Sunday, December 21, 2008

General Year End Report From Guatemala Dec. 2008

General Report from Guatemala
December, 2008

In this school year, the Fund helped 20 people in their studies so that they may improve themselves and obtain a better quality of life, with the objective to serve and help the people with great need to obtain higher knowledge in the form of a formal education.

In this way, we feel satisfied to give the Guatemalan society four new graduates: Mildred Alvarado from Santa Cruz del Quiche, Esmeralda Quiacain from San Pablo La Laguna (which is close to Lake Atitlan), and Candelaria Sut from Tecpan as Primary Teachers and last but not least, Rosa Angelina Roquel from San Juan Comalapa who obtained the title of book keeper. All of the women feel satisfied with what they achieved. They consider the Kateri Fund the most valuable help, for the effort it put forth for them and their parents or guardians. On our part, we are proud of their achievements.

The next group is Gladis Macario, Nohelia, Aura Maria and Juana Vidalia who completed their second year of high school and will continue on to their third and final year. The good thing is that they are very good students shown by their grades and attitudes. We wait for the end of 2009 to produce these four new book keepers.

Also, we have Monica Fabiola who was in her first year in business administration, who finished this year of school with success. We hope that next year will go just as well.
Valentina Chuta was also in her first year of high school, studying to be a pre-school teacher. Unfortunately, because of personal issues, she abandoned her studies and the scholarship. We hope that she will continue her studies at a later time.

In the last group, are students who are studying in junior high like Cristina Cux. She was in her last year of junior high, but will continue to study in 2009. She will study to be a music teacher. Mishel and Marisol Suar studied in their second year of junior high and in 2009 will finish this level. Antonieta studied her first year of junior high and next year will study her second year.
The other group is those in university: Juana Cun who studied her second year in the career of social worker and Cesia Reyes who studied the second year of business administration. They have done well.

Finally, we get to the intern, Brenda Otzoy Bal, who had her first work experience working for the Kateri Fund. Then she had the second part of her experience working in a non-governmental organization in her community and continues until February. She expresses happiness for these opportunities that she can take advantage of to obtain better knowledge. Furthermore she is taking a computer course that is being sponsored by the Fund.

In the same manner, we can talk about the training for the staff and vendors of the Fund. There were the two courses in English for Hermelinda, who was working in the textile project, paying the inscription and other university fees for Lilian Emilsa and finally a course in sewing for Rafaela Morales.

Personally, I feel satisfied for having the ability to give people economic help which not only serves to help them, but for their families as well.

On my part, it is a great joy to have been a channel to make this possible through the year.
God bless everyone who has put forth effort so that we can reach our dream of obtaining dignified work and so that we can form ourselves so that a better future will be possible.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and Peace in the New Year.

Carmela Paz, Scholarship Coordinator

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The year is drawing to a close, and holidays are fast approaching! The young Indigenous Guatemalan women in our project are celebrating another successful year. We are in a flurry of holiday sales of the Fair Trade craft products the Mission Guatemala artisans produce.

In 2008, sponsored by your donations, 17 young women were able to study. Several received honors. Three were selected to carry the school banner in the 15th of September parade in their towns. Three will graduate this year! Four will continue in "basico", nine in "diversificado" and two at the university. One young woman completed a yearlong Kateri internship and prepared training for the rest of the group in how to seek employment.

The full group has continued to meet monthly in Chimaltenango. This time together gave the young scholars the opportunity to discuss topics concerning health, community, and personal development with other women their age – offering them a source of camaraderie and opportunities for growth.

In Mission: Guatemala, we are continuing to support local economic development through the sale of goods by artisan groups. We were able to introduce another Fair Trade retailer from upstate New York to the Women of Chumanzana, La Familia Catu/Sajcabun and Mujeres Clarenses - so that they now have additional markets for their goods!

Unfortunately, this year, Mission: Guatemala is in jeopardy due to lack of funds. The increased cost of shipping and the weak economy has made it difficult to keep prices affordable. We have decided to focus our work more in Guatemala. Carmela Paz Bal and Emilsa Peren, our Guatemalan staff, have conducted a needs assessment with the artisans. We plan to implement their ideas if money is available.

Our projected expenses to maintain our programs for the 2008-09 fiscal year are $30,000. We began the year with $20,000 in pledges and donations. We needed to raise $10,000. We thank all those who responded to our earlier appeal for funds. We are, however, still short of our goal. We will have to decide on cuts to our programs if we do not receive donations or pledges amounting to $2500 by Dec. 31, 2008. If you can help now, go to our website and click on the Donate Now button or return the enclosed donation card.

On behalf of the Kateri Board Members, we want to thank you for all the support you have offered us this year. We extend to each of you wishes for a blessed holiday season.

Kay Sweeney Christine Galvez
Managing Director Treasurer

Monday, November 10, 2008

Report From Our Guatemalan Scholarship Coordinator

A Letter From Carmela Paz Bal
I hope that your activities go well and that God blesses you always. I bring news that here in Guatemala the natural setting is changing significantly because we are in the winter season. The best part is that the plants are growing and will soon produce fruit. The bad news is that in some areas, there have been floods and landslides that are affecting various families.

On our part, we ask God for the well being of all the people, especially those most affected by the natural disasters. On the other hand, we are continuing with various activities here in the Fund in order to expand the knowledge of the scholarship holders, and share our happiness because four of the students finish their high school career training this year. The rest of the group will continue in the next grade up.

