mayan Connection - Los Cimientos Alliance - Antigua-based international group working with Maya K'iche people to recover their land in Los Cimientos. Gives dispute history, and describes ways to get involved.

* The Penny Foundation - Helps peasant women and men from indigenous rural families granting microcredit and training for access to land, agricultural production and textiles.

* UN OCHA ReliefWeb - Guatemala - Provides latest updates on emergencies, sector reports, appeals and financial tracking along with background information and employment vacancies.

* US State Department - Human Rights Report: Guatemala - 2008 report on the current status of human rights practices including human freedoms, civil liberties, political rights, international investigations, discrimination, worker rights, child labor and working conditions.

For actual links, go to:

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

With transatlantic support, new school opens in Jocotenango

What an inspiring story, and we can do it in Panajachel, too!

By Matt Bokor • January 18, 2011, Revue Magazine
Education for the Children Foundation

VIPs & children

Built with an outpouring of support from both sides of the Atlantic Ocean, a modern new school has just opened for over 500 Guatemalan children, many of whom might not get an education otherwise.

Located in Jocotenango, just three kilometers from La Antigua, the spacious Escuela Proyecto La Esperanza has 20 classrooms, a computer lab, an audio-visual room, library, kitchen, psychology room and more. It also has access to playing fields and green space, thanks to the generosity of Finca La Azotea, which donated most of the 3,000 square meters of land on which the new school stands.

“This is a very special day,” British Ambassador to Guatemala Julie Chappell told an assembly of children, parents, teachers and supporters seated in the broad courtyard on Monday, Jan. 17.

The bright, airy learning center is the centerpiece project of the Nottingham-based Education for the Children Foundation, whose chairman, David McKee, fought back tears as he addressed the audience.

“We have a beautiful building – but it’s just a building,” he said. “A school needs children who want to work hard and study. A school needs teachers with abilities but who also understand the problems of the people of Jocotenango.

“A school needs leaders with vision. But most of all a school needs a heart and a soul. La Esperanza has those qualities that make it a school,” he said.

The top three learning priorities will be computer skills, English and extra-curricular activities, be they sports, arts or community service, McKee added. “With education, all things are possible.”

French architect Pierre Turlin, who worked at greatly reduced rates, was cited for working closely with materials supplier El Mastil to keep construction costs down (approximately Q3,440,000). El Mastil also discounted prices as its contribution to the project, McKee added.

Another of EFTC’s top benefactors locally, Ricardo Pokorny and Katie Cunningham of Finca La Azotea, provided a 75% discount on land costs and allowed the foundation to repay the balance over 15 years. Children can go out the back door, through rows of coffee plants, and enjoy sports on a wide playing field, among other educational features at the farm.

Not only are children of Azotea employees enrolled at the 2,000-square-meter school, it also plays a pivotal role in improving the future of the community, Pokorny explained.

“If education improves in Jocotenango, I improve, Azotea improves, tourism improves,” he said. “It reduces violence … the whole town improves and reduces its sleeper community characteristics.”

The school replaces a smaller, cramped center where children didn’t have the opportunity to play on green grass. La Esperanza also has capacity for 125 more children than the old location, which EFTC had been renting since 2008.

“This school has space to think and study – but also to play, to have access to real grass. The old school didn’t have space to play,” Ambassador Chappell said. “This is one dream fulfilled — and we’re waiting to hear what the next dreams are, and we’re here to support them.”

To donate or for more information, visit

Education for the Children Foundation

Categories: Editorial, Education
Tags: Ambassador Julie Chappell, David McKee, Education for the Children Foundation, El Mastil, Escuela Proyecto La Esperanza, Finca La Azotea, Jocotenango, Katie Pokorny, Paul Stickland, Pierre Turlin, Ricardo Pokorny


My comment:

Catherine Todd
January 18, 2011 at 11:01 pm | Permalink

This is just wonderful, and what we want to do for the children and families in Panajachel. I love the idea of creating a school for “computer skills, English and extra-curricular activities, be they sports, arts or community service, McKee added. “With education, all things are possible.”

With education, many things are possible, but I know that it’s heart, soul and Prayer that makes things worthwhile. Good going and I hope we can do the same thing soon. We’ll be working with, another wonderful organization in Chimaltanango. Check their website out.

