Guatemala’s 36-year civil war, which ended in 1996, stalled development and caused many people to emigrate in search of safety and economic opportunity. Additionally, the country’s four active volcanoes, major faultline and shores on both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean have all contributed to major disasters in the past and continue to pose potential hazards.
Episcopal Relief & Development began working with the Episcopal Diocese of Guatemala after Hurricane Stan in 2005, supplying funds to purchase food, water and blankets and later working to rebuild housing for affected communities. As our partnership evolved, we supported the establishment of a Diocesan Development Office to implement and monitor projects.
Today, activities focus on alleviating chronic poverty through the formation of Savings with Education groups. Through these groups, members can build up their individual savings and access micro-loans to support small business development. Group meetings include training on financial literacy and business skills, and members in several groups are working to improve the environment in their communities by planting trees.