“As a child I only attended school for two years. Back then the thought was, “Why send a girl to school when she only is going to wind up in the kitchen?” When I was 25 years old the Catholic Nuns came to my village and taught me the value of being a woman. The priest told us that men and women are equal. He said the only ones who say women aren’t equal to men are men. The priest built the Colegio Asuncion here in Huitan so that the indigenous people here (the Mams) would be educated. All of my 10 children attended that school and 9 of them went on to become teachers. Now, I go to school every afternoon. My daughter-in-law, who is the director of the elementary school here, teaches a class for older women like me who didn’t have the opportunity to go to school when we were young.” – Dona Juana Diaz Velasquez lives in El Plan, Huitan, Guatemala and has been a community leader for many decades.
“At first my father didn’t want me to continue my studies. He had given that opportunity to my older sisters but they broke his rules which were. NO BOYFRIENDS and ONLY STUDY, NOTHING ELSE. They never graduated. They went to school in the city, had boyfriends, got married and pregnant. I had to convince my father that I shouldn’t be punished because they broke the rules. I told him that I was certain I would achieve my goals and become a nurse. I am studying now and my parents are really proud of me, but more importantly I am really proud of myself.” Ana Lucrecia is a nursing student and a community health promoter for The Coffee Trust in Chel, Guatemala.
“During the Civil War, when I was 15 years old, I escaped with my parents into the mountains. We didn’t have a house, we lived under a tarp for eight years. We planted corn and beans to survive, but we had no salt, we had nothing. When I was 19 years old and pregnant the army threw a grenade near me, and rocks flew and hit my head and I still have a scar. I was pregnant at the time. My brother was killed. After the war, we settled in Chel and we had to start over again with nothing. My husband left for the United States in January to look for work. He found part time work and hopes to find more work and not get deported.” – Maria Raymundo Cruz lives in Chel, Guatemala and participates in The Coffee Trust food sovereignty program. In this photo she is pictured throwing worms to her chickens. Providing the chickens a source of protein will keep the chickens stronger and healthier.