My Antigua: Pierre Turlin

Read this story about why this Parisian loves living in La Antigua, Guatemala (about 1.5 hrs from Panajachel). It's why I love living here too. If I couldn't return to my beloved Paris, Lake Atitlan is a second - and now - first choice! One day you will come too, I hope! Your friend Catherine Todd

My Antigua: Pierre Turlin

By Sofía Letona on September 201, Que Pasa

How did you end up in Antigua? Well, I’m from Paris and when I started working there, I did just that. I created a space big enough to turn it into a restaurant where there was live music, exhibitions and a display of furniture models. I had it for one and a half years, and during that period, I almost never was home because there was no time. It was then that I decided to sell it. I thought, “No, I’ll kill myself this way,” so I left with the idea of going in another direction entirely. As I had many friends in parts of Latin America, I decided to go to the United States, buy a pickup with a camper, and travel throughout Latin America. I left the United States to go to Brazil, going through all the countries possible and under several circumstances. Then I bought a farm in Costa Rica and didn’t really like it that much. I had already found Nadia (my wife now) during my time in Guatemala; we began a sentimental story. One day she said, “Look, I’m here (in Guatemala), and I like it, so if you want, come live here.” And I did.

What was your job in France? Well, once I completed high school, I studied fine arts and ceramics, and graduated in both. Then I studied and graduated in design. My work has always been the same since I was little: creation. All that has to do with it: to transform any material and give it another look. In Paris, I made prototypes of furniture, arranged exhibitions and created sculptures.

Was it difficult to get a job in that area? I was born in the year 1951, and during the 70’s and 80’s in France, there were an insane amount of opportunities because they were the years of Mitterrand, who had two periods of government. He was a socialist, but a bourgeois socialist, not a communist, which means that there was development for the country in a direction where the bourgeoisie and the people walked forward with a cause, so for 20 years I worked and worked and worked.

What happened once you were here in Guatemala? I married Nadia, had a son and our life started here, but I was not yet integrated into society because I didn’t speak Spanish. I was with an Italian woman who spoke French, so I didn’t have to make an effort, and I didn’t want to work in the same field here; I had made plans to make ships.

How did the ship making go? When I got here I started to build one, finished it (it took me three years without doing anything more than the boat which was a little more than ten meters in size), and Nadia told me, “We’re not going to live somewhere else, we are staying here.” Imagine that, after making the boat for three years, I had to do something else. Then Nadia said, “Look, why don’t you offer your artwork and design? There’s a clientele here that can really appreciate it,” and I said, “okay.”

How did you like the idea of continuing what you had been doing in France? It didn’t bother me because it was something that I liked. I was working as before, but in a different way because I didn’t have the same stress I used to have in Paris; there, if you want screws, you’re going to spend two hours looking for them. I thought I’d create a new range of furniture, ceramic sculptures and a collection of blown glass, and that’s how we opened the first showroom, Differenza.

What was working in Guatemala like? From the beginning, I realized that in Guatemala there is a gold mine in the matter of people and material to work with. There are plenty of artisans who are very good at manual labor. The only thing missing here is the cultural development because they didn’t go to school and don’t know what is happening in the world, but their manual capacity is incredible; they have a huge ability to help me develop my ideas.

What changed over time? I found the world of artisans and workers, and on the other hand, I found the world that my wife already knew: the world of customers. All these people of Antigua and foreign ones, and some from the city that realized I had the capacity to develop things with fine art and called me to participate in other projects, like the Château DeFay.

How has your integration with Antigua progressed? People got to know me more and more. I became the Treasurer for the Club Antigüeño (Antigua’s Club), then the president of the Asociación de Vecinos (Neighborhood Association) of San Pedro El Alto, and it was then that I became an Antigüeño, and the proof is that we go back to Europe very little. I have no great desire to go; I’m totally submerged in this life.

What do you like the most about Antigua? First, Antigua has a world, a social group. I’m talking about people you know, like about 5,000 or 10,000 people who almost all know each other. There are events that are organized and everyone goes and there’s another event and usually you’ll find the same people. You walk in the street and you can’t go 50 meters without saying hello to someone you know, whether they are foreigners or Antigüeños, two separate groups; they aren’t really separate because they are mixed, and this mixture has made an interesting group.

