Calendar & News

Guatemalan Women’s Association and the Mission Development Unit of the New Castle Presbytery Sign Agreement

Circle of Trust and Respect Confirmed

Westminster missioners have just returned from another trip to the Western Highlands area of Guatemala, about four hours from Guatemala City. Our work continues to be focused in San Juan Ostuncalco, a community with a large population of Mam indigenous people. These people live off the sides of cliffs on spits of land they may now own but hold no value for anyone else. They are a proud people whose men still cross mountains to work on coffee plantations.

The Association of Mam Christian Women for Development was formed 15 years ago with one group of 10 women. Close to 500 women comprise 54 groups, each with a microloan business plan. The model that has evolved from this group, with guidance from Rosario Diaz, coordinator of the group since 2005, is unique and amazingly successful. During its inception years, women who attended these meetings were often threatened and/or battered by their spouses. Today, there is not only acceptance but also pride, with women now bringing income into their home, feeding their children, and contributing to their education. Empowered women are good for the family.

Westminster has sponsored the Ebenezer microloan group and will now sponsor a second group, which will raise livestock. A cow with a calf is a valuable commodity, because there is milk for the children. Heifer International is working with Rosario Diaz and the women, providing extensive feeding and vaccination training for participants.

On March 7, 2015, after eight months of negotiations, revisions, and translations, an agreement between the Association of Mam Christian Women for Development and the Mission Development Unit of the New Castle Presbytery was signed. The agreement is beautifully written and inspiring. To read the agreement in full, go to this link: The President of the Women’s Association, Felipa Méndez, although able to read, never learned to write. As a reflection of the importance of her role as the signatory to the document, she learned and practiced to perform this function. The signing was followed by a full worship service and a luncheon to bless the agreement.

May God bless all of these efforts.