Indigenous Guatemalans make up 40% of the population, and about 79% of this group lives in poverty. These communities benefit greatly from comprehensive programs which target poverty at its roots and work to build sustainable economic growth.
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 past disasters 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 long-term 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. The program aims to improve the quality of people’s lives by building their financial capabilities through increased savings, access to loans, and education on how to start and expand small businesses.
Our work with Women focuses on helping communities promote the rights of women and children and move toward the vision that everyone deserves a life free from violence in a society where they are treated with dignity and respect. Only then can communities truly heal and thrive.
Our Climate-related work focuses on how families and communities can work together to adapt to the effects of rapidly changing weather patterns. This work includes preparing for and recovering from climate-influenced events such as floods, hurricanes and other disasters.
Our micro-finance programs emphasize involving both women and men, which can be very effective in promoting gender awareness and empowering women. When women become breadwinners, they increase their role in household decision-making, which often enhances the whole family’s well-being. Read more about Micro-finance.Read more about Micro-finance