Everyone likes to participate in the activities we program for our monthly meetings, because it helps them to better their lives and understand other people. The themes have included medicinal plants- their uses for first aid and curing headaches; how to be aware of conserving natural resources; how to be an effective person and achieve their goals; and the culinary art of Guatemala where they showed each other the food of their own village. It was interesting that each region has its own traditional dishes.

As for their studies, the girls are working hard to end this year with success. Each person proposes a yearly goal and the good news is that the majority achieve it through their efforts. They all show responsibility when they assist at the programs and this gives us insight into what excellent students they are; also, we have a better understanding of them outside of their grades.

Lastly, the help of their families is fundamental for the students because it is with them they live daily, or communicate with frequently if they study outside their village. The difficulties that the majority of the families face are economical, such as unemployment, and some have poor health.
-Carmela Paz Bal, Scholarship Coordinator

Friday, October 5, 2007

Sale Update and Next Event : October 14th

Thought all of you might want an update on how the sales are going. This past weekend was the Fog Fest here in Pacifica. We had two beautiful, sunny days, so weren't able to celebrate the Fog, but the sun made it more enjoyable for everyone who came.

The volunteers who helped with the sale made it more enjoyable for me. Shirley Bier and her son, Danny, arrived at 7:30 AM and helped me get the canopy up and arrange the merchandise. We had a great spot with no one on either side of us, so had good visibility.

Shirley stayed on for the parade. We were joined by Huldah Williams and Jean Floyd and all enjoyed the "only in Pacifica" parade. It is always fun with lots of good music.

When Shirley left at about noon, Chris Galvez, a new friend from San Francisco, arrived to keep me company for most of the rest of the day. She was a great help and we had a chance to talk about the Fund between customers. It is always a help to get ideas from others. She will be helping mainly with the scholarship fund. As she speaks Spanish, she will be able to be in contact directly with Guatemala and won't need me to be in the middle.

At 6 PM the sidewalls had to be put up for the night to protect the merchandise. I was struggling alone to get it all done, when Mar Kaden happened along. This is not the first time she has happened along when I needed her. We both are just a little too short to work comfortably, so Mar just hailed down a passing tall person and he gladly stopped and helped us. It is always great to have company and it makes everything seem like less work.

The next day, I opened up alone and enjoyed coffee and cinnamon bread from the booth across the way while I waited for customers. Katie Burke, a fellow Presentation Associate, showed up shortly and stayed for most of the rest of the day. She was great company.

Monica Olsen and Sarah McIntoch arrived in time to help me get the canopy down and everything packed into the car.

It was a great week end and we took in over $1600 for the artisans in Guatemala. Our reason for doing it all.

Next week end, Oct. 14th, I'll be selling at the Save the Music Festival in the Park in Belmont, CA. The festival is from 11 AM to 5 PM.

A volunteer or two is needed to help set up from 9 AM to 11 AM and to pack up after the festival from about 5:30 to 7 PM. Can you come and help? It is an opportunity to help out and also enjoy the festival. Call me at 650 738 9551 or 650 303 9132 to volunteer and for more information. It will be very lonely without you!

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Guatemala Trip: An Update

Well, I’ve been back from Guatemala for a little over a month now. The trip was quick one, but it was productive. After my three months there the beginning of the year while my leg healed, I could see that there was a need to reorganize the staff and expand it. We always feel there isn’t enough money to have the staff we need, but in Board discussions we decided that the new staff was necessary and that we would have to bite the bullet and find a way.

In our 2007/08 Budget, there is a new part time position for a Center Manager to keep everything organized and working and increased time for both the Scholarship and Mission: Guatemala Coordinator. The bookkeeping position stayed the same. As I need to be here in the US more, we felt that the staff there would be expected to take on more responsibilities for the Guatemalan part of the project. To do that well they merited more time on the job and a corresponding raise in pay. When I left Guatemala the middle of August, I felt satisfied with our new hires and so far things have been going quite well. More on this as times goes on.

The scholarship program as always is going along well. The monthly meetings are both educational and fun.

August 6th is my birthday, so we planned to celebrate, as that was their meeting day. In our planning, we decided to make it one grand fiesta for everyone’s birthday, no matter when it was in the year. It was a great time with a pinata, a grab bag, and a delicious cake. A good time was had by all.

In July, Mirna Santelel, a part of the Animation Team, hosted an excursion to her village. She taught the group how to make the traditional baskets that are made in her town, San Jose Poaquil, from straw and gave them a tour of the village. A group of the scholarship young women from a neighboring village demonstrated some traditional dances. The young women often do not know much about places outside their own village, so this was a good learning experience.

In June, Enelia Reyes, another member of the Animation Team, taught the group a craft. Having the young women who have graduated as members of the Animation Team gives them a chance to give back something to the Fund. They also are examples to the other young women - showing them what is possible.

Cessia Reyes graduated last year and is a member of the Animation Team for 2007. She had decided to continue studying at the university level even though she didn’t have a scholarship. She was working selling refreshments in the local buses to support herself.

A few months into the year she began to have leg problems and was unable to continue working. She struggled on with her studies, but with the new semester she just didn’t have enough money to pay her fees.

At the meeting that Cessia told us she was going to have to withdraw from school., a some extra scholarship money became available. Carmela and I had a quick conference and decided to pass on it on to Cessia for the rest of the year. That made it possible for her to continue studying. I know she is very grateful.

All in all, the trip was successful and it was great to see everyone there.

Submitted by Kay Sweeney, Kateri Fund Managing Director on Sep 25,2007