The Kateri Tekakwitha Fund supports Indigenous Women’s Groups through the Mission: Guatemala project. Mission: Guatemala first began as a way for weavers to sell their products in the United States. Over the years the Mission: Guatemala project has evolved to support three local women’s groups by providing leadership opportunities, support services, skills training, and microfinance loans. The Mission: Guatemala project focuses on supporting the women’s groups as they conduct internal need-assessments in order to develop local solutions to economic challenges.
ABOUT MISSION: GUATEMALA
WOMEN OF CHUMANZANA
The Women of Chumanzana live on a hillside a 30 minute walk from the Pan American Highway. This group of seven weavers creates fabric, which is typical of the Chichicastenango region, using back strap looms. In response to a need assessment the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund’s Women’s Projects Coordinator, Candelaria Sut, facilitates projects for this group in gardening, cooking, and health classes.
MUJERES CLARENSES DE SANTA CLARA
The Mujeres Clarenses of Santa Clara la Laguna conducted a needs assessment in 2010 under the guidance of the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund’s local staff members. During this assessment the women determined that they wanted to learn how to make “delantales”, a type of apron, on sewing machines. With the support of a donation from Sara Stephenson, the women were able to complete the first two in a series of four classes organized by the Fund.
The Mujeres Clarenses are continuing to focus on sewing. Currently, some of the members of the group are also learning to weave “fajas”, a type of women’s belt, in a course taught by Mission: Guatemala staff member, Candalaria Sut. In addition, many of the women are buying sewing machines. Funds from an Easter Egg Grant provided by the San Francisco Presentation Sisters and Eleanor Oakley, a longtime friend of the Fund, are being used as micro-credit loans. Each member of the group has borrowed money to buy a sewing machine.
Since its start, the microloan program has grown beyond the sewing program. Today women in both Santa Clara la Laguna and Chumanzana have the opportunity to access small loans of $100 through the program. These loans allow them to build businesses, buy livestock, expands gardens and more. These actions increase their financial stability and allow them to better support their families.