I like the possibilities that exist for children in Guatemala. Here the children are important. As a child I lived in Paris; you cannot play in the street, not tennis, not football, there is nothing to do. After school, I went straight home. Here you can do everything! That’s one of the things that encouraged me to have a child, that the environment is different and they can do so much.

The only thing that I am missing here in Guatemala is the right to vote because I don’t have the nationality; the most interesting thing is that in France I never voted for being too individualistic and here I am fully integrated into society.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Carmela Ramos Family in San Jorge, mostacilla group

from Lianne Gonsalves
to "Catherine S. Todd"
cc Aurelio Castano
date Mon, Jan 10, 2011 at 7:35 PM
subject Re: Lianne Gonsalves, author of "Behind the Beads: Mostacilla and Its Impact..."

Wow, this looks amazing! I just sent off an e-mail to the two oldest siblings of the family I worked with (they're the ones on Facebook) and I might shoot off an e-mail to Dr. Wallace as well to see if he's still directly in contact with the family itself. Please feel free to post my paper wherever - anything to raise awareness!

I hope I can get you in contact with the Ramos family in San Jorge (who I stayed with) - when I was there, the mother Carmela, was not only in charge of a mostacilla group, she also appeared to be fairly well respected in the community and helped out at the local clinic.

I'd love the extra work in Guatemala but alas I'm headed back to school when return to the United States - I'm getting a Master's in Public Health at Johns Hopkins. I'm currently working as a Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Caracas and there are a few other ETAs scattered around the country who I'd be happy to recommend to you - they've all got a command of Spanish and a couple of them are definitely interested in development work...

- Show quoted text -

Behind the Beads: Mostacilla and Its Impact on the Women of San Jorge la Laguna

by Lianne Gonsalves, North Carolina State University, Raleigh NC, USA (written around 2007):

"You know, the people here really love beads as do people all over the world. Beads are something tangible; it inflames their imaginations...” –Surunda Velasquez

Though barely 20 years old, mostacilla (beadwork) has quickly spread across Guatemala, becoming a popular tourist souvenir and export item. Since its arrival to the San Jorge la Laguna, Sololá, Guatemala 15 years ago, mostacilla making has become a source of income for the majority of women and their families in this town. However, lacking a market in which to sell their products, the women of the town instead sell their work to indigenous vendors in neighboring Panajachel and Sololá. These vendors buy the work cheaply, then turn around to resell to tourists (or better yet, export to foreigners), making apparently a significant profit in the process. The women of San Jorge feel they are forced to sell mostacilla to their vendors at extremely low prices, and are unhappy they are unable to do anything about it. The women dream of a unified organization of San Jorge’s mostacilla workers, independent from vendors, with their own access to the tourist and international market. However, too much competition between the women, lack of leadership and lack of foreign support works to ensure that, at least for now, a market in San Jorge will remain just a dream.


The methodology for this study relied heavily on the use of open-ended interviews. Starting with members of my immediate host family, I used their references and those of my extended host family members in a snow-balling effect, which eventually allowed me to have extensive, sit-down interviews with 13 women living in different areas of San Jorge. Interviews (all of which were recorded) took place in the homes of these women (or the home of a family member), an environment which was both convenient and comfortable for the informants. At the start of each interview, I began with a ten-question survey, consisting of simple, easy-answer questions that allowed me to gain some basic information about the women I was interviewing (how old they were, how many years they had been doing mostacilla, etc.), let them become comfortable with me, and also provide me with some quantitative data to analyze later.

The interview itself was tailored to the women; women who had been doing mostacilla for close to 15 years were asked more questions about the history of mostacilla in San Jorge, while others who had been identified as the “señoras” of mostacilla work groups were asked more about vendor relations and business. Most interviews lasted about 30 minutes. Outside of San Jorge, I conducted both formal and informal interviews (also open-ended) with a number of mostacilla vendors in Sololá, Santiago, and Panajachel. Some vendors were street-side sellers, selling mostacilla from a small cart while others had established tiendas filled with hundreds of different designs. Depending on how much time the vendor was willing to spare, interviews lasted anywhere from 10 to 35 minutes; these interviews were not recorded.

Click here to download the pdf article:

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Panajachel, Lake Atitlan, Guatemala
View of Lake Atitlan and volcano from my apartment balcony in Panajachel. Taken by Catherine Todd June 2008.