Guatemalan Cultural Action (ACG) was established in 1989 as groups of Mayan Guatemalans affected by the civil war in that country, who had been in Mexico as refugees or had been internally displaced during the conflict, were able to return to their rural lands and rebuild their lives. Global Ministries has partnered with ACG since its beginnings.
ACG has four main objectives: 1) promote community projects in the area of education, culture, economics, and ecology; 2) promote Mayan and Christian spirituality as inspiring and encouraging sources of meaning for community work; 3) promote ecumenism and inter-religious dialogue in promotion of a climate of harmony, peace, and solidarity within rural, indigenous communities; and 4) provide training for the communities on their human rights and how to defend them.
In the period covered by this update, ACG hired new staff for the Women’s Microcredit Program, and they led intensive and extensive training with local microcredit group facilitators and with local group members. For example, in the Kaibil Balam Ixcán community, 47 women participated in a workshop about land preparation and crop improvement in March 2012; 66 women from several communities (Choacaman 4, La Puerta de Chinique, Patzalam, Xebaquit San Antonio Ilotenango, Pacaja 2, Chicabracán 1, Cucabaj 2 and Choacaman 2) studied the raising and maintenance of livestock. There also was training in computer use and management.
As of November 2012, the number of women receiving small loans from the ACG Microcredit Program increased to 689 from 483 as compared to year 2011. These participants are distributed in the following number of groups and communities:
Altiplano Area: 236 participants in 21communities
Ixcan Area: 228 participants in 10 communities
Alta Verapaz Area: 127 participants in 6 communities
Barillas Area: 98 participants in 7 communities
Many of the women invest their loans in raising chickens, pigs, and sheep. Others run small stores, cultivate cardamom seed, beans, and other crops, or sell homemade crafts and clothing. As the participants pay back their small loans, they are eligible for new loans. Some participants no longer need loans for their income-generation efforts, which become sustainable on their own.
The women participating in the ACG Micro-Credit Program have been able to improve the quality of life of themselves and their families. ACG reports that it is notable the increase of participants’ children attending school, better clothing for the family, improvements on many of the participants’ homes, and generally more family income to meet daily needs. ACG hopes to expand this program to new communities in order to continue to help empower more women.
In other areas of its work, ACG continues its provision of scholarship assistance to students, supplying support to 13 university students in 2011-2012. ACG also coordinates the training and production that takes place at their two farms.
The Better Stoves Project continued in 2011-2012 with new stoves being installed in 60 houses in 2011 and a total of 68 planned for year 2012. These stoves are provided to families in local rural communities. Families in the program participate in a four-part training session and also put a financial contribution toward their family’s stove. The stoves are made from local materials and use much less wood to heat for cooking than the typical open fire cooking arrangements in most Guatemalan rural homes.
Read stories from ACG in Guatemala