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Kateri Tekakwitha Fund Reflections on 2023

At this time of year in the United States, we take time to be thankful. As we approach the end of the year and look back on the year’s accomplishments, this attitude of thankfulness is one that comes naturally.

We’d like to share some of the reasons for our gratitude to all those who make our programs possible, which you can continue to do during our 2023 Year-End Campaign.

During the past year, a total of 14 women participated in the Kateri Tekakwitha Fund internship program: Mi Primer Empleo. Ten took part for the full year, while four finished their year-long term in June, and another four started in July.

A group of women standing in a patio
Some of the 2023 interns

The women gained work experience in a wide variety of fields. Some worked directly with kids in the classroom, others used skills such as accounting in the business sector, while others contributed to their communities through nonprofit work.

Three women were hired into permanent positions at the end of their internship period. One of them, Vilma, was hired at a younger age than the organization’s normal requirements because of the maturity that she had shown. She reflected on the experience, saying, "The truth is that I will always carry the Fund in my heart. I will never forget this institution that opened the door for me to get what I wanted most. I will never tire of thanking them."

Emely, another intern who recently completed her term, described her internship experience, saying, “It is an experience that I value very much… I really value the knowledge acquired and the knowledge shared by my co-workers. It’s definitely one of the best things that has ever happened to me.”

A woman standing behind the counter at a pharmacy
Josefina at her pharmacy

The healthcare scholarships continue to support women studying the nursing field. Two women have received financial support over the course of 2023. One of these, Sandy, just finished her studies in November. She is now working hard, studying for an exam to get a license.

An additional student, Josefina, completed her course of studies in January of this year. She was then able to open her own pharmacy, providing her hometown with a convenient place to purchase medicine and other essential items, as well as access routine healthcare. Josefina and the other healthcare scholarship recipients are being mentored by Karyn Choy, who provides additional support and guidance.

In Chumanzana, a group of women continued learning how to grow mushrooms. This project had begun before the pandemic and was able to relaunch in 2023. They recently harvested their crop. They also took part in raising chickens for both eggs and meat. The loan program in Santa Clara la Laguna also continued, providing funding to support the enterprises of women there.

All of the program participants had the opportunity to gain additional skills over the course of the year as well. The interns and staff participated in three courses focused on photography and videography, led by our partner nonprofit EntreMundos. They also took part in a number of retreats throughout the year. The staff had the opportunity to network with representatives from other nonprofits in Guatemala at an event hosted by El Directorio Guatemala.

A group of people in Guatemala
Staff members Candelaria and Carmela attend a networking event (Photo courtesy of El Directorio Guatemala)

The board of directors grew this year, with Marta Xicay and Rosa García joining the team. Marta has extensive experience working with Guatemalan and international nonprofits. Rosa is a graduate of the Kateri Fund’s programs and has also been on staff as bookkeeper for several years. She will provide a link to the Guatemalan-based governing board (Directiva), of which she is the president.

The Directiva continues to envision the direction of the Kateri Fund, offering guidance about where to direct resources to meet the needs of local communities.

Our work isn’t possible without you. Our Year-End Campaign begins on Giving Tuesday, November 28. Our goal is $10,000, which will help us to continue and expand these programs in 2024. Thank you for your support!

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